Blackhawks honor Hull, Mikita

CHICAGO (TICKER) —The Chicago Blackhawks currently are getting a glimpse of their future. On Friday, they honored two stars of their storied past.

Before taking on the San Jose Sharks, the Blackhawks paid tribute to Hall of Famers Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita during a pregame ceremony at the United Center.

With youngsters Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews - who rank second and fourth in scoring, respectively, among NHL rookies - looking on, Chicago officially welcomed the two legends back into the club’s family.

Hull and Mikita recently were chosen to serve as team ambassadors after enjoying illustrious careers with the Blackhawks in the 1960s and 1970s.

Former Blackhawk Ed Olczyk served as the master of ceremonies, while team chairman Rocky Wirtz received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd.

“This is a special night in Blackhawks hockey history as we welcome back two guys who always had time for the fans,” Olczyk said.

“We welcome tonight two players who are larger than life and played the game that way,” Wirtz added.

A number of former Blackhawks were in attendance, including Reggie Kerr, Grant Mulvey, current general manager Dale Tallon and San Jose GM Doug Wilson, who stepped onto the ice wearing his former No. 24 Chicago jersey.

After team president John McDonough addressed the crowd, Hull and Mikita finally had their chance.

“In 1957, I made a boyhood dream come true and got to play hockey for 15 years in the greatest city in the world,” Hull said. “In 1972, I left this city and thought I would never be a part of this organization again. Well, if you stick around long enough, you can get a second chance to kick the cat.”

“My years of wearing the Indian-head sweater were very special,” Mikita said. “I am proud to be welcomed back to this great franchise and will not forget this moment. To our new and current players, I say, ‘We are behind you, win or tie.’”

Chicago’s all-time leader in goals with 604, Hull became the first player in NHL history to score more than 50 in a season when he notched 52 in 1966-67. Known as “The Golden Jet,” he is a three-time Art Ross Trophy winner and two-time Hart Trophy recipient and was one of the first forwards to effectively use the slap shot.

The first Czechoslovakian-born player in the NHL, Mikita holds the Blackhawks’ records for most games (1,394), assists (926) and points (1,467). He won the Hart Trophy twice and captured the Art Ross Trophy on four occasions.

Mikita also is the only player in league history to win the Art Ross, Hart and Lady Byng Trophies in the same season, accomplishing the feat twice (1966-67 and 1967-68). The first player to have his uniform number retired by Chicago, he was among the pioneers in the development and use of the curved hockey stick.

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Updated Friday, Mar 7, 2008