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Florida Panthers Coming 'Home' to Chicago ... Five Panthers from Blackhawks 2010 Cup Team Return

BluesbroDENVER – As the Panthers were packing up their gear inside the visitors locker room at Pepsi Center, one equipment manager was heard singing 'Sweet Home Chicago.'

For a number of the Panthers, South Florida is home now yet Chicago still holds a dear place in their heart.

A total of five players who were part of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup championship team now Chicagocupplay for the Panthers and some will be returning to Chicago for the first time since leaving the Hawks when the two meet Friday night at United Center. 

Brian Campbell and Tomas Kopecky left Chicago over the summer; Kris Versteeg was traded to Toronto after the championship run and hasn't been back. Jack Skille played there as a member of the Panthers last season and John Madden played two games in Chicago with the Wild.

“It's more than just another game. That place was close to me and a lot of players in this room,'' said VersteegcupVersteeg, who has the date Chicago won the Cup tattooed on the inside of his right bicep.

“It's something I've been looking forward to. I want to see the banner, one a lot of us didn't get to see get raised. I still haven't seen it. Hopefully we have a big game as well. There's no bitterness. It was business. I'm happy Chicagobannerwhere I'm at.''

The Panthers flew to Chicago Thursday afternoon and some of the Florida Blackhawks had plans. Campbell needs to check up on his house in Lincoln Park while Kopecky had dinner plans. Versteeg said he wasn't going to do much, not with the Panthers playing back-to-back games in Chicago and Winnipeg.

A Florida win here on Wednesday may have made the trip back a little more relaxing. But after dropping seven straight road games, the Panthers are starting to feel a little desperate. Nostalgia and visits are fun. The Panthers need a win.

“It'll be nice to be back in the city, check up on everything,'' Campbell said. “It's always fun playing in that barn. But we need to put some wins together, Ferriswe've been running below .500 for this stretch. Chicago was good to me, a good place.''

Chicago won in a shootout in the previous meeting on Nov. 3 at BankAtlantic Center.

“It's special to play against your old teammates but that's it,'' Kopecky said. “We gave them two points the last time and we need to come out of that building with two points.''

FRIDAY: PANTHERS AT BLACKHAWKS

When, Where: 8:30 p.m.; United Center, Chicago

ChicagostadiumTV/Radio: FSN; WQAM-560

The series: Chicago leads 14-9-3

The game: This is the final game of a two-game set with the Blackhawks beating the Panthers in a shootout in November. Chicago has won two straight and four of the past five. The Panthers played their first game in franchise history in Chicago, skating to a 4-4 tie on Oct. 6, 1993. Jack Skille and Scottie Upshall (out since Nov. 10) are expected to return to the lineup with Mike Santorelli sitting out.

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