Dave Bolland walked into the United Center’s visiting locker room, prompting the inevitable strange feelings for the former Chicago Blackhawks center.
“It's a little different going the other way. You almost you walk in here, you're almost walking straight in,” Bolland said to the media prior to the Blackhawks hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs. “It's nice getting back here and have some fun.”
Bolland had his reunion fun on Friday night, having dinner with Jonathan Toews and others. But the good times and old stories come to an end as soon as the puck drops. His start with the Leafs has been strong, as he’s collected three goals and three assists in his first eight games. And being back in his hometown is an added bonus.
“It has been a positive. It's nice to get back to my family and get back home,” he said. “Toronto's where I grew up and watched the Leafs for so long…. Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark and all those guys, those are the guys that I watched when I lived in Toronto. To come back and play for them and to have some success here is great.”
It was tough for Bolland to say goodbye to the Blackhawks, the organization that drafted him and with whom he won two Stanley Cups. His final on-ice minutes with the club are enduring, netting that game -- and Cup -- winning goal in what will go down as one of the most unforgettable Cup clinchers ever.
The Maple Leafs have been picking his brain on what it feels like to win that Cup, let alone two.
“I think you do have some questions that some guys ask, what happens or how'd it go. Even assistant coaches, they ask for little things,” he said. “It's a long road to get there when you look at it. It's not easy. But as of right now, for us, that's our path here is to try to get back to there.”
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Bolland’s time with the Blackhawks is in the past now. He still keeps in touch with some Blackhawks, will probably still get together with them when he’s in Chicago or they’re in Toronto. But every time the puck drops, well, The Rat takes over.
“It was nice to see some of the guys. But in a few minutes, I don't think they'll be my friends,” he said. “Just joking. It'll be good. It'll be a fun game.”