2012 Blackhawks Convention – Day 2 Recap

Blackhawks Convention LogoOn Day 1 of the Convention (recap here), I scored autographs of Marcus Kruger and new ‘Hawk Sheldon Brookbank. On Day 2, my plan was to get many more autographs.

Saturday is the longest day of the Convention, starting at 9:00 AM and ending around 6:30 PM. This would be the day that most of the players in attendance would be signing autographs. But you don’t line up for an autograph–you line up for a wristband that gets you an autograph of a specified player later that day. Wristband distribution times were usually an hour or two before the player was signing.

Shellie and I got to the Convention at 8:35 AM. I wanted to get a wristband to get Brandon Bollig’s autograph.I had an uncut sheet of Rockford Icehogs (the ‘Hawks AHL team) trading cards, and it still needed Bollig’s autograph on it.

Much to my surprise, by 8:35 AM, all 315 wristbands for a Bollig autograph were gone. We’re talking about a guy with 0 points and 58 penalty minutes in 18 games for the Blackhawks last season.

Brandon Bollig
All the teenage girls wanted Brandon Bollig's autograph

My dealer friend gave me two VIP passes for a 9:00 AM autograph session. They announce who the VIP is 20 minutes before the session. It was Tony Esposito:

Tony EspositoI got my 1981-82 Topps Super Action card signed by Tony-O, while Shellie got a stick blade autographed for our dealer friend.

John MarksShellie got me John Marks’ autograph while I went and got a wristband for Dave Manson. Once she was done getting Marks’ signature, she also got a wristband for Manson.

Back in the day, I never had the opportunity to get Dave Manson’s signature. So, I was excited to get two things signed by him.

Dave MansonI got my 1989-90 Chicago Blackhawks Team Photo Album signed by Dave Manson (the Keith Brown signature is from 1989).

Dave MansonShellie got Manson’s 1989-90 O-Pee-Chee rookie card autographed.

An embarrassing conversation transpired between myself and Manson. Manson greeted me in a raspy, whispery voice. I asked him if he was feeling sick.

“I have a paralyzed vocal chord,” Manson said.

“Oh, when did that happen?” I asked.

“From a fight in 1990,” he replied.

Wow, I had no idea. Like I said, I never met Manson or heard him talk before. Unfortunately, Shellie had nearly the same conversation with him 30 seconds later when it was her turn.

I then went and waited in line for Michel Goulet.

Michel Goulet“Hey, that’s my rookie card!” said Goulet. “Very cool, what is this worth, five bucks?” he asked while signing my card.

“Well, now it’s priceless to me,” I replied.

Goulet got a laugh out of that one. He seemed like a very cool, very personable guy. Like the kind of guy you’d just want to hear talk about his career over a beer.

Eric NesterenkoAb McDonaldMeanwhile, Shellie got autographs from Eric Nesterenko and Ab McDonald. One good thing they started doing at the Blackhawks Convention is putting two players from the same era at the same table. The wait time is only a little longer than if it was for one person, but it is even more worthwhile because you are waiting for two signatures instead of one.

At the same time, I was waiting in line for Stu Grimson. I got an 8″ x 10″ autographed by the former NHL heavyweight enforcer. I’ve had this photo since 1995, so it was neat to finally have a chance (17 years later) to get it signed. Grimson commented on the picture, saying it is one that he had never seen before.

Stu GrimsonI then showed Grimson this picture of myself and him that was taken in 1990 at the Skate With The Hawks charity event.

Stu Grimson & Sal Barry
Stu Grimson & me in 1990. I was short back then, so I'm probably standing on a chair.

Grimson smiled. “Wow!” That’s a great picture of YOU.”

“It’s a pretty good picture of you too,” I replied.

“Nah,” Grimson disagreed. “You still look good, but I look old now.”

Next, I went to see if I could get a card signed by Jamal Mayers, but they had given out all 315 wristbands for him rather quickly. The whole weekend was like that–the bit players (and minor leaguers) had more people seeking autographs than guys from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. That suited me just fine.

Cliff KorollDennis HullSo I went to the line for Dennis Hull and Cliff Koroll. The two had already started signing, but there were still plenty of wristbands left. I got in line and got two cards signed.

Dennis Hull is always friendly. “Hey, thanks for waiting in line,” he said. “It must be a pain in the ass to wait in line.”

I assured Hull that it was well worth the wait, and thanked him for his signature. Koroll is always a cheery fellow, but I couldn’t think of anything to say to him other than thanking him.

Meanwhile, Shellie waited a long time to get an autograph from Bryan Bickell.Bickell works with a pit bull rescue organization called Chicago Loves Pits. Shellie created some silk screened patches about pit bulls that she really wanted to give to him. So it was less about getting an autograph and more about giving him some of these handmade art patches.

Pits are Pets

At first I was going to ask her to get a card signed for me. But Bickell has always signed my TTM requests, so I thought it would be wise to get something bigger than a card autographed. Since we did not have my Aunt’s pet pit bull with us to get autographed (j/k), Shellie got an 8″ x 10″ photo signed by Bickell and gave him her artwork.

Bryan Bickell

At this point,  Shellie informed me that there were still wristbands for Stu Grimson. I hurried to try and get another autograph from him, but by the time I got back to his line, he was gone. I guess he left after a few minutes of no activity.

I met up with Sean (another blogger) and we waited in line for Steve Larmer‘s autograph.

Steve LarmerI got Steve Ludzik rookie card signed by Steve Larmer. Even though the card says Steve Ludzik, it picture Larmer, whereas Larmer’s rookie card pictures Ludzik. (More about that here).

Shellie went and got me autographs from Eric Daze and Steve Poapst.

Eric DazeSteve PoapstThe line for these two guys was really short, so after getting Larmer’s signature, I was able to get a wristband for Daze and Poapst and get two more things signed:

Eric DazeSteve PoapstBetween Shellie and I, we ended up getting 17 autographs. Not bad for a day’s work.

Biggest Surprise of Saturday: Andrew Shaw

Andrew ShawAndrew Shaw has become some sort of cult hero in Chicago–especially among teenage girls. A longtime hockey fan told me that this felt more like a Twilight convention than a Blackhawks Convention, with all the teenage girls and mobs of people waiting for autographs from Shaw, Bollig, and the other Icehogs in attendance.

People started camping out for a wristband for Shaw at 11 AM–and wristband distribution for Shaw didn’t start until 4 PM!  “Must have been those 12 goals he scored last year,” I jokingly said to fans in the various lines I waited for that day. To me, I’d much rather have autographs from Larmer, Goulet, Daze, Poapst, Grimson, Koroll and Dennis Hull than a relatively unproven player like Shaw.

My best purchase on Saturday: Bobby Hull Autographs

Bobby HullBobby HullUsing the $20 I got for, ahem, unloading that Patrick Sharp autograph ticket on Friday, I purchased two cards autographed by Bobby Hull. I bought them from a reputable dealer who I’ve dealt with numerous times before. Each card was $10. I am happier with these than with the photo I would have gotten signed by Sharp, so it all worked out in the end.

Tomorrow, I will post my recap of Day 3.


Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

3 thoughts on “2012 Blackhawks Convention – Day 2 Recap”

  1. Ouch, sorry to hear about the Mason oops. I always think of his voice when I hear his name. Almost makes him even tougher than he already is. Glad you had a chance to chat with him, I would love that chance some day. He is one of my favourite fighters of all-time.

  2. Manson, got hurt after he left the Hawks, when he was with EDM, supposedly got punched by Sergio Momesso (Van). For the rest of his career his voice was never the same, including when he came back to the Hawks for his second tour of duty.

    I got a chance to get a puck signed by him at a Hawk game this year. It was a big thrill, I’ll always remember Manson for that fight with Stevens (St. Patrick’s Day Massacre) at the Stadium, but he had so many tussles with so many NHL heavyweights. I also, remember when Keenan dealt him to EDM for Steve Smith.

    That Grimson photo against Buffalo is sharp. It looks like Grant Ledyard (Sabre D-man) in the background.

    1. I remember that fight between Stevens and Manson!

      Although I was not at the game, I watched it on satellite dish–it was either St. Louis’s broadcast, or it might have been a SportsChannel America broadcast. That was a hell of a game, and that fight at center ice between Manson and Stevens was awesome.

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