SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Michal Rozsival knew for a while he wanted to return to the Blackhawks, if possible. That desire was fueled even more after his horrible season-ending injury last May.
“It was a tough ending to my season last year but a great ending to the organization and the whole city of Chicago,” said Rozsival, who (eventually) hoisted his second Stanley Cup last summer. “It was in my mind all summer long that I wanted to be back in Chicago for this year again.”
Now, he will be.
Rozsival agreed to a one-year deal with the Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon. Generalfanager.com reported that the deal carries a $600,000 cap hit.
With Rozsival, the Blackhawks get a defenseman who’s familiar with the system. What role he plays yet is uncertain, but with Rozsival it looks like the Blackhawks may have their top seven defensemen set (Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Trevor Daley, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Rozsival and David Rundblad).
“He gives you some safety, predictability. He doesn't have to play every game, but when he comes in, you're comfortable with him in all situations. It's reliability and obviously we kind of missed some important minutes without him there in some key situations in the playoffs last year,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s nice having him back and giving up some depth. We're still thin in numbers compared to other years, but having him back helps fill that void.”
For Rozsival, this deal wasn’t about the money.
“I didn’t even think about how much the contract would be worth,” he said. “I just wanted to be back with this group and help this team do something special again.”
Rozsival was en route to doing something special with the Blackhawks last season when he suffered a fractured left ankle in Game 4 against the Minnesota Wild. He underwent surgery on the ankle on May 12 and spent most of his summer rehabbing that ankle.
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“It’s been tough, obviously. The whole summer was tough. But I’m feeling really, really good right now,” Rozsival said. “The last few weeks I’ve been feeling really good, so I’m excited. It gives me energy to work harder and harder now and excited to be back out with the boys.”
Granted, it’s going to be some time before Rozsival gets back to where he was late last spring. He’s doing light skates on his own right now; Quenneville said if Rozsival is ready by the end of training camp, “that would be great. It’s tough to say right now.”
But when he is fully ready, Rozsival gives the Blackhawks another familiar option.
“I always wanted to come back. I didn’t want to leave this game, leave this league with a bad injury. My thought process was always to get myself back in good shape,” he said. “This is my fourth year with the Blackhawks and I’ve had the best time of my life playing hockey here in Chicago.”