Blackhawks remember legendary star Stan Mikita in emotional pregame tribute
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The Blackhawks opened their home season with an emotional ceremony honoring late Hall of Fame center Stan Mikita, who died Aug. 7 at 78.
‘‘His talent and grace on the ice was matched only by his character and heart off the ice,’’ said master of ceremonies Pat Foley, the Hawks’ TV voice.
The pregame ceremony included a video tribute to Mikita, with highlights of his 22-year career with the Hawks and him reminiscing about his time in Chicago. Mikita’s widow, Jill, his children and his grandchildren joined Hawks ambassadors Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, Denis Savard and Chris Chelios — all wearing Mikita’s No. 21 jersey with the captain’s ‘‘C’’ on the front — on the ice for the tribute.
‘‘[Mikita] beautifully represented the Blackhawks and the city of Chicago both on and off the ice, and that did not end when his playing career did,’’ Foley said. ‘‘He continued to exemplify what it means to be a Chicago Blackhawk with his involvement in the community and in steadfast commitment to the organization. One of the things he always said: ‘Remember where you came from.’ He did.’’
A sellout crowd stood, applauded and cheered throughout the 10-minute ceremony, which also featured a 21-second moment of silence in memory of Mikita and Ab McDonald, one of his teammates on the 1961 Stanley Cup championship team, who died Sept. 4. Jill Mikita dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff between Hawks captain Jonathan Toews and Maple Leafs star John Tavares.
‘‘Special Blackhawk,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said before the game. ‘‘Stan meant everything to the organization. He was special not only to the organization but the community. Always remembered for what he meant.
‘‘It was tough when we lost him this summer, and tonight will be special. Nice to see [his number behind] the nets, and having No. 21 on the jerseys is special, as well.’’
Quenneville stayed with Cam Ward in goal against the Maple Leafs and made only one lineup change after the Hawks won their first two games.
John Hayden replaced Andreas Martinsen on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger and Luke Johnson and tied the score 3-3 with a goal in the second period.
The Jokiharju Factor
Henri Jokiharju, the Hawks’ 19-year-old defenseman, has made a good first impression. But he’s still a rookie and figures to have moments where opposing teams take advantage of his inexperience. Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock seemed to think so, anyway.
‘‘Obviously, we liked him in the  draft,’’ Babcock said when asked about Jokiharju. ‘‘I remember [assistant coach]
Jim Hiller and I talked a lot about him. We were in those meetings, and we really thought he was a good player.
‘‘He’s obviously got really good offensive skill. Can really move the puck, can skate, can shoot it, is intelligent. Yet in all young guys, in the heavy going in the defensive zone when people are switching around and it gets rolling around, it’s hard for them at the start of their career. It just is.’’