Blackhawks season to kick off at home against Blues

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The 2016-17 Chicago Blackhawks strutted down the red carpet with the confidence of champions. (WLS)

The Chicago Blackhawks are looking to get back to their championship ways. The team begins its season Wednesday night at home against the St. Louis Blues.

The team will hold its usual red carpet event Wednesday afternoon where the players are introduced outside the United Center.

Despite the cloudy skies that harkened back to a disappointing end to last season, the 2016-17 Chicago Blackhawks strutted down the red carpet with the confidence of champions.

At least six new players will be on the roster, and all but one are rookies. That fires the dreams of youngsters taking the ice in Vernon Hills, where the Impact Hockey Training Academy turns out the stars of tomorrow.

"There are a lot of kids from Illinois right now playing Division I hockey and there's a number playing in Europe, so I think that each and every year we're going to get more and more," Coach Ken Johnson said.

"I'm more focused on the Cubs since they're in the playoffs and I'm not focusing on hockey because I really love it. So, I'm going to be watching the Cubs more because they're in the playoffs," young hockey player Evan Simos said.

"I'm just trying to stay focused, make sure I eat healthy, train well, and just go out there and play," said Ethan O'Gradney, another young player.

They're focused and believe the Cubs success only adds to the excitement of a new season dawning. Like any good coach, the ones here preach focus.

"It's hard to get them to focus some days just in general, then adding everything with the Cubs, because it's been 108 years. I mean, it can be really hard. Other days it's really easy," Coach Chris Hassler said.

The sentiment is not lost on a young player - arrived less than two years ago from Ukraine - who understands success breeds success.

"I think it's good if someone likes baseball and if baseball is much more popular than hockey, then it's OK!" Nazar Kushner said.

So, as the Cubs look to become a championship team, maybe they could learn something from the championship Blackhawks. After all, the team is favored 6:1 to win the Stanley Cup again this year.
Related Topics:
sportsChicago BlackhawksSt. Louis BluesChicago - Near West SideVernon Hills
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