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25 IN 25: Monuments to Excellence

On October 22, 2011, Blackhawk legends Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull were immortalized with statues outside the United Center

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 Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita were named official ambassadors of the Blackhawks in 2007, the two Hall of Famers assumed they'd finished savoring the last vestiges of overdue recognition. When President/CEO John McDonough later summoned them to his office, at least one of them wondered if he was finished, period.

"I thought maybe I was getting fired," quipped Mikita.

Instead, Hull and Mikita were informed that the organization would immortalize them with statues. On October 22, 2011, the magnificent monuments to excellence were unveiled at a pregame outdoor ceremony on the northeast corner of the United Center, just shy of West Madison Street.

"It's a great night," said Hull to a gathering that included Chairman Rocky Wirtz, McDonough, families, friends and former players. "The only thing I can say is that it is likely, without argument, the greatest evening of my life. To have a bronze depicting me here where hundreds of thousands of people will walk by and say, 'Yeah, I remember him. Yeah, he could play a little bit.' This is a wonderful tribute to Stan and I."

The seven-foot statues, each weighing about 1,500 pounds, were erected on five-foot granite pedestals. Created by the husband-and-wife team of Julie Rotblatt and Omni Amrany, the action figures consisted of white bronze, zinc and nickel, plus a vibrant red for their sweaters. Over a 10-month period, the designers sought input from Hull and Mikita.

"It's amazing…it's him," offered Stan's wife, Jill, after each of the icons removed a black curtain from his statue.

"It hasn't sunk in and I don't know if it ever will," said Stan. "I've never been called beautiful, but I'm going to call myself beautiful now. That this immigrant from Slovakia should be honored for his hard work with this incredible statue is something I never thought would happen."

Video: 25 in 25: Statue dedication

The Amranys also crafted the world-famous Michael Jordan statue beside the United Center, and Patrick Kane remarked that "Hull and Mikita mean just as much to the Blackhawks organization as Jordan did to the Bulls."

Upon joining the franchise in 2007, McDonough pledged to embrace the Blackhawks' past.

"A few years ago, I experienced a very poignant moment when a fan from the 300 level unfurled a banner that read simply, 'The Pride Is Back,'" he said. "Tonight we honor the two greatest players who have ever worn the Chicago Blackhawks sweater."

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