After months of rehab, Michal Rozsival almost back for Blackhawks


After months of rehab, Michal Rozsival almost back for Blackhawks

For Michal Rozsival, Thursday carries some significance on his long road to recovery.

“I would like to think I’m a quick healer, but obviously the time was something in between four to six months, and I think it’s going to be six months tomorrow since the surgery. So I think I’m right on time with it,” Rozsival said with a smile.

He’s right: Rozsival had surgery to repair his left ankle, fractured in the Blackhawks’ final playoff game against the Minnesota Wild, on May 12. The hard part is just about over; now it’s counting down the days — not weeks or months — until Rozsival is back in the lineup.

Rozsival could play this weekend, according to coach Joel Quenneville; even if it’s not against St. Louis on Saturday or Calgary on Sunday, Rozsival is very close to returning. It’s been a long wait for Rozsival, who has spent these last few months going from no on-ice work at all to solo skates to post-practice skates with a mini parachute attached to his back. He’s now going through the normal workouts/practices with teammates and looking forward to the night he’s back in the lineup.

“Yeah, I'm getting really close, feeling better every day, getting good workouts in practice and kind of getting into all situations out there,” said Rozsival. “It was nice today. We did some 1-on-1s and 2-on-2 battles, which I haven't done much. So it was good to test it out in these situations, as well. Yeah, I'm feeling better every day and hopefully as soon I can get on the ice and start playing games.”

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Quenneville said Rozsival’s recovery continues even with the normal practices, since he’s back to jostling with teammates during drills.

“This is the toughest part, when you’re getting pushed and you’re shoving right now and getting extra skates in there. It can be frustrating at times. It looks like it’s a long way away, but he’s getting closer now to where he can see the lineup and see himself playing,” Quenneville said. “It was tough injury he had to go through, and the rehab’s tougher because it’s an injury (that) when you get back there’s a little history there you have to deal with.”

It’s unknown how much Rozsival will play once he’s back. It’ll depend on how he’s coming off that injury and, as Quenneville always says, his play will dictate how many minutes he logs. It’s more likely Rozsival goes back to rotating with another defenseman in that sixth spot — with cap concerns returning once Rozsival and Duncan Keith come off long-term injured reserve, it’s unlikely the Blackhawks will be able to keep eight defenseman as they did a few years ago.

Regardless, Rozsival is just about back. And after six months of rehab, skating and more skating, that’s a good thing.

“It’s tough, but it's something everybody has to go through to get back into game shape,” Rozsival said. “To tell you the truth, I kind of enjoy the process, too, right now. I'm feeling better and feeling like I'm getting my conditioning back, and feeling like I'm close to a return. So, it's kind ofexciting.”

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens


All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: