Talking Chicago and Stanley Cups with Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita
Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita both thought they'd win more than one Stanley Cup
Hull tells the current Blackhawks to make the most of this chance to win the title
It was painful for both former stars watch the Blackhawks slide into decay
SI: Tell us what you remember about coming to Chicago.
Bobby Hull: I had never been out of Ontario in my life. I wasn't ready to turn pro. I wanted to go to college on some sort of scholarship, hockey or baseball. I was offered a football scholarship to Colorado Springs. I was enrolled in high school playing football for Ste. Catharines on a Friday night and got home to my billet's. I walked in at six and my billet said, "You're in trouble." Bob Wilson, the chief scout for the Blackhawks, had been calling every 15 minutes since four. I had just sat down for dinner when the telephone rang and she said, "You better get it, because it's going to be for you." It was Wilson. He said, "Where the hell have you been until six o'clock? Playing football! Don't you know you're supposed to be down at the St. Catharine's Arena getting ready for an exhibition game against the New York Rangers?" I had no idea, so I rushed and got ready, got tickets for my billets and girlfriend just in time to play this exhibition game.
Gump Worsley was in goal for the Rangers. I got lucky and scored two goals. After the game, Tommy Ivan, the general manager, said, "Do you think you can get your parents up here tomorrow?" And I said, "Well, my father can't just leave the Canada Cement Company at any time." I still had no idea why they were doing this. So my parents came up and Ivan said, "We want to sign your kid to a professional contract for $6,500." My father looked at me and said, "I thought you were going to school." My mother said, "Oh, Robert, it's something you've dreamed about all your life." So I told my dad, "Well, we'll know in a year of I can hack it or not. If not, I can always go back to school." They agreed and that's how we got to Chicago. All of a sudden, I'm in the great state of Illinois. I didn't know anything about the city. But I wasn't here very long before I found out what a beautiful city it was, how great the people are, how great they were at the old barn across the street, the old Chicago Stadium.
Stan Mikita: There's no way you signed that contract for $6,500.
Bobby Hull: Well I would've signed for $2,500, but they gave me a $1,000 bonus and $6,500. Why, how much did you get?
Stan Mikita: I came up two years later. I wasn't sure what the going rates were. The minimum, I knew, was $6,000. But I had been to two camps before and they didn't say anything to me, so at the third camp, they took me aside and said, "We're prepared to pay you $6,000." And I said, "Well, it might be good for half a year, Mr. Ivan, but I need more than that." So he said, "Get the hell out of my office."
Three days later he called me back and said, "Well, have you changed your mind?" I said I'd take $8,500. He says, "Oh, my...get the hell out of my office."
Three days later he did the same thing and I said I'd take $10,000. "You're playing games with me," he said. I told him, "Yes sir, but it's ridiculous what you're offering me. I've got two more years of junior."
Bobby Hull: I signed with Chicago when I was 13.
Stan Mikita: You mean you were on the negotiation list.
Bobby Hull: Right.
Stan Mikita: The rule if you played one game for the junior team that drafted you -- the St. Catherine's Teepees, which belonged to Chicago -- was the minute you set foot on that ice, you belonged to Chicago. You could play amateur, senior or whatever, but professionally you belonged to Chicago at 13 years old.
SI: So Stan, what about your start?
Stan Mikita: The Teepees coach told me to put some clothes together because he was taking me to the train station to go to Chicago. So I said, "What am I going to Chicago for?" And he said, "Well, they had an injury. They need you for the next game." So I got there expecting a sleeper car. They said, "You don't have a sleeper, not with this ticket." I sat there on this old rickety wooden chair. I never slept a wink. My back was killing me. So I get there and I'm in a coffee shop and I hear this deep, deep voice, saying, "Hey, what are you doing?" It was [Blackhawks coach] Rudy Pilous. I knew the voice. I said, "I'm having a coffee." He said, "Well, we need you at practice. Did you talk to Hull yet?" I hadn't, but they wanted me to meet him for the first practice. They weren't doing the morning skates then.
Bobby Hull: He was the guy who invented it.
Stan Mikita: Well, that's why everybody loved him. But that's how I got town. Rudy told me to go with Bobby and room with him for a few days. I played only one game that time, a cup of coffee, against the Montreal Canadiens. We had a faceoff in their end and Rudy said, "Go take it." So I go out to the ice, nervous, you know, and I see these knees that come up to about there (holds hand high). So I lean back, practically fall on my butt and look up. Guess who it was.
Bobby Hull: Jean Beliveau.
Stan Mikita: Mr. Beliveau. He was 6-foot-4 or 5 and I'll never forget, he stood there and said, "Welcome, kid."
Bobby Hull: He didn't say "Bienvenue?"
Stan Mikita: Hey, let me finish my story. So they drop the puck and I just want to get my stick on it somehow. I got it back to the point. It deflected and should have been a goal, but the goalie made a fantastic stop. So that was my initiation.
Bobby Hull: And he's not telling you that in that game he went down the ice on Doug Harvey, the Norris Trophy-winner I don't know how many years. And Harvey, until the day he died, was still looking for his jock strap. You knew then with Stan. You could see it.
SI Now: Jon Wertheim on no such thing as job security in NBA
SI Now: Lem Barney's statements hold some validity