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Chicago Blackhawks fans on Monday were shocked to learn that winger Marian Hossa would be sitting out of Game 3 with an injury the team Twitter account alleged had occurred during warm-ups.
After the game several players, including captain Jonathan Toews, said they had known all day there was a possibility that Hossa might not play. Head coach Joel Quenneville, however, stuck with the line that it was a warm-up injury for Hossa in his postgame press conference.
Obviously, hockey injuries are always fair play for rampant speculation because of the tight-lipped way they’re handled by teams (no other sport accepts “upper body injury” as a diagnosis), but in the case of NBC commentator Eddie Olczyk, he has his own opinion on what really happened.
He relayed this opinion to ESPN 1000 this morning:
“There’s all this speculation, the quotes that guys knew there was a chance he wasn’t going to play, but I’ve been around the block a few times, I don’t know how you can buy into that with the aspect of knowing that if there was a chance that (Hossa) wasn’t going to play you had Sheldon Brookbank and Brandon Bollig taking warmups and then neither one of those guys dresses for the game.
“To me, it was one of those ‘OK, we’ve got to do something right now. We’ve got to figure this thing out now.’ We’re not going to find out a lot. Players on both teams right now are taped together just getting out there to play and with Hossa being out, taking warmup and then not playing the game…to think that the Blackhawks had an idea that he might not play and then all of a sudden play a guy who didn’t’ take warmups that just doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense.”
Obviously Olczyk doesn’t buy the notion that the Hawks knew throughout the day that Hossa may not be able to play, and the crux of his argument does stand to reason. Why, if they knew Hossa might be out, would they opt for a guy like Ben Smith, who hadn’t warmed up before the game and who hasn’t played at all in these playoffs, over a guy like Bollig or Brookbank who has played, and would obviously be a bit more ready to come in and contribute?
On the other hand, there is the possibility that Quenneville wanted to throw a bit of a change-up at the Bruins, and show them a player that they couldn’t have prepared for. Obviously, the gambit didn’t pay off, as Smith had a large role in the Bruins’ first goal of the hockey game due to his slow reaction time, but it’d be foolish to put something like that past a coach with a reputation for hitting unexpected buttons at times.
Regardless of whether the Hawks knew about a Hossa injury or not, the fact remains that he is still a possibility to play in Game 4, so the team as a whole will hopefully be more prepared to deal with it if he can’t go.