Blackhawks' Michal Rozsival takes next step in recovery process


Blackhawks' Michal Rozsival takes next step in recovery process

Michal Rozsival looked at being part of the Blackhawks’ morning skate on Saturday as a big positive.

It’s still going to be a bit until he returns; the Blackhawks defenseman suffered an awful left ankle fracture back in May, and he’s still some weeks away from playing in an NHL game. Still he’s improved enough to be out there with his teammates, another sign that he’s going in the right direction.

“I’m definitely excited to be with the team, get that regular practice feeling, get the passing and shooting and have a goalie in the net,” Rozsival said. “I’ve been skating on my own, which is kind of boring. It’s another step forward for me in my recovery.”

[MORE: Blackhawks offense wakes up in win over Blue Jackets]

Rozsival said he has about 85 percent range of motion in that left ankle, which he broke in the Blackhawks’ final second-round game against the Minnesota Wild in early May. He was supposed to be on the ice the night they won the Cup but bad weather disrupted his travel there. Rozsival was there a few days later, however, when the Blackhawks had their parade and rally at Soldier Field.

But it was otherwise a pretty dull summer for the veteran, who had surgery on that ankle on May 12 and whose mobility was obviously limited immediately after that.

“It was a kind of a long summer for me, being on crutches with a boot on my ankle. It was tough; I couldn’t do much. I tried to take care of it as much as I could have,” he said. “It was kind of a boring summer; a lot of sitting around. I’m glad it’s over and I’m looking forward to getting back on the ice again.”

Rozsival has a small plate on the left anklebone. The fracture is healed but Rozsival said there’s still some tightness in the ankle. Nevertheless it’s a lot better than it was when the Blackhawks first convened for training camp back in mid-September.

“It’s improved a lot,” he said. “When I got here in training camp the ankle was tight and stiff and swelling, which I don’t have right now. It’s improved quite a bit.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Rozsival’s recovery isn’t complete yet. He was placed on long-term injured reserve on Oct. 6, so he can’t play again for 24 days and 10 games from that date. But it sounds like it’ll take even more time than that for Rozsival to be ready – “I can’t tell you how long but it’s definitely not ready now. It may be a few more weeks before I can actually go out and play an NHL game,” he said.

But he’s skating with the team, which means he’s moving forward. It’s been a long recovery road for Rozsival. At least now he’s getting closer to the end of it.

“[Skating] with the team, especially in pregame skate, it’s basically, go, go, go. I kind of liked it," Rozsival said. "I’m very happy to be out there and get that feeling back again, being at a higher pace, passing and shooting. Not just being focused on the skating but also being focused on what’s going on around you.

"You have to pay attention to the other players around you. It’s definitely another step forward.”

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: