CHICAGO -- Andrew Shaw stepped to the lectern, cracked a wide smile and opened the press conference with the first question.
"Did you guys miss me?" he said.
Shaw, the entertainer, was back.
Shaw, the hockey player, returned about an hour before that. He participated Tuesday in his first practice with the Chicago Blackhawks since he suffered a lower-body injury against the Minnesota Wild on May 2 that has kept him out of the past six games.
Shaw declared himself ready to play come Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville isn't so certain. Quenneville could opt to utilize a few extra days of rest for Shaw since Game 3 isn't until Saturday.
"We'll see on that," Quenneville said of Shaw playing in Game 2. "I thought he was OK today. First time with the group there, hadn't skated in a while. We're not sure yet on [Wednesday].
"That's part of the process [considering additional days off]. When I look back, it could have been last Thursday, Game 7, against Minnesota, probably would have had to fight him not to play him. Certainly having time here and doing the right thing, giving him extra time, is something that's part of the decision, as well."
Shaw has had to be patient over the past few weeks, and he admits it hasn't been easy watching as an outsider the past six games.
"Horrible," Shaw said about being out. "You want to be out there helping your team to win. The guys did well. We beat out a good Minnesota team. We came out hard in the first game against the Kings. It sucks to sit back and watch. I'd rather be 100 percent come back and be there for the long run.
"I feel great. It's good to be back. It sucks being away from the guys. We have such a tight-knit group. It's all smiles to be back out there with them. I feel like it looks good, so I feel pretty good, too."
Shaw's teammates joke they haven't missed Shaw's constant talking in the dressing room, but they have noticed his absence on the ice. He's become relied upon the past few seasons to provide net-front presence, to be a two-way third-line forward and be a pest to opposing teams.
"He's excited to be back, and he's going to be playing with a lot of energy and playing that usual game that he plays," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "I don't think he's going to have to worry too much about missing the last few weeks. I'm sure we'll expect him to be that fearless player just going into traffic like he does, and it'll be good to have him back in the room when he's ready to go."
Shaw's shin pads have also gained a reputation of being a factor in vital playoff plays. He spoke for them, too.
"Think the shin pads are excited to get back out there, as well," Shaw said. "My game, you know, it's the best when I'm around the net. I like to live there, get a few lucky ones off me, as well."
Shaw wasn't done entertaining with that. He saved his best for last when he was asked about who he has been talking to if he hasn't been able to chat up his teammates.
"My girlfriend is probably upset," Shaw said. "Past two weeks I probably put her through hell. She's excited for me to be out there, as well."