Updated: November 3, 2013 6:33AM
Brandon Bollig wasn’t in the house the last time the Blackhawks raised a championship banner to the United Center rafters. And he only played about five minutes last season in Los Angeles, when the Kings held their own Stanley Cup celebration.
So while so many of his teammates shrugged off the inevitable emotional high and perhaps even just as inevitable emotional letdown that comes with such a ceremony, Bollig had no idea what he was in for.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” he said before the game. “I’m sure anything that I think it’s going to be, it’ll surpass that. As far as refocusing afterward, it shouldn’t be too hard.”
Bollig scored the first goal of the Hawks’ season — and the first regular-season goal of his career — just 4:06 into the first period. He planted himself in front of Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and took a shoy by Marcus Kruger off his skate. He got the puck on his stick, muscled aside Capitals defenseman Connor Carrick — a 19-year-old rookie from Orland Park — and deftly lifted a shot over Holtby for the goal.
It was the kind of nifty stickhandling Bollig was having fun with in his parody video of Patrick Kane’s viral Bauer commercial. But while the video is what put Bollig in the spotlight during camp, it was his play that really stood out.
Used mainly as an enforcer during his first two seasons with the Hawks, Bollig — whose lone career NHL goal came in the 2012 playoffs against the Phoenix Coyotes — had two goals in training camp and added two more in five preseason games. He also saw time as a penalty-killer during the preseason in an effort to become an every-day player, not just a guy who’s inserted against physical, fighting teams.
“Every day is kind of a tryout for a guy like me,” he said. “But it’s great that I’ve been given this opportunity to expand my role and expand my responsibility. I’m looking to take it and run with it and not look back, as far as what my role was last year and the year before.”