It was clear when Adam Burish came into the United Center on Tuesday for practice that this was going to be a special trip for him.
While Burish was a role player on the Blackhawks last season, he was a fan favorite and team favorite, and there was lots of chatter between him and his old teammates. It would be like Steve Ott coming back to play the Stars.
``I've been excited about this for a while,'' Burish said. ``When I walked in the building, it was weird, so weird coming to a different locker room, driving to the rink. Just to see the guys this morning, they were having a team meeting and I just caught myself kind of because I just went and sat in the middle of it, and guys were like, `Look at you, just come right into the middle of a team meeting. Do you want to come shower with us too?' It's been fun to see the guys.''
Burish and Chicago's leading scorer Patrick Sharp are good friends, and both had great lines.
``I could hear him coming in from the airport,'' Sharp told the media of Burish's tendency to talk too much.
Burish answered that of the players he wants to hit, Sharp has the biggest target.
"Sharpie, I can't wait to get against him,'' Burish said
When asked what would happen if Sharp came after him instead, Burish chuckled.
``Sharp hasn't gone after anybody in his whole career,'' Burish said. ``Who is he going to hurt? I am not afraid of Sharpie. He's not going to hurt anyone. He's nice looking, has the nice hair and nice smile. That's all he's got going. I'm not scared of him.''
Burish continued when asked about how the game could put a strain in their relationship: ``He wants to go to dinner, I may not even go. I want to make him sweat it out a little bit. He's nervous, I think. He's putting on a tough act, but I think he's nervous.''
Duncan Keith said he expects plenty of chatter on the ice.
``I've heard most of his stuff, but he's pretty good coming up with new stuff so it will be fun to hear him out there,'' Keith said.
The funny thing about the jawing is that Burish really could play a huge role in this game. The Blackhawks are missing Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa with lower body injuries, and that means that players like Sharp and Jonathan Toews will have to carry the load. Burish is centering the Stars' checking line right now, and that means that Steve Ott-Burish-Brandon Segal will probably spend a lot of time out against Toews or Sharp.
It's an interesting moment for Burish in his career development. He played 169 games with the Blackhawks and is a native of Madison, Wisconsin, so he was a bit of a local hero around these parts. He helped the team win the Stanley Cup last season, and it was a tough thing when Chicago had budget problems and let him go as a free agent in the summer.
But it might have been the best thing for Burish. While with the Blackhawks, he was mostly a fourth line guy who stirred things up. With the Stars, he has averaged almost 15 minutes a game and played both on a scoring line with Mike Ribeiro and on a checking line with Ott. He's playing a role a lot closer to what he did when he was captain of the University of Wisconsin team that won the 2006 NCAA national championship and he could be taking the next step with the Stars _ a step he might not have been able to take if he remained with the Blackhawks.
So while everyone will have a few laughs in this game, the evening will be pretty important for Burish.
``It'll be fun to get with the guys and laugh and have some fun, but I'm still competitive,'' Burish said. ``I want to have the last laugh here.''
Then again, he'd like the first laugh and all of the laughs in the middle.
"I told Kane he must have the Burish flu," Burish said in reference to the big news that Patrick Kane would be out three weeks with a lower body injury. "I don't think he's hurt. I think he's nervous.''
He chuckled and then added: ``I'm sure I won't shut up the whole game.''