Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito and Some Wine

My mom was a big hockey fan in the 60's. Of course, most of Chicago loved the Blackhawks in the 60's. The Hawks were exciting and loaded with talent. Unfortunately, the 70's (and 80's and 90's) were not so good for the Blackhawks or their fans. I grew up watching some mediocre teams (or not watching them, as they were not on regular tv).
Lately, the Hawks have started to regain the attention of Chicago. Along with the new attitude, marketing philosophy, televised games and young stars, the Hawks have also been embracing their past. For a team with such a rich history, this would seem to be natural, but it took a while to get here.
Tony Esposito and Bobby Hull are 2 Hall of Famers who wore the great Blackhawks crest. Esposito came over from Montreal and earned the nickname 'Tony O' (as in 0 goals allowed) over the next 15 years. After 14 fantastic years in Chicago, Hull left to play in the new WHA (after the Hawks would not offer him the money he deserved).
Esposito and Hull are 2 of the legends in the NHL Legends Signature Wine Series. I had the pleasure of meeting these legends at a wine signing event at Binny's Beverages in the south loop. This was a real thrill.
I heard that the previous night, they had stayed several hours later at another wine signing. They wanted to accomodate every last fan there. Despite the overtime, they both arrived on time and raring to go. Hull immediately started joking with the staff and fans. Esposito was his usual dapper self, but just as friendly as Hull. I have met a lot of stars (and my star-struck days are finally mostly over), but meeting and talking to these 2 was awesome. It would be hard to meet 2 bigger stars together.
When I went to take the picture with them, Espo stood up, while Hull remained seated. As I started to sort of pose halfway between each, Esposito lightly slapped me on the back of my head and told me to stand up. It was hilarious. It was simply just an old-school Italian fatherly gesture.
Esposito's wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Hull's wine is a Chardonnay (or Golden Chardonnay, as Hull liked to say). Like both former players, both wines are also Hall of Famers.
Bobby Hull, me and Tony Esposito in Chicago, IL-December 2008.


Unknown said...

Two icons of Chicago sports fromteh sixties - I remember going to Blackhawk games back tehn; second row behind Esposito (back in the day the players would enter and exit from behind the goal). Also rememebr going to teh Bismark Theatre for closed circuit of teh Stanley Cup. Great memories . . .

Johngy said...

Yeah, closed circuit...the pay-per-view of back then. I just love the old Hawks of the 70's. So many great names (even if they weren't great players).

Anonymous said...

I to loved the old Blackhawks. I remember many nights watching them. Never was lucky enough to go to a game back then. However a few years ago I did get to see the Hawks from a Skybox. That was awesome.