Hot Stove Hawks

By:
From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 31
5:26 p.m. CT

What a special day this has been. From the moment the Chicago Blackhawks took the ice here at Wrigley Field this morning, you really had a sense of just how historic Thursday afternoon is going to be.

One by one, the Blackhawks headed out of the Chicago Cubs' dugout simply in awe. The general response can't be used here, so I'll leave it to your imaginations. For most, though, it was a chance for the players to be six years old again.

"I think it's definitely special because in a way, we're going back to our roots," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "For a lot of us growing up in Canada or the northern (U.S.), I guess that's where the experience is as far as playing hockey. It started for all of us outdoors."

-- Brian Compton

3:07 p.m. CT

It's hard to put into words what this day has been like for me, but I'll do my best to describe it.

I think when I drove in this morning is when it really hit me that this will be one of the greatest moments of my career. When we got here this morning and saw all of the media and the hockey figures walking around is when this really hit home. This truly is something special and we really tried to cherish the experience.

Practice was hard at the beginning, just because we saw all of the guys having fun in an atmosphere they don't normally get to play in. But when it was time to focus on the task at hand, it was all business. I'm glad we got a day of practice in before the game, just for the guys' sake. We were able to see what it was really like. But you've got to have a little fun with it, too. Last night's loss wasn't what we wanted, but we've got a chance now tomorrow to redeem ourselves on home ice.

I think early on, we've got to keep the game as simple as possible. I think the boards are not as lively as both buildings. We don't know what the glass is going to be like, we don't know if there's going to be snow. The sun at one end is a little tricky. It can be glaring. I think simplicity is the word I'm going to throw in the hat. We've got to be smart and stay out of the box against these guys. We'll make adjustments if we have to.

Having my family here is awesome. I'm away from them during the season, so it's just so nice to have them around. After our practice, I had a chance to skate with my boys on the Wrigley ice. They're in the room every now and then, and a lot of the guys know them. I didn't grow up in this atmosphere, and I think for them it's almost second nature. They've been around locker rooms since they were babies, but they don't understand that they're sitting next to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. I think their friends understand more than they do.

Afterwards, the boys were able take pictures with Scotty Bowman and some of the other guys. It's something that may not hit them right now, but down the road I know it will. This is something they'll really cherish. I know I will.

After all, I may never get to experience this again. We all have to enjoy it, but we also have to understand that we have a game to win tomorrow. What a way to start a New Year. Hopefully, we can top it off with a victory and give the people of Chicago something to be proud of.

-- Mike Haviland, Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach

10:49 a.m. CT

Never in a million years did I think my first trip to Wrigley Field would be for a hockey game. Yet, here I am at a baseball cathedral, just hours away from witnessing the National Hockey League make history. And just like last year's event in Buffalo, this will be must-see TV.

I had a quick peek at the Blackhawks' dressing room. You can see the excitement in their eyes as they are minutes away from taking the Wrigley ice for the first time. After practice, I'll be speaking with players and coaches to get their thoughts on participating in tomorrow's historic event.

More later.



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