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Cheers expected for two Jets on return to Chicago

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CHICAGO — They know what’s coming on Thursday night and it’ll be no run-of-the-mill game at United Center.

When they meet the Winnipeg Jets (7:30 p.m. CT, TSN national, TSN radio 1290), the Chicago Blackhawks will be facing off against a couple of former teammates in the name of Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, players who helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2009.

"They’ll get cheers," Hawks centre Patrick Sharp, himself a Winnipeg native, said today after the team’s practice. "Absolutely they were two players who were a big part of a championship-winning team. The fans haven’t forgotten it, I know that much.

"Buff was one of those guys that brought a smile to everyone’s face. I’m sure he’s doing the same in Winnipeg. If they score a goal they might not get a big cheer but for the introductions, it’ll be there."

Chicago faced Jets captain Ladd and Byfuglien last season when the duo played for the Atlanta Thrashers. The game was played in Atlanta.

In Chicago this time, Hawks defenceman Duncan Keith, also born in Winnipeg, said it’s a different matter.

"It’ll be exciting, fun to see those two guys back in the building here," Keith said today. "I’m sure they’ll be excited to play back here in front of Blackhawks fans, fans who used to cheer for them.

"They were a big part of our team that year we won, a big part of our success. It’ll be fun, but they’re good players on a good team and we’ll be ready and really focused on the game, too."

The Jets, 0-1, begin a two-game road swing against the 1-1 Hawks on Thursday, before moving on to Glendale, Ariz., to face the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

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