Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival is still dealing with the effects of a sucker punch from Ducks forward Nick Ritchie that occurred in April, his agent Ritch Winter told The Athletic’s Scott Powers on Wednesday.
“He’s not 100 percent healthy, which is a challenge because he’s got symptoms he’s managing as result of the knockout punch that was delivered to him unexpectedly,” Winter said as part of a larger interview.
Rozsival needed surgery in the spring to repair facial fractures after Ritchie punched him in retaliation for a hit on Ducks winger Corey Perry. Ritchie was suspended two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for the play, with this kicker to the explanation.
“With no reason to suspect Rozsival is ready or willing to fight, Ritchie drops his gloves and delivers a forceful bare-knuckle punch to Rozsival's face at a time when Rozsival is unable to defend himself."
It’s unclear what this means for Rozsival with training camp just a few days away. Winter says the defenseman is excited for another season with the Blackhawks, but they won’t rush him back to the ice if he’s dealing with post-concussion symptoms.
On Thursday, the team signed defenseman Cody Franson to a PTO, and Rozsival’s status may have factored in there. The team still has Jan Rutta, Ville Pokka, and others in training camp, but Franson should help solidify the right side of the defense behind Brent Seabrook and Connor Murphy.
The Blackhawks signed Rozsival last spring to a one-year, $650,000 contract. He could be placed on long-term injured reserve to begin the season if he’s still not healthy, which would give the team some additional flexibility to go over the salary cap while he’s on the mend.