Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Quenneville looking forward to UC opener
By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville first recognized Chicago as a hockey city when he came to face the Blackhawks as an opponent.
"As a visiting team or visiting player, it's like, 'Geez, those guys got it right over there,'" Quenneville said after his team's morning skate at the United Center on Tuesday.
Quenneville and the Blackhawks expect for their fans to get it right once again Tuesday night when the Blackhawks host their season opener at the United Center against Central Division foe St. Louis at 7:30 p.m.
"We're fortunate," Quenneville said. "It's a good place to play. When you hear that anthem, you're just excited about just starting the game. We feel like it's a special place.
"We're happy to be where we're at. We're lucky and fortunate in a lot of ways. Let's take advantage of the enthusiasm with the crowd knowing it's a special place to play."
Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said being away from the United Center for the season's first two games added to the buzz for the season opener. The Blackhawks went 2-0 against the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes over the weekend.
"It's exciting," Keith said. "We've played two games on the road. You see the momentum the team gets off their home fans. It'll be nice to play in front of our home fans in the home building and hear them cheering for us."
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane believes playing against a Central Division foe could also be to their benefit on Tuesday.
"I think fans are going to be really excited to come back and watch the game here at the United Center," Kane said. "I think a lot of them think it's pretty cool that it's against a division rival or rivalry in that case against the Blues."
The Blues haven't had much fun playing in the United Center in recent seasons either. They've lost their last seven games in Chicago with their last win coming on Feb. 3, 2010.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Tuesday he is aware of his team's past recent fortune against the Blackhawks on the road. He also believes there is a reason why their games are always competitive.
"We usually get our (butt) kicked in this building," Hitchcock said on Tuesday. "I just think it goes back to the old Norris. That was unbelievable hockey -- Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota. Some of that hockey was incredible. I think it just goes back. You build a reputation of going at each other hard. I think you've seen some of the best series with those teams involved in it.
"I think this is a building and probably in the Western Conference, this is the building right now to come and play in. This is kind of the it city to come in play in. I think everybody gets excited to come and play here."
The Blackhawks will greet their fans prior to Tuesday's game with a red carpet event on the 100-level concourse from at 4:30 p.m.
"A little hoopla never hurts you," Quenneville said of the event.