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Talk'n Hawks

Happy 85th Birthday

Birthday wishes in a moment. First, the Hawks will host the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center tomorrow night. Everyone is excited to see the newest (and former) NHL franchise, making it a pretty expensive ticket. Even my son wants a Jets hat, ok my me, it is a pretty cool logo. Game time 7:30 pm Central.

On November 26, 2011, the Chicago Blackhawks will celebrate their 85th birthday. To celebrate this occasion, Blackhawks Magazine and chicagoblackhawks.com will, on every Wednesday, run a story on a different player throughout the history of the franchise. The stories will be told through “the people who knew them best: teammates, rivals, broadcasters and other members of the NHL community.”

Today, Bobby Hull was the chosen topic. Fellow teammate, team Captain, and Hall Of Fame defense man, Pierre Pilote reminisced about the Golden Jet. Here are a few excerpts from the writing. The entire story is, of course, on the website.

Let me start with this: Bobby Hull was, and always has been, a good friend to me. For years, we sat beside each other in the dressing room, down the stairs of the Chicago Stadium. And our relationship was very good, both on and off the ice.

I go back to the time when I first saw him. I was playing for Buffalo, and he was playing with my brother, Florent, I think in Galt, Ontario. He came down when I was getting ready to play a game, and that was the first time I met him. He was just a kid with a big, blond head of hair, but you knew he was going to be a good player just because it was clear how much he wanted it.

The second time I saw him he was playing beside me in an exhibition game and scored two goals against New York. They called his mom and dad and said, “We want to talk to you. We want to sign Bobby to an NHL contract.” The rest, as they say, is history.

During a game or in a practice, we always played off of each other very well and knew each other’s every move. He would give the puck to me, and I would know he’d want it back. Or I’d jump in the hole, and he’d pass it to me. We really got along great.

Without a doubt, “The Golden Jet” was the most exciting player of our generation, and he could fill up an arena. Bobby lifted you right out of your seat. When he took off down the ice, you felt the crowd hold their breath, and if I was on the bench, I would too. When he picked up the puck, you kind of went with him. It was not a question whether he was going to be passing the puck to someone else to shoot in: He was going on net and letting one go. More often than not, it went in. The goaltenders feared his shot.

I watched Bobby play some tremendous games, but it was amazing to be sitting beside him, because hey, he was really just one of the boys. As far as getting along, Bobby got along with every player. He was nice to me, nice to my family, and he was just something to see when we traveled on the road. After the game, when we were supposed to be catching the bus, there were always big lines to meet him, and he would sign every autograph. He put on a show; there’s no doubt about that. Every athlete has to believe they’re great, but Bobby never let it get in the way of being a good teammate.

One of my best memories of Bobby wasn’t a personal highlight but a team effort: winning the Stanley Cup in 1961. Bobby was coming into his own, I was coming into my own, and Stan Mikita and Glenn Hall and everybody seemed to hit their top. We had acquired some pretty good guys like Al Arbour and Dollard St. Laurent and Jack Evans, and they made a big difference. We were a team that played together and wanted to win; no one person was bigger than the team. We just really wanted to win, and it worked out for us. You’ve got to have a little bit of luck and have good players; we had both.

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