*This story was originally published on June 20, 2018*
During this defining decade, the Blackhawks have staged three truly exceptional home openers. In 2010, 2013 and 2015, they began the season as defending Stanley Cup champions. Before a puck was dropped, a banner was raised.
That won't be happening this autumn, but for starters, here is a circle for your calendar. The Toronto Maple Leafs, venerable Original Six adversaries, will invade the United Center on Sunday, Oct. 7. It will be the 650th regularly programmed confrontation between these rivals, not to mention or forget nine playoff series, many of them impolite.
Among other notable home debuts, the United Center christening on Jan. 25, 1995, surely qualifies. With the National Hockey League campaign delayed by a management-labor impasse, the Blackhawks finally commenced an abbreviated 48-game schedule by defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 5-1. Joe Murphy scored the first goal in the shiny new building, assisted by Jeremy Roenick and Chris Chelios.