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25 IN 25: Ambassadors Return

On March 7, 2008, two franchise icons were re-introduced as the organization's first team ambassadors

by Bob Verdi /

To celebrate 25 years of Blackhawks hockey at the United Center, looks back on the top 25 moments with '25 in 25'

When John McDonough became President of the Blackhawks, his job was freighted with obstacles. One of the first items on a cumbersome to-do list was to repair fractured relationships. Within a month of McDonough's arrival, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were hired as official team ambassadors.

Obviously, the response among fans was overwhelmingly positive. But on the evening of March 7, 2008, the connection between the franchise and two of its icons fully registered before 21,908 at the United Center. Wearing sweaters they made famous - Hull's No 9 and Mikita's No. 21 - the Hall of Famers rode onto the ice seated in a a shiny Chevrolet convertible, vintage late 1950s.

That's when Hull and Mikita joined the Blackhawks as kids who would contribute to a Stanley Cup in 1961 and well beyond. Now, five decades later, they remain the two most prolific scorers in Blackhawks' history.

"I'm overwhelmed," said Hull. "I've been away from Chicago for too long, but Chicago was never out of my heart. In 1957, I made a boyhood dream come true to play in the National Hockey League. Little did I know that for the next 15 years I would be living in the greatest city in the world and playing in front of the greatest fans in the world."

Hull left for the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association in 1972, after which he felt detached from the Blackhawks. As did Mikita, who played his entire career in Chicago. Both superstars had their jerseys retired at the Stadium, Mikita in 1980 and Hull in 1983, but on this night, they were back in the family. Before their game, current Blackhawks wore either a 9 or 21 during warmups.

"Our two honored guests tonight symbolize everything that is great about the Chicago Blackhawks," proclaimed McDonough. "These gentlemen represent the golden era of this franchise. They created the magic of 16,666 at the Madhouse on Madison."

Hull and Mikita both thanked the new chairman, Rocky Wirtz. When Mikita was asked about his role, he replied succinctly.

"I'll do whatever they want me to do," said Mikita. "I spent so many years proudly wearing the Indian head sweater. But tonight, I'm even prouder to be welcomed back and be part of the great moments that lie ahead for this great franchise. My family and I surely won't forget this for a long, long time."

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