The last time Troy Brouwer watched a banner go up inside the United Center, he and the Blackhawks were entering the 2010-11 season as defending Stanley Cup champions.
Three seasons later, Brouwer is back on Madison Street as another banner waits to go up, but this time he'll be watching from the visiting bench.
"Mixed emotions, obviously," Brouwer said about starting the season in Chicago. "I'm happy for the guys here that I played with, I'm happy for the city but at the same point, (I'm) jealous. I wanna be raising the banner in Washington. Hopefully with the Cup in here tonight and the guys being able to see what the celebration is like and how it is to win it and how your city embraces you, hopefully that can light a fire under your ass to have a good start and hopefully can win it ourselves this year."
After spending five seasons with the Blackhawks, Brouwer is beginning his third year with the Capitals. Although returning to the United Center brings his emotions full circle, Brouwer still finds joy in being back where his professional career began.
"It's always fun to come back to where you started in the NHL, where I was able to win a Cup," he said. "A lot of ties here, a lot of good memories here, but mixed emotions when you come back. You wanna play hard against your old team, but at the same point, sometimes it's tough to leave."
Although Brouwer is no longer with the Blackhawks, he hasn't entirely left Chicago. He and and his family still spend the offseason in the Windy City, but the former Hawks forward decided to leave town for a bit during the Stanley Cup Final.
"I left when they were in the Finals because I didn't wanna have to be around for all that," he said. "I still get recognized within the city and a lot of people say they wish I was still here, but I've moved on. I'm happy for the guys here but my focus is winning a Cup in Washington right now and I didn't really want to be a part of anything that was going on during the Finals here in Chicago."
With the start of the 2013-14 season just around the corner, Brouwer says the Capitals' plan heading into their matchup with the Blackhawks is to "rain on their parade."
Tuesday night will begin with Chicago's banner-raising ceremony, and Brouwer hopes Washington can use the later start time to their advantage.
"It can be a distraction when you're raising the banner," he said. "The ceremony is a long, drawn-out process that they have to be on the ice for. We get to sit in the room and rest and relax and kind of just focus, so we're gonna try to jump on them real quick because of that delayed start. Their mindset may not be focused 100 percent on hockey to begin the game."