CHICAGO -- All eyes will be on the Blackhawks' 2013 Stanley Cup championship banner when it is slowly raised to the United Center rafters -- including those of the players who gave their blood and sweat to earn it.
"That's your place in history," captain Jonathan Toews said. "You look up not only at the Blackhawks banners but the Chicago Bulls banners, and you always dreamed you'd get a chance to raise one up there. And now we have two.
"It's pretty cool to look up there and feel like you're already part of that history of all the great names, the numbers that are retired and the division and conference championships, Stanley Cups -- and we're already adding to it."
The banner will be raised before the season opener Tuesday night against the Capitals, the second time in four years the Hawks have added to the collection.
"It puts another stamp on what we've done here," winger Patrick Kane said. "When you see that (2010) banner up there when they flash the lights on (it) for the national anthem, it always gives you a warm feeling in your heart. (When) you'll see 2013 next to it, it's even more special. It's something no one can ever take away from you."
With one up and another soon to follow, do the Hawks ever wonder if they can add another and another and another ...?
"Absolutely," Toews said. "That's our goal every year. That's a pretty amazing thing that we don't count ourselves out ever.
"We know it's a long road to get there and that there will be some challenges to have a successful regular season like we had last year ... but when playoff time comes, I don't think we're a team anybody should bet against. We have that belief ... that we can do something special and make something out of every opportunity."
Added defenseman Duncan Keith: "We don't play the game to not win. ... We know what we have in the room and the potential, and it's just a matter of trying to reach it."
Before the Hawks can focus on the grand scheme, they will try not to be distracted by the pomp and circumstance surrounding the banner raising that will delay the start of the game about 20 minutes and will feature interactive fan involvement.
When the Hawks raised the banner in 2010, they followed the ceremony with a 3-2 loss to the Red Wings. Last season, the Hawks were in Los Angeles to watch the Kings raise their 2012 banner in a lengthy ceremony, then proceeded to spoil the party with a 5-2 victory.
"The ceremony will come first and we'll enjoy that, but everyone is focused on how we're going to play," Kane said. "We played in LA and had our warm-ups and then had about an hour before we played the game, and we came out pretty strong. We scored three goals in the first period, so maybe we can take something from that."
Said Keith of the ceremony: "For players, those things are nice to be a part of and you certainly want to be part of a championship team, but at the same time we're preparing for our game that night. That's where our focus is. It's going to be cool to see the banner go up and it will be exciting for fans and everybody, but as players we have a job to do."
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