Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa views Thursday's game with the Phoenix Coyotes like any other despite it being the first time he'll face Raffi Torres since the Coyotes' forward ended his season last year with an illegal hit to the head.
"I don't care," Hossa said Tuesday of the game. "It's a thing you don't forget. Like I said, you know I move the page, and it's another season. I just try to focus on my game.
Torres launched himself shoulder-first at Hossa's head, sending him crashing to the ice in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series April 17. Hossa left the ice on a stretcher and did not return for the series, which the Coyotes won in six games.
Hossa suffered a concussion and would have missed significant time this season if not for the lockout. He started taking on-ice contact from teammates in November and was cleared to play well ahead of the season opener on Jan. 19 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Torres originally was suspended 25 games for the hit but had it reduced to 21 after an appeal. He still was serving that suspension when the teams first met this season on Jan. 20.
"It is what it is. I was over it the day after they told me I got 25 games," Torres said Wednesday. "I look at it as everything, the things that happen to you negative, there's always a positive that comes out. I learned a lot about myself throughout this 8-9 months. It's good to have a great group around me."
Whether Hossa's teammates are treating this as just another game remains to be seen.
"That's questionable," Hossa said. "I don't know what they're thinking."
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane said earlier in the season he expected to see a "little fireworks" when they played Torres this season.
Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig, one of the team's most physical players, threw Torres to the ground after Bollig realized Hossa was still on the ice in last year's game. Players from both teams joined the scuffle, and the officials worked to break it up.
Torres said in January he planned to change his aggressive style of play.
"I can't afford to go through something like that again," Torres said on Jan. 15, according to azcentral.com. "There are some things that I'm going to have to change if I want to keep playing in this league at a competitive level, so I look forward to it. I know I can bring more to the game than just physical play.
"The game's changed a little bit the last few years. Obviously, I've got to realize that, and the utmost importance these days is the safety of the other players. I don't want to go through something like that again."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville hopes his team, coming off a big 5-3 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, will get revenge in a different way on Thursday.
"You got to be smart, and you got to be disciplined and stick together," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Tuesday. "Getting even is winning the hockey game."