SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- After the first day of Blackhawks training camp, it's already clear who the star of the weekend will be.
It's the Compton Family Ice Arena, built in 2011 smack dab in the middle of campus. The $50 million state-of-the-art facility seats 5,022 and has all the bells and whistles.
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"What a place," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Very impressive for the first time being here. Just walking in and looking at this beautiful facility, it's amazing, a spectacular facility. We're privileged and proud to be here.
"Just the wow factor of this facility. You think of Notre Dame as an old school with a lot of tradition, but everything is new around here."
General manager Stan Bowman, a 1995 graduate of Notre Dame, worked out the details for the Hawks to hold training camp in South Bend.
"This goes back about nine months ago, I had some conversations with people in the hockey department, but it was just a concept," Bowman said. "I wasn't sure if it would work out timing wise or with availability, but we talked it through. We're excited about being here, and it's a tremendous facility."
Bowman sees nothing but positives about going away for training camp.
"No. 1, it's an incredible facility," Bowman said. "They put a lot of work into the rink. There's something to be said about our guys coming together and spending five days together as a team.
"Certainly we have a lot of fans in this region as well, and it's nice to be about to connect with them."
The Irish formerly played at the Joyce Center, which had about half of the seating that Compton does.
"The facility over at the old Joyce Center was nothing like this," Bowman said. "This facility can rival any in the country."
Bowman isn't ruling out a return to South Bend for training camp in the future.
"We'll see how this goes, but there's a lot of excitement, I can tell you that, from our players' perspective," Bowman said.
A few players told Bowman that they normally don't get excited by the start of training camp, but this year they were interested in seeing Notre Dame's new venue, he said.
The players are soaking up the atmosphere of being at Notre Dame.
"There's so much tradition, so much history," Patrick Kane said. "We got to visit the football field and watch practice (Wednesday) and you see how focused they are, how they go over every little detail. It makes you focus on what you want to do as a player for our team. It's just an honor to be here."
Patrick Sharp attended the University of Vermont and said being on campus reminded him of his college days.
"It's just a historic place," Sharp said. "It's just a cool place to be. For those of us who went to college, it brings back a lot of memories."