It was just a year ago that Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa was sitting in a dark room wondering if he ever would play again.

The recovery process from a severe concussion after an illegal hit from then-Coyotes forward Raffi Torres during Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals April 17, 2012, was arduous and doubt began to creep in.

"In the beginning, it was really, really difficult," Hossa said Friday before the Hawks' game against the Predators at the United Center. "You start thinking, 'What if this? What if that?' in the future. But thank God everything went pretty good."

A little help from the lockout allowed Hossa to start the season healthy and the veteran has been among the Hawks' top players as they raced to the top of the NHL standings.

Because of his comeback coupled with his charitable work, including sponsoring "Hossa's Heroes," which benefits children in Chicago and his home country of Slovakia, Hossa was nominated Friday for the Bill Masterton Trophy by the Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. The Masterton is awarded for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport.

"Hossa's Heroes" is a non-profit organization that provides community service and educational support along with supplying hockey equipment for low-income families.

"I love to help out," Hossa said. "I have the … charity thing at home in Slovakia helping kids. I buy some equipment for them to play hockey. Everything is so expensive. It's a hard time for parents, not just in Slovakia but … all over."