Bulls

Hossa: 'I feel much better'

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Hossa: 'I feel much better'

Marian Hossa stood at the podium on Friday, looking very tan - and very healthy. The latter, obviously, was the important part.

The Blackhawks right wing is feeling like himself again.

General manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville had both said Hossa was feeling better and working out again, three months after suffering that concussion when Raffi Torres hit him in the head in the playoffs. But its one of those things you need to see for yourself. And on Friday, as the Blackhawks convention began, Hossa was again the picture of health.

Im back here for the first time, talking to you guys, and I feel much better, said Hossa, who received a deafening reception from fans at the opening ceremonies later Friday afternoon. It took a long time to just come back. After some point, I tried to do some things, started working out, and things are on the level of where I wanted to be. Im happy where I am so far.

It wasnt the easiest time for Hossa. When he last talked to the media in early May, he sounded tired and very low, emotionally. The concussion, and all its repercussions - sitting in dark rooms, sleeping all the time - were audible in his voice. More than two months later, however, Hossa is back to himself and doing just fine with biking, lifting and other training habits.

And hes hoping to be 100 percent come training camp.

The way I feel right now I believe Ill be ready for camp, said Hossa, who added he isnt feeling any concussion symptoms right now. Everything could be different when Im on the ice, if I get hit or if someone pushes me. But without contact, Im doing everything on a high level.

Hossa is trying to look at the present and the future - to a point. Hes not thinking about the potential issues his concussion could cause him down the road. And hes also not concerned with Torres suspension now being 21 games instead of the original 25 he was penalized for that hit.

Im sure hes going to learn, still, from sitting out 21 games, Hossa said.

Hossa took his time in healing these last few months. And depending on how the NHL labor situation goes, he could have more time to prepare for training camp. Either way, hes healthy again and looking to stay that way.

Im able to train on a high level right now. Thats my goal so far, and I feel good, he said. Im happy with where I am.

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

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USA TODAY

Robin Lopez taking demotion in stride, wants to return to Chicago

Only an errant punch that missed the face of Serge Ibaka prevented Robin Lopez from suiting up for the Bulls since arriving in the summer of 2016, but his availability streak will come to an abrupt end as the Bulls are sitting and Justin Holiday for the foreseeable future.

Lopez didn’t dress for the Bulls’ game against the 76ers, as he and Holiday were replaced by Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba. Although he was jovial, cracking a few jokes when meeting with the media in pregame, it was clear he was disappointed.

“It was rough for me. I get it. I understand it,” Lopez said. “I always want to be out there playing on the court. That’s what I enjoy, especially playing with these guys. But I’m excited to watch these guys give it a go from the bench.”

With the Bulls being eighth in the lottery standings, Lopez understands the long-term objectives of the organization and said the conversation with the front office went as expected.

“I think pretty much what everybody else has heard,” Lopez said. “I was pulled aside. They told me they wanted to evaluate a few other guys, a few of the young guys. So I get it.”

Starting 138 of 139 games makes his streak ending a bit tougher to stomach, especially considering he didn’t find out about his certain inactivity until right before leaving for the United Center.

“I suppose that’s a little selfish of me, but a little bit,” said Lopez of sadness concerning the streak. “I looked in my closet today and thought I would have a glut of jackets. And I only found two. I didn’t realize this was an issue until about 5 minutes before I had to leave. So I got kind of a ragtag outfit for tonight but hopefully I’ll be better prepared in the games to come.”

Not only will he be armed with better wardrobe but he’ll be bringing a positive disposition to the sidelines that made him loved amongst his teammates.

“All my teammates, whether they’ve been playing with me or sitting on the bench and not dressing, they’ve all supported me,” Lopez said. “I don’t think I’d be too good a person if I didn’t do at least the bare minimum of the same.”

Lopez represented stability and veteran leadership in a tumultuous season, a solid performer when losing was the early norm and upheaval has been constant. It was a reason the Bulls hoped he would garner some interest in the trade market but after hitting for a draft pick in the Nikola Mirotic deal, they had no such luck with Lopez.

Naturally, he was asked about the prospect of being traded over sitting as a healthy scratch.

“That’s hard for me to talk about because I don’t know what situation I could have potentially been in once I had been traded,” Lopez said. “Yeah, it’s … I want to be playing obviously, but we’ve got a great group of guys right here.”

Considering how uncertain things will be for the future, it isn’t a guarantee Lopez won’t be around for the 2018-19 season.

“Yeah. It seems like they still like me. How could they not?,” he joked.

He’s due $14.3 million next season, the last of a four-year deal he signed with the Knicks in 2015. Averaging 12.3 points and shooting 53 percent from the field, he’s productive and valuable on the floor. He’s easy to dismiss with the hoopla surrounding the youth on the roster and the way things clicked when Mirotic stepped on the floor, but seven footers like Lopez aren’t easy to find—even as the game changes.

“I’m a team player. I like to think my play is tied to how the team plays,” Lopez said. “I think we had some really great stretches. The young guys really developed and found a rhythm once we all got healthy. I think we played pretty well.”

With 25 games remaining, he’s unsure of how long his inactivity will last but it’s hard to see him missing the remainder of the season. It would be a bad look for the Bulls and the league to have a healthy player miss two whole months, and Lopez claims no knowledge about that ugly “T” word.

“I’m not familiar with military artillery,” he said.

At least he’s keeping his sense of humor.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls complete 'the process'?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Will the Bulls complete 'the process'?

On today’s edition of STL Podcast, Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Schanowski, Nick Friedell and Vincent Goodwill to talk all things Bulls. Will the Bulls complete “The Process” as well as the visiting 76ers have so far? Our panel discusses the tank watch, recaps the epic Women’s Hockey Gold Medal game and much, much more.