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.

Eric Semborski gets his own hockey card as Blackhawks' emergency goalie

Eric Semborski gets his own hockey card as Blackhawks' emergency goalie

Eric Semborski lived out his childhood dream by calling himself a National Hockey League goaltender for one day, and he will never forget it.

Now there's proof nobody will.

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Topps revealed Wednesday that it has produced a trading card for the 23-year-old after he signed a one-day contract on an amateur tryout basis to serve as the emergency backup goaltender for the Blackhawks in Saturday's contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

While he didn't see any action, Semborski said after the game that absorbing shots during warmups from some of the best players in the league was “the best 20 minutes of my life.”

Add this to the memory bank of a story that keeps getting better.

Jonathan Toews donates $1 million to community center in Winnipeg

Jonathan Toews donates $1 million to community center in Winnipeg

Jonathan Toews was the highest paid player in the NHL this past year, and he's giving back to the community that helped him become one of the best players in the league.

The Blackhawks captain donated $1 million to the Dakota Community Centre in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised, making it the largest ever private donation to a community centre in Manitoba.

“From my earliest days playing hockey, Dakota Community Centre has always played a pivotal role in my upbringing and my career," Toews said in a statement. “Today, I continue to be honoured to have my name associated with the Sportsplex on the Dakota campus. My parents have instilled in me the importance of giving back, and I believe that in supporting Dakota, we will see endless possibilities for the Community Centre’s future and transformation in the lives of our community members.”

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Toews will also serve as the honorary chairman for the Dakota Futures Capital Campaign, which will support the construction of a new 60,000-square-foot, $20-million fieldhouse and future development of the campus.

The fieldhouse will include a 30,000-square-foot gymnasium that will contain multiple court sports, such as basketball and volleyball, sport training and conditioning, all of which will be connected to the Jonathan Toews Sportsplex. It's expected to open in the fall of 2017.

The Sportsplex was named in Toews' honor in 2010, and includes two indoor ice rinks, a gymnasium, and strength training facilities, among others.

“We are so proud that Jonathan has chosen to give back to the community in this way," said Toews' parents Andrée Gilbert and Bryan Toews. "Our family has such fond memories of hockey practices and friendships made at the Dakota Community Centre. We look forward to the opening of the new Fieldhouse and the continued growth of the Dakota  campus. Through programs for all ages and acting as a gathering place in our community, the Dakota Community Centre transforms thousands of lives each year."