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Toews' health not concerning Hawks' Bowman yet
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Jonathan Toews


Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/2/2009 10:40 PM

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With Jonathan Toews still not allowed to skate and almost certain to miss two more games this week at Phoenix and Colorado because of the concussion he suffered 13 days ago, is it time to worry about the Blackhawks captain's long-term health?

General manager Stan Bowman said no Tuesday while touching on several subjects now a month into the season.

At the moment there isn't a more important issue surrounding the Hawks than Toews' health.

"We're hopeful he's going to be back soon," Bowman said. "It's a day-to-day thing and these things can turn around quickly. Certainly if it lingers for a long time you'd be worried, but I think right now internally we're not too concerned."

Bowman likes most of what he has seen with the Hawks off to a 8-4-1 start despite Toews' recent injury, not having Martin Hossa at all, and goalie Cristobal Huet struggling early.

"We're off to a good start, but we can improve on certain aspects of the game and we're looking to do that," Bowman said. "You want to get off to a start where you're not behind the eight ball and we've accomplished that, but it's going to get difficult.

"We've got some difficult opponents coming up as well as a lot of road games. The schedule is going to kind of turn. We've had the benefit of playing at home so far for the most part."

The power play is one area that needs to improve. It's 2-for-26 in the last six games and has dropped to 21st in the NHL.

"We want our power play to pick it up, and we've talked a lot about it and we're going to sort it out," Bowman said. "That's probably the one thing that we can certainly do better on. We have a lot of talent here, and I think we'll get it straight."

Hossa's return from shoulder surgery would help greatly on the power play, and there's a chance he could return earlier than Nov. 25, which is the date he said he was shooting for.

"We don't have a target date, but he's certainly on schedule from what we had said back in the summer (which was four months from the July 24 surgery)," Bowman said. "If anything, we're hoping to move that up, but they set those timetables for a reason, because it takes your body a certain time to heal.

"Probably in a week or so from now we can get a more definite date, but it's still a lot of guess work at this point.

"He's going to really give a boost when he comes back, but the danger is you don't want to just rely on one guy and think, 'OK, well he's back so now we can just relax and he'll take over the game.' He's a special player, but it's still a team sport."

Assuming Toews, Hossa and Ben Eager all return to the lineup by the end of the month it's going to create roster logjam at forward.

"You don't want to get too far ahead," Bowman said. "There's still a lot of hockey to be played. We're going to go with the guys that are earning it, and that's what we've been consistent with. The players will sort that out themselves. It's going to become obvious."