As a young Blackhawks rookie during the 1969-1970 season, Cliff Koroll filled the very big skates of Kenny Wharram
as the right wing to Hawks legend Stan Mikita
. Koroll scored a hat trick early that year and he went to not only play alongside Mikita but roomed with him for more than a decade.
Both Mikita and Koroll were at Wrigley Field Tuesday. Mikita to talk up the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic with the media and Koroll to take a spin on skates around the rink.
"I wasn't originally going to come to the game because of the cold weather," said Koroll. "I'm getting my hip replaced Monday [Jan. 5] and didn't want to catch a cold or flu bug or anything, to mess up the surgery."
What changed his mind? Koroll said a friend offered him a spot in a suite that promises to be warm. He jumped a the chance to watch the new Hawks play.
"It's been a fantastic turnaround for this [Chicago] team in such s short time," said Koroll, who spent 21 seasons with the Hawks as a player, assistant coach and front office executive before moving on to a successful business career as a supplier for McDonald's. "This team is fun to watch."
Koroll looked smooth on the ice for a guy with a painful hip. He was even giving skating lesson to the "The Hockey Show" host Carrie Millbank.
"The Winter Classic is such a great event for the Hawks and our city," said Koroll. "I love it here. I moved to Chicago when I graduated from college [University of Denver] and never left."