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July 31, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Orleans Arena sees some NHL action

Chicago Blackhawks practice at the Wranglers’ home during Las Vegas vacation

Monday morning at the Orleans Arena was business as usual as the Las Vegas Wranglers and Bakersfield Condors prepared for tonight's game – until the Chicago Blackhawks strolled in to practice.

Yes, those Chicago Blackhawks, one of the NHL's "Original Six" franchises and the current fourth-place team in the Western Conference with a 27-13-8 record.

Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville decided to break up the grind of an eight-game road trip with a short Vegas vacation for his players.

"It's just a fun place to be and nice to be together as a team watching the Super Bowl and getting a break," Quenneville said. "It's a nice little change and I think the whole trip went well."

After dropping the San Jose Sharks 4-2 on Saturday night, the Blackhawks headed to the Bellagio for their hockey retreat.

The team watched the Super Bowl together on Sunday then practiced at the Orleans Arena Monday prior to boarding a flight to Edmonton for a showdown with the Oilers on Tuesday night.

"It's been amazing," said Blackhawks' left-winger Kris Versteeg, who has 14 goals and 24 assists in 45 games this season. "We've had some team bonding. Just to get out here with all the guys and have a good time. It was pretty cool."

Chicago skated for about 45 minutes at the Orleans Arena while many Wranglers and Condors players admired from the stands.

Even though the Wranglers' humble ECHL abode is no United Center, the Blackhawks said they felt right at home.

"This is really a great building," Quenneville said. "It's been perfect. We had a great set up and I think that helped lead to a good practice, too."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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