TORONTO – Marian Hossa never welcomes a long summer but he’ll take the chance to get rejuvenated that comes from it.
“After so many years playing long in the playoffs, it’s definitely beneficial to recharge, not just because of injuries but also getting ready for the new season with a long summer program,” said Hossa, who’s made five Stanley Cup final appearances dating back to 2008. “And this is a great training camp for us, playing against the world’s best players. It’s unusual but it’s great.”
Yes, this normally wouldn’t be the way Hossa would ring in a new season but it’s a good way to see how rested and recovered he is. Winning doesn’t hurt either, as he and Team Europe beat Team Czech Republic 3-2 in overtime in their World Cup of Hockey matchup on Monday. Team Europe, comprised of players from eight different countries, wasn’t expected to do much in this tournament. But they’re now 2-0-0 in round-robin competition, including Sunday’s surprise 3-0 victory over Team USA. Speaking of Team USA: it’s in some trouble. A loss to Canada on Tuesday night, and Team USA will be eliminated from the tournament.
But back to Team Europe and, specifically, Hossa. The veteran forward didn’t have the best regular season but had a strong first-round series against the St. Louis Blues. Like several of the Blackhawks’ core players, the long break was disappointing but also needed. For Hossa, it was a chance to rest and then start a longer offseason training program.
So is he seeing different results with the longer time off?
“It’s still early, I would say,” Hossa said. “Also, you’re playing against top players so it’s hard to judge because you’re going full steam, 100 percent from the beginning. But for the first two exhibition games there were hard legs. Now they’re moving more and that’s a good sign.”
Hossa has enjoyed the tournament thus far with Team Europe. His squad didn’t get off to the best of starts in the preliminary games; their first opponent was Team North America. But as several teams are finding out, facing that young North American squad hasn’t been easy for anyone. Team Europe was also still getting used to each other’s habits and personalities, on the ice and off. Coach Ralph Krueger said earlier this week that the team just needed time to get to know each other. Now acquaintances are becoming friends, and it’s showing with success on the ice.
“Obviously everyone at the beginning wasn’t sure. At the first breakfast. Guys were walking in unsure where to sit, everyone kind of sat on their own. But then after practices we had times off we went together, team building groups, so we know each other more,” Hossa said. “All those little things kind of add up, and we’ve become more of a team right now. Everyone’s feeling really good.”
Team Europe will get its biggest test on Wednesday when it plays Team Canada. Hossa will get a true test of how much the long summer benefitted him within the next few weeks. But there’s no doubt he’s entering this season feeling much more refreshed.