Kostka recalls 'crazy' Leafs mania in Toronto
Blackhawks defenseman Mike Kostka was looking forward to Saturday's game almost as much as Dave Bolland was.
Kostka wasn't wanted back by the Maple Leafs as a free agent last summer after playing 35 games for them last season. Apparently, the Maple Leafs needed to make room for young defensemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner.
"I don't know if it's a look-at-me-now kind of thing," Kostka said. "They gave me an awesome opportunity last year and I thank them for that, so I think it's less about that. You always want to win with the team you're with now."
Spending time in Toronto gave Kostka a first-hand look at the craziness that goes with playing for the Maple Leafs in the hockey capital of the world.
"They're both crazy in their own right," Kostka said when asked to compare playing in Toronto with Chicago. "Toronto was awesome for me because I was from right outside Toronto so I grew up a kid going to those games in that building.
"The fans there are crazy and the media is insane there. There would probably be about 40 more in here if we were in Toronto. But here, obviously, the fans are great. The anthem here I think is one of the most special things in hockey, so they're both crazy in their own way."
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville has been impressed with Kostka since the first days at Notre Dame.
"He hasn't played much, but we like what he brings," Quenneville said. "He's one of those guys on the back end that defends well, brings some offense that compliments our team. He's good with the puck and defends pretty well."
Dave Bolland had dinner with Jonathan Toews on Friday ahead of Saturday's return to the United Center.
"It's nice to see the guys, but in a few minutes we won't be friends," Bolland said about two hours before faceoff. "Coming back, the emotions are running high with everything that went on here the last seven or eight years."
Bolland did clear up the puck mystery from Game 6 in Boston. He told reporters in Toronto he didn't have it, but it turns out the Hawks do.
"The team has it," Bolland said.
Bolland's winning goal, which gave the Hawks a 3-2 win, capped the most memorable 17 seconds in franchise history. Bryan Bickell had tied it with 1:16 to play.
"That 17 seconds felt like days," Bolland said.
Hello, old friend:
The Hawks used to have a Blues-like rivalry with Toronto, but that changed when they broke up the old Norris Division.
"It's good to see Toronto," said Joel Quenneville. "It's always a special moment when you go into Toronto or when you get them here in Chicago. It's an Original Six matchup, Hockey Night in Canada, so it's a fun game for the players."
Hockey fights cancer:
The Hawks hosted "Hockey Fights Cancer Night" on Saturday to help support cancer awareness.
The players wore one-of-a-kind jerseys in warmups with the coaches wearing special lavender ties.
In addition, the Hawks have partnered with the Make-A-Wish and Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer foundations for a special, pregame on-ice recognition of six local children. Six more children rode the Zambonis before the game and during each intermission.
Jack O'Donoghue, a 9-year-old from Carol Stream who is battling Burkitt Lymphoma, performed the ceremonial puck drop before the game.
The Hawks on Saturday signed Rockford defenseman Viktor Svedberg to a two-year contract. He will remain with the IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
Svedberg, 22, has 1 goal and 1 assist in five games this season with Rockford. The 6-foot-8, 235-pound blue liner appeared in six preseason games with the Hawks.
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