7:58 AM CDT, July 15, 2013
Did you catch Tom Thibodeau over the weekend? Our Bulls Guy K.C. Johnson quoted the coach as saying that Derrick Rose is “anxious to get started.’’
Just in time for summer league, or something like that.
Marian Hossa, meanwhile, won’t need surgery for the back injury that was so excruciating that one leg was numb. He played, of course. His Blackhawks teammates needed him to play. It was the playoffs. It was all about winning.
I’m sure that Thibodeau intended his comment in a good way, no matter how embarrassing the story played out after the Bulls’ best player was cleared for scrimmaging six months ago.
You’d think that’s when Rose would’ve been “anxious to get started.’’ Playing actual games was the last and most important phase of his return from knee surgery. Still is.
"He's totally selfless," Thibodeau said. "He gives you everything he has. He practices hard each day.
Hawks center Michal Handzus was playing with a broken wrist, but continued to take some faceoffs and skate center on the second line. Handzus also played despite a torn MCL and was seen flying to the dangerous area in front of the net in the last 80 seconds of the third period of Game 6 because his team needed a goal. Despite being the oldest player in the finals, Handzus played a significant number of minutes.
Amid reports that Rose was killing it in practice, the Bulls’ star chose not to play down the stretch or in the postseason. Or his “people’’ chose that route for him.
“He plays to win, plays for his teammates,’’ Thibodeau said. “He's as happy for his teammates when they do well as he is for himself.’’
Hawks winger Bryan Bickell scored the tying goal late in Game 6 despite an MCL that was strained so badly that the Hawks weren’t sure he would even take a shift in the most important round of the playoffs.
“He looks great,’’ Thibodeau said. “He's feeling as well as he has in a long, long time.’’
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews scored a huge goal that tied Game 6 in the second period and then set up Bickell’s goal despite missing the third period of the previous game after the much-concussed center took a vicious two-handed shot to the jaw.
“We can't ask him to do anything more,’’ Thibodeau said.
Hawks fearless center Andrew Shaw took a puck in the face and continued to take the ice even though stitches to his right cheek and right eye couldn’t stanch the bleeding. Shaw also had been playing his relentless physical game despite a damaged rib for the last three series.
“From a physical and mental standpoint,’’ Thibodeau said, “he's terrific.’’
Fighting through some kind of injury that wasn’t explained, Johnny Oduya still managed to fire a perfect low shot that Michael Frolik could redirect to continue one of the most breathtaking scoring sequences in sports history.
“Once he gets started,’’ Thibodeau said, “our fans will be behind him,’’
Despite nagging wrist and groin issues that limited his skating and shooting throughout the most grueling postseason in sports, Dave Bolland carried the puck across the blue line and later finished the most dramatic 17 seconds in Chicago sports history when he scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal.
“All he cares about is winning,’’ Thibodeau said.
The Stanley Cup has traveled to Minnesota and Canada. It will return to Chicago for the Hawks fan convention this month.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC