The last time fans got to see Blackhawks star winger Marian Hossa this season, he was get carried off the United Center ice on a stretcher.
It was a scary scene that took place on April 17 during Game 3 of the Hawks' first-round series against the Phoenix Coyotes, which they lost in six games. And, it was an illegal shoulder-to-head hit from forward Raffi Torres that caused it.
Hossa didn't play the rest of the series with a severe concussion, but there is good news. He's doing better now.
"Definitely, it is better," Hossa said over the phone from his native Slovakia on Thursday. "But I'm still not feeling like myself. Obviously, it's going to take some time. It's step by step getting a little bit better and that's a good sign."
Hossa remembers playing the puck by the Hawks bench and trying to make a pass before losing it.
"Somebody just came and hit me, since then I don't remember much," Hossa said. "After the hit I don't remember much, I remember a few seconds of seeing Dr. [Michael] Terry. I don't remember being in our dressing room. I just remember a little bit in the ambulance and I woke up in the hospital. Basically, I remember a few seconds. In the hospital, I became better and remembered more."
Torres, a repeat offender with a long history of supplementary discipline, was suspended 25 games by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. On Thursday, it was made known that Torres and the National Hockey League Players' Association will appeal his ban.
"I believe he wouldn't have gotten 25 games if he didn't have the history of what's he done before," Hossa said. "He didn't get the 25 games because of the hit on me."
Hossa said Torres reached out to him, which was appreciated, but he made sure to tell him what he thought of the hit.
"I would say that it was nice that he contacted me, but I told him, I know he's playing that way, but the one thing that I was upset with was the jump," Hossa said. "If he didn't jump, I would maybe get hit, but not hit in my head and he wouldn't have the 25 games. Basically, I was upset about the jumping."
Coach Joel Quenneville called Torres' knockout blow on Hossa the ''turning point'' of the series. Hossa's loss was tough to compensate for over the last three games, but it's even tougher considering how bad he was doing at one point.
Hossa didn't have a point in the first three games of the series against Phoenix, but was a plus-3. He was an All-Star during the regular season, leading the Hawks with 77 points in 81 games.
It was the most Hossa had played since getting in all 82 games for the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006-07. His 77 points this year also were the most since that season.
Hossa said he suffered a concussion before when he played with the Detroit Red Wings, but it was nothing like this.
"The good news is I'm slowly getting better," Hossa said. "Obviously, I'm not feeling like myself yet, but I'm getting better. I'm slowly going for walks, and that's a good thing. Training camp is still far away, and we'll see what will happen by then.
"So far, small steps, and I believe I'll be ready."