Kevin Cheveldayoff couldn't go more than a few steps Saturday night at the Allstate Arena without being stopped by a well-wisher.
"It's like I never left," said the former general manager of the Chicago Wolves.
Cheveladayoff, currently the GM of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets, returned to be honored with a banner-raising ceremony before the Wolves' 3-1 victory over the Lake Erie Monsters.
A crowd of 11,112 heard Wolves chairman Don Levin salute Cheveldayoff. A video presentation also featured the likes of former Wolves coach John Anderson and current Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville sending regards.
Cheveldayoff spent two years as assistant GM of the Blackhawks after serving 12 years as Wolves GM and winning four championships.
"It was a very, very special moment for me and my family to hear the kind words from Don and to see the videos of the championships and the moments that are forever etched in my mind and to see the video tributes from people who have been parts of my career," Cheveldayoff said.
Cheveldayoff joined the Wolves as GM at age 27 in 1997. They won two Turner Cups in the International Hockey League and two Calder Cups in the American Hockey League before Cheveldayoff left for the Blackhawks in 2009.
"For me, the thing that really made it easy to come back here time and time again is when I did leave from the Wolves to go to the Blackhawks, I sat with Don Levin and we had a real heart-to-heart conversation," he said.
"He looked me in the eye and he said, "Chevy, I don't want you to leave, but I know you have to go.'
"Really, that was the moment for me that was kind of kicking me out of the nest, so to speak. That made it known to me that no matter what, this was always going to be my family. I was always going to be able to come back here. This night doesn't happen without that."