CHICAGO – It’s the end of an era for the Blackhawks that a number of fans don’t know a whole lot about.
Some would show up to practice to watch the team on occasion at Johnny’s Icehouse West, a simple facility a little West of the United Center. For the most part, however, most people’s familiarity with the facility was seeing some of the practice on television.
But in many ways this rink served as ground zero for the building of arguably the greatest era in the history of Blackhawks hockey, a place where some of the team’s young stars got their start with the franchise.
Tuesday marked the team’s last day in the facility as they will now move into the brand new MB Ice Arena located closer to the vicinity of the United Center. The State-of-the-Art, $65 million facility will be a major upgrade for the team along with a community center that will allow the team more options for events and activities.
Still a practice rink can mean a lot to the coaches and players who frequent it through the years, pouring out their sweat to get better at their craft.
“Lot of good memories over the years here, seven years. Some good moments as well,” said Joel Quenneville of Johnny’s Icehouse. “A lot of good things happened here.”
When asked about his memories, Patrick Sharp recalled the lockout that delayed the 2012-2013 NHL season. Unable to practice at the United Center or in any official capacity as a team, the facility became a refuge for the team to prepare for their season.
“It started with the lockout year. We weren’t allowed to go to the NHL rinks. We kinda set up shop in one of these locker rooms and had a good group of guys skating every day, talking about when we’re going to get back in the league,” said Sharp. “That was kinda the start of it. Two championships later, practicing here, some good memories.
“Who knows when we’ll get back on the ice here.”
So the team decided to enjoy the one day they had left at their soon-to-be former practice rink.