One of my “big goals” for this convention was to get as many retired players as possible to sign this book:
Chicago Blackhawks: A Sixty Year History 1926-1986 features a picture of almost every single player who was with the team during their first 60 years in the league. I’ve always wanted to get signatures in this book, but my copy was water damaged a long time ago, and I didn’t want to get autographs in a damaged book. But a week ago, I found another copy of the book for $3, and decided that I would try to get as many autographs as possible in this book — but just the players pictured within.
The first “wave” of wristbands was being dealt out at 8:30 a.m. I decided to get there early because I wanted to get my ‘Hawks book signed by two retired players: Grant Mulvey and Cliff Koroll.
When I showed up, the line for Brandon Bollig was crazy long, whereas the line to get autographs from Mulvey and Koroll (both were sitting at the same table) was maybe around 20 people.
I turned to an older gentleman in a Stan Mikita jersey and said: “You know what’s funny? In 20 years, THIS will be the line for Brandon Bollig.”
He laughed. A lot of older fans find it a bit ridiculous that people would rather get signatures from a guy who played 10 games in the NHL instead of a guy who played 10 years. Then again, I understand that kids want to get autographs from the players they see on TV, not the guys their parents (or even grandparents) tell them about.
Anyway, I got my book signed by Cliff Koroll…
For those of you who don’t know, after Mulvey retired, he started a company that released licensed “Action Player Patches” depicting NHL stars from the 1990s. I told him that I wrote an article about these patches and gave him a photocopy of it. He was pretty surprised — and happy — to know that someone actually wrote about the set he produced two decades ago.
While in the line for Koroll and Mulvey, I made some new friends from Missouri who traveled far to be here. Coincidentally, one of them — a nice teenage girl named Katie — was getting the same book signed as I was. She started her “book project” last year, and seems to have a respect for the history of the team that is lacked by many of her peers.
Katie and her mother Tammy knew that I wanted to get a card signed by Stu Grimson, but the line for former ‘Hawks goalie and TV analyst extraordinaire Darren Pang was starting to form. Katie and Tammy generously offered to get my Grimson card signed for me (since they only wanted one ‘graph from Stu), so that I could line up and get a wristband for Pang.
I then headed to a line for Andrew Shaw. He was signing autographs, but for hotel guests only. My dealer friends, Paul and Dianne, were selling at the show and had the pass to get Shaw’s autograph, but couldn’t get it themselves. I offered to wait in line for them, and got an 8″ x 10″ photo signed by Shaw. (not pictured, but you can use your imagination).
Shaw was in a great mood. He was laughing and joking around with fans, and giving high-fives to all the little kids that came up to him. I told him that I laughed pretty hard that he said the F-word on TV not once, but twice, and gave him a fist bump. Overall, a very cool guy.
After spending some time in the dealer room, I headed to the line for Darren Pang. While “Panger” was signing my book, I paid him a compliment. I told him that he had a positive influence on me while I was growing up. “Really?” he asked, smiling a little.
I explained to Pang that I remember when he sustained his first knee injury. While rehabbing his knee, he spent the 1989-90 season as the color commentator for the UIC Flames hockey team — a college hockey team that was based in Chicago. I told Pang that, as a kid, I was impressed that he was planning his next move. He knew that his NHL career wouldn’t last forever, and was working on Plan B, which paid off big for him. That inspired me, and throughout college and beyond, I always made sure that I had a back-up plan in case things don’t turn out as expected.
Pang then got a big grin on his face, thanked me for telling him this, and shook my hand.
Afterward, I headed over to get an autograph from former ‘Hawks winger Wayne Presley. He was currently signing, and not many wristbands were passed out for him, so I was able to get banded and right into line.
Presley signed my Blackhawks book. I asked him what he was up to, and he told me that he is living in Michigan and working for an IT company.
There were only a few people wanting Presley’s autograph — which suited me just fine. I got another wristband and went right back into his line.
“Hello again,” I said to Presley.
He greeted me back, and told me to pull out whatever else I wanted to get signed so that I wouldn’t have to keep coming back. So, I asked him to sign his photo in my 1989-90 Blackhawks Photo Album…
Shellie spent the morning with a friend, and joined me at the Convention around noon to help me get some autographs. One of my “scratch and win” cards was good for a “mystery” autograph at 12:30 p.m. The mystery man turned out to be Hall of Fame center Denis Savard.
While waiting in line for Savard’s autograph, a woman asked Shellie “are we getting [Brandon] Saad’s autograph?”
“No,” explained Shellie. “We are getting Denis Savard’s autograph.”
The woman let out a disappointing huff and told Shellie that she didn’t want Savard’s autograph. She gave Shellie her ticket, which enabled each of us to get something signed.
And I got another signature in my Blackhawks history book.
The next group of “scratch and win” winners were lining up for the “mystery man” scheduled to sign after Savard. When a convention worker announced that it would be Pierre Pilote, a Hall of Fame defenseman from the 1950s and 1960s, a bunch of people sighed and left the line.
Yes. That actually happened. Fans were so disappointed that their winning ticket was “only” for a Blackhawks legend that they left the line.
In all fairness, though, Pilote was signing throughout the show all weekend, raising money for charity. Anyone making a $20 donation could get Pilote’s signature on their items. So, perhaps some of these people were incensed that they paid for Pilote’s autograph earlier, then later found out that their winning ticket was good for a free autograph from him.
Shellie used this disappointment to our advantage, and got two tickets for Pilote’s autograph from attendees who did not want to bother getting an autograph from the ‘Hawks legend. So, I got yet another signature in my Blackhawks history book..
By this time it was around 3 p.m. I hadn’t eaten anything all day, and Shellie ate a light breakfast, so we were both pretty hungry. But she agreed to “soldier on” and get one more autograph before getting lunch. We both had wristbands for Steve Konroyd, a former defenseman who is now a studio analyst for the Chicago Blackhawks. And there was no way in hell I was going to miss my opportunity to finally get this item autographed…
NHL ’94 — the most awesome-est video game ever — was known as NHL Hockey when released for the PC. The box cover measures 8.5″ x 11″ — because computer game boxes were huge back then — and features Steve Konroyd as a member of the Hartford Whalers. I’ve wanted to get this game signed for four years, and finally had my chance to do so.
Konroyd was both surprised and very happy to see this game. I don’t think anyone has ever asked him to sign the game box before. Props to Shellie for really capturing the moment here.
Konroyd turned and explained to the attendant seated next to him to show her that he was actually on the cover of a video game — and a popular one, too. He also said that he was on the cover of the game for two years in a row, but I believe he might be thinking of the Windows version of this game, which came out the same year and used the same photo.
Whenever possible, I try to get a photo of a ‘Hawks player raising the Stanley Cup. Other pictures might be more interesting, but none are ever as iconic as a player hoisting the Cup after a long-fought series.
After getting an autograph from the Calder Trophy runner-up, we went and got autographs from the Calder Trophy winner from 1983, Steve Larmer.
Then I was able to get another book photo signed by Eric Nesterenko.There were plenty of wristbands for the longtime NHLer, as the newer fans were either waiting in line for Ben Smith, or to see the Stanley Cup.
Every time I get an autograph from Nesterenko, I just have to bring up the movie Youngblood. For those who don’t know, Youngblood is a hockey movie from 1986, and Eric Nesterenko played the main character’s dad.
“Wow, what a smile,” Nesterenko said about his picture while signing it.
“Yes,” I agreed. “That is a million-dollar smile. That is a Hollywood smile.” I mentioned “Hollywood” because I always have to find a way to bring up Youngblood when getting Nesterenko’s autograph.
“You know, I worked one summer in Hollywood,” said Nesterenko.
“Yes, you were in Youngblood.”
“You remember that film?” he asked.
“Heck yeah!” I exclaimed. “You being in that movie made it ten times cooler.”
It’s true. Youngblood may not ever win a popularity contest outside of hockey circles, but what die-hard ‘Hawks fan isn’t proud of the fact that Nesterenko, a ‘Hawk for 15 seasons, is in that film — and teaches the main character how to fight!
Our last stop of the day was the autograph line for former defenseman Keith Brown. The line for Brown was very short, with less than 20 people waiting for his autograph. Shellie and I were able to get wristbands for the line, then go right on in.
Brown really took his time when signing autographs. He talked to each fan, and obliged any photo request. I got Brown to sign my ‘Hawks History book — my 9th signature in that book.
Shellie — sensing that the “handler” seated next to Brown wouldn’t intervene — asked Brown to sign two cards (instead of just one). Brown was happy to oblige, while the attendant next to Brown didn’t even notice.
It was a long day, but I gained many autographs for my collection.
Autograph Count for Day 2:
- 9 photos from the ‘Hawks History book
- 7 hockey cards
- 2 pictures in the 1989-90 Blackhawks Photo Album
- 3 8″ x 10″ photographs (including the one I got for my friend)
- 1 video game box
- Total autographs for Saturday: 22 items
- Total for the weekend so far: 24 items