After enjoying an eleven-day homestand, one that featured three key victories that have propelled the Bruins into contention for the Northeast Division crown, the B's are well rested and hope to extend to their recent streak of success during a quick visit to the Midwest.
And while many of the Bruins players wouldn’t mind staying around an extra night to continue their trend of convincing home victories mixed in among some important early season rest and relaxation, a few members of the invigorated B’s are very much looking forward to their own type of homecoming in Chicago.
One of those players is defenseman Mark Stuart, who seems to be just about the only member of his family who doesn’t live in the Chicago area.
“My extended family is pretty much all from Illinois,” Stuart said. “My grandparents still live in a town called La Salle, which is about an hour from Chicago, and my father went to medical school at Rush [Medical College] in Chicago.”
Stuart’s brothers were also born in the Windy City prior to his family moving to Minnesota, where his father completed his residency while training to be a physician.
However the rest of his family, including his sister and a whole batch of cousins, remain in Illinois.
On the hockey side, and adding another element of excitement to the Chicago-Stuart story, Mark’s brother, Colin, currently plays for the Chicago Wolves, the Atlanta Thrashers AHL club, and lives in the Second City with his fiancée.
“This is really fun because I love that city -- I love Chicago,” Stuart continued.“ Growing up I was always a Chicago sports fan and it will certainly be fun to go back.”
Mark’s teammate, forward Milan Lucic
, also looks forward to tomorrow night’s clash of Original Six foes, as a large majority of one side of his family still remain in Chicago after immigrating there years ago.
“A lot of family from my grandma’s side still live in the area,” Lucic explained. “A lot of them, or most of them, when they first came to America immigrated to Chicago and they’re still there.
“A bunch of my cousins live around the area now, as well, so there’s going to be a good twenty people from my family at the game.”
With so much love and support in the United Center on Wednesday night, the teammates are pumped about the opportunity to play in front of a ‘home’ crowd. However, understanding of the importance of this crucial Original Six contest, Stuart and Lucic will try and keep emotions under wrap until the final horn sounds.
“You try not to think about it too much,” Lucic said. “You try to approach the game as you usually would, but you’re also just happy that your family is out there supporting you.
“The fact that they’re willing to come support you and they’re happy for you, its awesome. I’m just (thrilled) that they’re able to come see me play and that there supporting me the way they are.”
“It’s not really much different, but it will be nice to see some people,” Stuart agreed. “But as far as playing goes, you’ve just got to go out there and face it like just another game. I don’t really think about anything of that other stuff (once the puck is dropped).”