Today should be a holiday for all hockey fans. But it especially feels that way as a Blackhawks fan.

Tonight, players will don alternate uniforms of suits, ties, and for last year’s Cup winners, a hefty new piece of jewelry, as they walk a red carpet into the United Center.


One side of the ring has 2013 with five Stanley Cups, representing the team’s five titles. The other side holds the player’s name and number.

The inside is inscribed with the team’s motto “One Goal” as well as the logos of the finals’ opponents and their wins-to-losses.

Captain Jonathan Toews, forwards Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Brandon Bollig, Michal Handzus, Jimmy Hayes, Marian Hossa, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Ben Smith, Andrew Shaw; defensemen Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Sheldon Brookbank, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, Brent Seabrook; and goalie Corey Crawford are all returning this year.

Joakim Nordstrom will be the lone new guy on the ice tonight with starting lines planned as Bickell, Toews, Kane; Sharp, Handzus, Hossa; Saad, Shaw, Hayes; and Bollig, Kruger and Nordstrom.

Ben Smith is the only forward scratched from tonight’s starting lineup, while Sheldon Brookbank and Mike Kostka are out for defense.

Handzus and Hossa are back in the game after missing the preseason after an injury.

The Blackhawks beat the Capitals by 1 (5-4, 4-3) both preseason games this year. This preseason aside, the teams have not played each other since March 18, 2012 at the Madhouse on Madison, when Chicago won 5-2.

That’s no reason to be overconfident. Last year, the Blackhawks rained on the Kings’ parade with a win during the Kings’ banner ceremony. After the Hawks’ 2010 Cup win, the Redwings put a damper on the banner-raising celebration at the 2011 home opener.

After the pomp and circumstance, once the banner is raised to the rafters, that will be it for celebration.

Jim Cornelison will sing his show-stopping rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, chills will travel through bodies and TV sets into the souls of fans.

The puck will drop.

And a new season will begin…with One Goal.

Carly Mullady grew up needing to know more about icing than its deliciousness on cupcakes. She's the lone daughter of four children, with a father who was among the last cut from the Midwest tryouts for the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympic team. And she knows very little matches the thrill that happens from puck-drop to handshakes. A rink didn’t return to her hometown until she was gone, but she’s been able to see two younger brothers on the ice. She's their feistiest fan. Her other hockey loyalty lies with the Blackhawks--whether it's meant seeing games for $8 with student IDs when the Madhouse didn’t have much of a temper at all, or dancing to Chelsea Dagger at standing room only--there’s something magical about a roaring anthem, the Indianhead sweater, and the Original Six. A former journalist and current editor, she carries a penchant for excitement (and maybe even fighting) with a resume that includes working for Chicago-area newspapers, and television, including The Jerry Springer Show, as well as NBCUniversal in New York. After East Coast living and a return to the Chicago area, the new Mrs. is giving Graceland a go with her Southern Gent, who now shares her adoration of the game, and their rescue dog, Doc Holliday. Other interests include Cubs, Bears, Illini, Crimson Tide, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, baking a mean pineapple upside-down cake, Kate Spade accessories, and a properly coordinated cardigan for every ensemble.


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