After skating at Johnny's IceHouse West for nearly a decade, the Blackhawks bid a fond farewell to the rink Tuesday with a spirited, fun-filled final practice and a photo op.
The star of the picture? The Zamboni, of course.
The Hawks are now set to move into their new practice home -- the MB Ice Arena, located just south of the United Center.
The Hawks have been practicing at Johnny's since late in the 2009-10 season. Patrick Sharp's greatest memories came during the 2012-13 lockout when players weren't allowed to go to NHL rinks.
"We kind set up shop in one of these locker rooms, and had a good group of guys skating every day, talking about when we were going to get back in the league," Sharp said. "Two championships later (we're still) practicing here. It was some good memories and who knows when we'll get back on the ice here."
Coach Joel Quenneville started the practice with a "two-puck scrimmage" in which all 23 Hawks played a game with two pucks on the ice at the same time. The winning team celebrated like they'd won the Stanley Cup, while the losers took a lap.
"That was kind of a celebratory drill for the last day here," Quenneville said.
Quenneville and the coaches were set to tour the MB Ice Arena later Tuesday.
"We're looking forward to going to the new facility," he said. "Pretty spectacular what we're going to be moving into. I think everybody's excited about it. But a lot of good things happened here."
The Hawks' first skate at MB Ice Arena will be Thursday at 9:30 a.m. They will be joined by representatives from nine community partners: Little Blackhawks, First Stride, Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey, Hornets Sled Hockey, Inner-City Education, Hockey On Your Block, Chicago Stallions, Chicago Mission and St. Ignatius College Prep.
As for Johnny's, the rink isn't hurting for clients and figures to make more money now that the Hawks are gone. The reason is because coaches who give private lessons or teams that want to develop their players can book consistent ice time without fear of being bumped.
"Now we can go to (a coach) and say, 'That 1 o'clock slot is yours for six months,' " said rink manager Lars Geary. "Now there's no question marks on our schedule."