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Toews, Hossa and new Hawks ready for opener

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CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: Marian Hossa #81 and Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks in action against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Four of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

by Scott King

Veteran Hawks Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, along with six rookies, will be taking on their foe the St. Louis Blues for the season opener at the United Center Wednesday night.

“It is exciting,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “I think we’re prepared, we’re ready. Just that feeling of being excited coming to the rink and being around each other and being in the room again is here. We [have] a job to do tonight, so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and get off on the right foot.

Toews realizes that with so many new additions to the lineup, and the league, more communication on and off the ice is needed.

“I think as a team, from our coaching staff down, that’s one of the things that we’re looking to adjust,” Toews said. “To go over our systems, to reinforce positive things more often. It’s not just automatic now for some of these guys.

“There’s a learning process, but it’s a good thing. Those guys are excited and when you’re excited to play every single night, you’re going into new buildings and everything is so new, you bring your best every single night as well. That’s what we’ll expect from those guys. The bar is set pretty high I guess.”

Newcomer Tyler Motte is ready for the moment the 21-year-old dreamed of as a kid. “I’m excited,” Motte said. “You dream about this day growing up. Working through training camp you just kind of keep building, keep working towards this goal. It’ll be an exciting night.

“It’s one step along the way. Obviously there’s more goals, even bigger things you dream of as a kid, but this is definitely one of them. It’s an exciting time, but the work’s not done. You just have to keep working and keep trying to help this team win.”

Big Number

Marian Hossa starts the 2016-2017 season with 499 career goals.
“Never thought one day I could be close to this number [500],” Hossa said. “Over time maybe I’ll appreciate it even more, but right now [I’ll] try to focus on the next game. When [it] happens I’ll be more than happy.”

Hossa knows the number, among other accomplishments, may help land him in the hall of fame. “If that happens, that’s great. I know I’m pretty close to 500 [goals] so that would be nice to get it over sooner or later.”

The veteran two-way threat thinks the rookie Hawks are ready for the NHL spotlight. “In this dressing room there’s always lots of talent, lots of young guys coming in, all pretty much ready for the stage,” Hossa said. “Lots of excitement you can see around here. It’s fun to watch those young guys and I think I know lots of these young guys are ready. They’ve been in the minor system and they know what to expect at this level. I think they’re well-prepared right now.”

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