“I think (in the first game) I did feel in the first period those little things on the mental side where you’re back in it,” Hanas admitted of his initial trepidation. “But once you get that first bump or maybe hit someone for the first time you just kind of realize, ‘Alright, everything’s good. We’re good. We’re ready to roll.’”
CROSS HANAS! pic.twitter.com/2ThxwMNm0Q
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 16, 2023
In early January of last season, his first as a pro, Hanas was injured in a game playing for the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s top farm club. He underwent shoulder surgery. His season was done. In fact, he was only given medical clearance to return to game action the week prior to the rookie tournament.
The 21-year-old left-winger was enjoying a decent rookie pro campaign when he was suffering that injury. Hanas was good for 9-8-17 numbers through 30 games with the Griffins.
And just like that, it was all over.
“The first couple of months were pretty tough for sure,” Hanas remembered. “The rehab is no joke. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time.
“Probably the biggest thing you gotta to is be patient, have a good work ethic. I know I can’t stand sitting out a game, so me having to sit and watch every game the rest of the season last year was real tough. But it makes you just want to keep working and get your rehab done as fast as possible.”
Griffins Coach Watson A Hanas Fan
New Grand Rapids coach Dan Watson was the man in charge of the Detroit rookies during the NHL tourney, and he was left with a positive impression of the work of Hanas. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound forward, the 55th overall selection of the Red Wings in the 2020 NHL entry draft, was accounting for four goals and two assists in three games.
“You can tell he plays with some energy,,” Watson said. “He’s a shooter for sure.
Nice little Cross Hanas snipe. 🤌
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 17, 2023
“We put him in a leadership role here for this tournament, which I think is important for his personal growth. I like Cross. He’s very vocal, he plays with energy. We just have to make sure he plays with emotion and not emotional. At times he can get too emotional about things and maybe his game goes off. That’s something we’re going to have to direct him to, but so far I like Cross a lot.”
Adversity A Maturing Process For Hanas
During his enforced absence, Hanas figures he was learning a lot about himself as a person. Difficult circumstances do have a way of revealing the true character of a person.
“I actually never have been hurt before until last season, especially a long injury like that,” Hanas said. “I’m a real big competitor and I want to be out there all the time. I couldn’t tell you how bad it was killing me to sit up in the crowd every single time we were at home at the games and having to watch and feeling useless, kind of.
“The biggest thing I learned is you just gotta be patient with it, because time is your best friend for injuries like this, just to let it heal,” Hansas said. “The last few months has been more once everything started getting back together and the hurting was gone, just getting everything around all the muscles stronger. Just a lot of strengthening things the past couple of months.”
Through it all, one thought was enabling Hanas to keep his objective in focus.
“Ready for next season is where my mind was,” he said.