Things sure have changed around the Blackhawks since Michal Handzus last played here in 2006-07.

Like hockey actually matters around town.

When Handzus played eight games with the Hawks in '06-07, the United Center was half empty for games, Jonathan Toews was a year away from joining the club, Patrick Kane hadn't even been drafted yet and players could walk down the street without being recognized.

"It's totally different," Handzus said Wednesday after his first practice with the team. "I remember 10,000 people in the stands and now, playing against the Hawks for the last six years, the building is great, it's full and there's a lot of excitement. Obviously, they won a Cup in 2010 so it's totally different."

Patrick Sharp was with the Hawks back then and said Handzus won't recognize the place.

"He's at the best place in the league, if you ask me," Sharp said, "so I'll be curious to see how he reacts to everything over the next few weeks.

"He was one of our top forwards the last time he was here and I don't think anyone knew who he was. Today I think he answered more questions in the last five minutes than he did all of that season."

Handzus skated at right wing on the fourth line with Marcus Kruger at practice Wednesday.

"I'll play wherever they want me and I'll do whatever I can to help the team," Handzus said. "I'll play wing, center, whatever is needed. I'm coming to a great team and there's nothing better I can ask for."