Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Brandon Saad faces new challenges with Blue Jackets

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Blackhawks: Brandon Saad faces new challenges with Blue Jackets

Brandon Saad lined up at center ice once again with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa for the opening face-off on Saturday. Only this time he was across from them.

"It's different being on the other side," Saad said following a 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks.

The feeling wasn't any different for the Blackhawks, even though they didn't change sides.

"He's been a part of us for a few big years," Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa said. "Seeing him on the other side was weird."

[MORE: Brandon Saad returns to Chicago with 'a lot of emotions']

Corey Crawford, who stopped 22 shots in the win, echoed those sentiments after having to face Saad in a real game as opposed to a practice.

"It's tough," Crawford said. "We went to war with those guys, had a lot of good times. To see them move on is definitely hard, and a little weird too to see them in another jersey."

It was strange for everyone.

In fact, Blackhawks rookie Artemi Panarin accidentally skated to the Blue Jackets' side of the ice when coming out for the second period, and it makes you wonder if Saad even noticed.

Saad, who was traded to the Blue Jackets in the offseason due to salary cap restraints, spent his first four seasons with the Blackhawks, and played a large role in the team's 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup runs.

Chicago didn't forget.

A sold-out United Center crowd of 21,563 sprinkled with red No. 20 jerseys gave Saad a standing ovation during a first period TV timeout as the Blackhawks welcomed back the two-time champion and thanked him for his services.

"That's always nice to have a standing [ovation] and have the support," Saad said. "I had a great time here. The fans are great here."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Following Saturday's loss, the Blue Jackets slipped to 0-6-0, their worst start in franchise history. That part hasn't been easy for Saad, who's still making the transition from a Stanley Cup winning team to one that's looking to one day get there.

"It's been tough. I've never been in a position like this before," he said. "It's something we've got to work out, it's a challenge we've got to embrace. It being my first time in this position, it's all new and all about learning, but it's something we've got to change here."

Saad returns to Columbus with the next two days off before they seek their first win on Tuesday, but isn't leaving Chicago without praising the Blackhawks for his time there.

"It's a great city, great organization to come back to to play against and it's always a fun building to play in," Saad said. "A lot of memories here."

Get caught up with your latest Blackhawks news ahead of 2018 NHL Draft

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Get caught up with your latest Blackhawks news ahead of 2018 NHL Draft

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Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule: