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Kings’ ceremony will bring back memories of 2010 for Hawks

Chicago Blackhawks Vs Dallas Stars Opening Night United Center Ice Hockey is Back The Chicago Blackhawks stom there blueline during

Chicago Blackhawks Vs Dallas Stars Opening Night at the United Center Ice Hockey is Back The Chicago Blackhawks stand om there blueline during the National Anthem Saturday, October 8, 2011. | Scott Stewart~Chicago Sun-Times.

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SEASON OPENER

HAWKS AT KINGS

The facts: 2 p.m. Saturday, Ch. 5, 720-AM.

Toews cleared for opener

Updated: January 19, 2013 3:23PM



EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Defenseman Duncan Keith reached into the box of greasy In-N-Out burgers — a must-have in Los Angeles even for finely tuned professional athletes 21 hours before the start of the regular season — in the Blackhawks’ makeshift locker room Friday, pulled out a double-double, then proceeded to go “animal-style” on it.

But with a dollop of sauce still clinging to his chin, Keith was thinking about another taste sensation — that of champagne. Particularly champagne poured from an oversized silver chalice.

“Once you get that taste of it, it makes you that much hungrier to get it back,” Keith said.

Keith said he hasn’t been in the same building as the Stanley Cup since the Hawks brought it to the United Center on Oct. 9, 2010, to show it off for the same fans who watched on TV as Patrick Kane slipped the puck past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton in overtime in Game 6 of the finals.

That night, the Hawks hoisted the Cup one more time and hoisted a banner that will forever commemorate that championship.

“It was huge, bringing back the memories,” winger Marian Hossa said.

“The whole crowd was into it, the film on the Jumbotron — just great memories. It was fun.”

The Hawks will be in the same building as the Stanley Cup again on Saturday. There’ll be a banner raised to the rafters, too. But it won’t be their Cup.

The Los Angeles Kings will be the ones basking in the cheers of their fans and the glimmering reflection of the Cup, celebrating their spectacular march to the championship last spring as a No. 8 seed.

The Hawks merely will be their guests at Staples Center, either waiting in the dressing room or poking their heads out for a glimpse of the festivities — “I wouldn’t mind watching,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said — hoping to do what the Detroit Red Wings did at the United Center during the Hawks’ big day, handing them a 3-2 loss.

“We definitely want to rain on their parade a little bit,” said forward Jamal Mayers, who never has experienced a banner-raising ceremony on either side of the ice in his 15-year NHL career.

The ceremony is sure to make a strange opening day all the stranger.

Most of the players haven’t seen any game action in eight or nine months and are coming into a high-profile day game with a mere six days of official practices under their belts. The intensity level of any opener in a 48-game sprint season is going to be high. But the pregame ceremony ratchets it up to the rafters.

It could be harder on the Kings, who will have to stay grounded and focused when the puck drops mere moments after one of the emotional high points of their careers.

“We lost the game, so it was definitely a little bit harder to focus,” Hossa said. “As soon as the puck dropped, we tried to be ready. But all the emotions and everything went into it.”

Hawks captain Jonathan Toews — whose status is uncertain for the game after he came down with the flu Thursday night — said the Hawks’ banner-raising ceremony was “amazing,” and it was particularly “cool” to have the Cup on home ice for the first time.

He said he’ll undoubtedly take a brief trip down memory lane during the Kings’ ceremony.

But more than anything, the presence of the Cup, the raising of the banner, the highlights, the speeches and the building-shaking cheers will only serve one purpose for the Hawks: To whet their appetites.

“It’s basically a physical reminder of what we want to work toward this year,” Toews said. “The road to where we want to go starts this weekend.”



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