SEATTLE -- Tucked away from public view at the Scotiabank Saddledome is the small security shed that stands guard over the players' parking lot.

For six years, Noah Hanifin drove up to this shed where he would see the familiar faces of attendants who've welcomed numerous Calgary Flames players before home games. But when Thursday arrives, the tinted windows of the Vegas Golden Knights charter bus will cruise past that shed, making Hanifin just another visitor to the Saddledome.

The trade that sent Hanifin from the Flames to Las Vegas is a little more than a week old. It's enough time for Hanifin to play a few games, have a couple of practices and get to know his new teammates. It's also the amount of time he'll have before returning to Calgary for the first time since being traded.

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"It's been a pretty crazy week. ... Going back to Calgary after this game will be fun. It'll be cool," Hanfin told ESPN before the Golden Knights' 5-4 overtime win against the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday night. "It'll probably be a little weird being on the other bench, but I'm just going in and trying to get a huge win for the team."

The circumstances around Hanifin's eventual departure from the Flames had been a frequently discussed subject for more than a year. The Flames fell short of a playoff berth by three points last season. That led to a coaching change, followed by a change in general manager.

New Flames GM Craig Conroy was tasked with trying to get the Flames back into a playoff spot while managing a roster that had several players entering the final year of their deals. Hanifin was among those players who were pending UFAs.

Daily Faceoff reported last offseason that Hanifin didn't plan to re-sign with the Flames. Once the season started, the focus was on whether the Flames had enough to challenge for a playoff spot in a difficult Western Conference landscape. Over time, the conversations around Hanifin's future continued to get louder, reaching a fever pitch going into the trade deadline.

There was a belief that Hanifin was dictating to the Flames where he'd like to be traded. Hanifin told Sportsnet after the trade, "I was never holding the Flames hostage" while adding that he only had an eight-team no-trade clause. Hanifin said the discourse surrounding his future made it feel like, "it was positioned almost like I was doing it to spite Calgary, to hurt them," when that was never the plan.

Hanifin, who grew up in the Boston suburb of Norwood, Massachusetts, said he decided not to re-sign with the Flames because he and his fiancée would eventually want to raise their young family closer to home.

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Golden Knights center Jack Eichel, who also grew up in Massachusetts, has known Hanifin for quite some time. Their friendship was one that started to develop when they both played in the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Eichel said they always stayed in touch and talked about whatever was going on in their lives. Those discussions also included what was going on with Hanifin and his future with the Flames.

"For months now, it was seeing what he was hearing and we've had this conversation dating back to I think our pro camp that we do at [Boston University] in the summer," Eichel said. "It was just his feeling of potentially getting moved this year. Not knowing what the future held in Calgary and with some of the turnover they had over the last few years, I think he was uncertain about what that meant for him moving forward."

Hanifin has already found two significant benefits in his trade to the Knights. The first is leaving a retooling Flames team to join the Knights, who are trying to win a second straight Stanley Cup.

The second is the community the Knights provide. Of the 95 players who've played for the Golden Knights, less than 15 of them were drafted by the club. With everyone else coming from another organization, the team's veterans have developed a culture that has allowed new players to feel as if they've been there since day one.

Eichel, who was traded to the Golden Knights in 2022, said that hockey is the easy part when it comes to joining a new team. He said the organization's work behind the scenes to foster that environment has played a major role in why players have had an easy time adjusting to their new settings.

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"I think it's just that people are welcoming and friendly. I think that's the biggest thing," Eichel said. "Guys are helpful even down to each other's spouses and girlfriends. They get along and all the guys in the room get along. So whenever there's somebody new coming here, it's always a pretty seamless transition."

Hanifin said he felt that community once he was traded. He said several players immediately reached out and offered to help him with whatever he needed while getting settled at a hotel near the team's practice facility.

"To be a winning culture like this, it takes a lot of good people in the organization and that's been pretty evident since I've been here," Hanifin said. "It's been only three or four days, but it feels like I belong. It's been awesome getting to know all the guys and people on staff, the trainers. Everyone has been great."

It's possible Hanifin will feel a similar sense of community in Calgary on Thursday night. The Golden Knights know a teammate's first game back in a former home can be an emotional event.

Some of them have had an experience similar to that of Mark Stone when he played the Senators for the first time in Ottawa. Stone got a standing ovation following a video montage of his highlights in a Sens sweater. Others have played out differently. In Eichel's first game back in Buffalo against the Sabres, he received a mix of boos and cheers during his tribute video, and he was booed every time he touched the puck.

Calgary has had a mixed history when it comes to welcoming back former players. Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk got standing ovations on their return, while Johnny Gaudreau was continuously booed until he received a standing ovation after his video montage, only for the booing to continue afterward.

What does Hanifin think could be in store for him once he's back on the ice at the Saddledome a little more than a week after his final game in a Flames sweater?

"I can't control any of that, and that's something I try not to think about," Hanifin said. "I had a lot of good memories in Calgary and played on some awesome teams and met some really great people in that city. Going back will be good to play in front of all of them."