Jordin Tootoo was part of that Nashville Predators-Blackhawks series in 2010. Ask him what he remembers from those six games, and he gives a what-do-you-think smile.
"Marian Hossa taking a five-minute major, coming out of the penalty box and scoring the OT winner," Tootoo said with a laugh. "Basically sums it up."
Sure, that memory ranks high for many regardless of allegiance. But that series was also the start of a great, intense rivalry between the two teams, something that will resume on Thursday.
"Lot of emotions. Lot of battles, and that's what playoff hockey is all about. I think over the years, you create that energy and I think every guy wants to be a part of something special," he said. "I could remember when we tried to play the Blackhawks, it was going to be a battle. It's fun hockey."
Fast forward to the present day and for Tootoo, this series is about a few things. It's about facing his former team, with whom he started his career, went through some rough times and then started to get his life back together.
It's also about reality: at 34, Tootoo doesn't know how many more chances at a Stanley Cup he'll get. He wants to make the most of this one.
Tootoo will be part of the Blackhawks' fourth-line rotation when they open their first-round series against the Predators on Thursday night. He has been in and out of the lineup this season but has been good when he's played. His last game against the Predators, in which he scored his first goal with the Blackhawks, was one of his best of the season.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Tootoo has been a team-first guy all season.
"It's gotta be an exciting time for him. He has a great history there and certainly brought a lot to our team this year. He's been very well liked and accepted by his teammates, brings an element to our team you need at times and applied it at the perfect moments this year," Quenneville said. "He's worked hard as the season progressed and gives us an option to have that type of guy in our lineup. As we go along here, we'll see. But certainly put him in a position to start with us. You need that type of guy. He knows the role, job description and importance. We're looking forward for him to be a part of it."
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Tootoo has garnered teammates' respect, be it his work ethic – he's usually the first guy on the ice at practice – to his words. Tootoo gave a second-intermission pep talk prior to the Blackhawks scoring five third-period goals to beat the Colorado Avalanche, 6-3, on March 19. As far as being in the postseason lineup (at least for now), Tootoo is ready for the chance.
"At this point in my career, everything is a bonus here," Tootoo said. "But it's a business. For me, I try to use every day to get better both on and off the ice. It's a privilege to play this game and (this is) the best time of year – to be playing in the playoffs."
Nashville will always be a special part of Tootoo's life. He started his NHL career there, spent eight seasons there, began his now six years of sobriety there. Right now, however, the drive for the Stanley Cup looms larger.
"I think personally, for me, you want to have a bit more bite, and I'm definitely going to have that," Tootoo said. "I played a lot of years in Nashville. I have great memories there. But I'm a Blackhawk now and I'm going to do whatever it takes."