Blackhawks Classics: 1971 vs. Maple Leafs features eight Hall of Famers


Blackhawks Classics: 1971 vs. Maple Leafs features eight Hall of Famers

Stan Mikita remembered that picture of Bobby Hull in the newspaper, the one where his former Chicago Blackhawks' teammate held up an oversized check for 1 million when he signed with the Winnipeg Jets.
Mikita said some were angry at Hulls decision, crying in their beer, as he put it. But Mikita had a different reaction.
I got up and genuflected and said Thank you, Bobby, Mikita recalled. I keep saying, its the greatest move ever made by a hockey player, and Bobby Hull was the guy who did it. He gave us a new way of making a living. Now we can ask for more money and if they dont pay us we can go across the street and play for the other team. It was a hell of a move to do that for us and for himself, of course.
Six months prior to that signing in June of 1972, Hull and Mikita were in the midst of their final season together in Chicago, part of a Blackhawks squad that would win the West Division for the second consecutive season.
And on Friday night, Comcast SportsNet relives a classic from that season, the Blackhawks vs. Toronto Maple Leafs from Dec. 11, 1971.
Fridays Classic game featured eight future Hall of Fame inductees, including Mikita, Hull and Tony Esposito. The Blackhawks were in the midst of a 10-game undefeated streak at the time, and would go on to win the West by 21 points.
Earlier this week Mikita sat down with us to talk about those times, from that season to former teammates to his love of Chicago, where he played his entire career.
The big deal with this whole thing is my wife, Jill. She wanted to know if we belong here or if wed be happy somewhere else, Mikita said. I couldnt have drawn it any better than what transpired for our family. Someone said Chicagos a town that never shuts down. Theyre probably right. Great people.
And as for that 1971-72 team, what made it so good?
In one word: lucky. But Im kidding, of course, on that one, Mikita said. Billy Reay was our coach, and he gave us something to work for and with and put the right people together. All the fellows were on a one-way ticket to nowhere before that. When Billy had his famous talks, thats what turned us around.

Comcast SportsNet will be re-airing Blackhawks Classics until the NHL lockout comes to an end. Tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. for the 1971 vintage re-air of a black and white "Hockey Night in Canada" telecast.

Join in on the conversation during tonight's game by using HawksClassics on Twitter.

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks


Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle discuss Nick Schmaltz returning to the Blackhawks line-up on Wednesday night and which player is looking forward most to his return?

They also weigh in on Corey Crawford’s incredible start to the season and why he’s the major reason why the Hawks begin the week in first place in the Central.

They also discuss who is the biggest Hawks rivalry right now, which new defenseman has impressed the most and how is Connor Murphy dealing with being a healthy scratch at times this season?

Plus, they discuss someone other than Nick Schmaltz returning to work on Wednesday night.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: