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Reunion stirs up mixed emotions for former Blackhawks

Updated: October 22, 2013 10:53PM



SUNRISE, Fla. — Brian Campbell still lives in Chicago in the offseason, so he took Jonathan Toews up on his invite to the Stanley Cup party at the Blackhawks captain’s house this summer. Seeing the Cup — somebody else’s Cup, this time — was a bittersweet experience for Campbell, who was part of the Hawks’ 2010 championship squad.

“I still didn’t want to go near it,” said Campbell, who was dealt to Florida for Rostislav Olesz following the 2010-11 season. “I was happy to be able to enjoy it, and I was happy for him and a few of the guys that I played with there. It’s great for them, it’s great for the city. But definitely, deep down inside, you’re jealous. I think anybody, I don’t care who you are, you want it. You want another crack at it.”

Campbell is one of three ex-Hawks, along with Kris Versteeg and Tomas Kopecky, who faced their old teammates Tuesday night at BB&T Center as the Hawks visited the Florida Panthers. And while they were happy to see their old friends, the matchup underscored just how far removed from a championship the Panthers are. Florida was dead last in the NHL last season with 36 points in 48 games.

“I would love for us to be in their position,” Kopecky said. “We have to earn that right.”

The social time between the old friends was limited with the Hawks’ moms along for current trip, but many of them planned to catch up before or after the game.

“It’s been a few years, but I still keep in touch with some of them,” said Marian Hossa, who talks with Kopecky, usually at least once a week. “It’s always nice to get games like that.”

It wasn’t nice last time for Campbell. Their last meeting was Jan. 21, 2012, in the middle of a snowstorm in Chicago. Compounding matters was Campbell’s health.

“I was throwing up most of the game,” Campbell said. “The snowstorm, and that. Wasn’t fun last time. Definitely a game to forget.”

It was surely a better experience this time around.

“It’s always great, with me being there in the offseason and spending time with the guys that still play there,” Campbell said. “It’s always a special game. … I think any time you win a championship, you have a special bond.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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