The third and final day of the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks Convention was only four hours long, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 1 p.m. However, wristbands for the first group of players would be distributed at 8:30 a.m. There was an outside chance that I could get Bobby Hull’s autograph, as wristband distribution for “The Golden Jet” was at 9:30 a.m. However, fans had already started lining up for Hull — as early as 5 a.m.! Guessing that there were probably more than 315 fans in the line for Hull, I turned my attention elsewhere. Good thing I did, too.
Very few people were waiting to get an autograph for Bill White, so Shellie and I headed to his line first. I got my ‘Hawks History book signed by White.
I then went straight to the line for Ab McDonald, who added 14 — his jersey number with the Blackhawks — after his name.
Other than the line for Bobby Hull (which we did not get into), the Convention was not very crowded. I think a lot of fans went home early on Sunday, since thre were few panels and not many current guys signing autographs.
Seeing that there were still wristbands available, we headed to the line for former Blackhawks goaltender Murray Bannerman.
At this point, I was supposed to get in line for my third and final winning “scratch and win” autograph from another “mystery man.” The good news is that it was for Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. The bad news? Crawford was late. He was supposed to start signing at 10:30 a.m., but by 11:30 a.m. he hadn’t showed up yet.
So, we decided to get in the line for Keith Brown, who was signing autographs again on Sunday.
Brown noted one of the cards, which showed him with the Florida Panthers. I asked him who his defense partner was, and he told me that it was Geoff Smith. Brown seemed a bit nostalgic about that first year with the Panthers, stating that Roger Nielson was a great coach to play for, and that he was proud of the fact that the Panthers set a record for most wins by an expansion team in their first year. Brown also stated that he believes goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck should be in the Hall of Fame.
Corey Crawford finally showed up around 11:40 a.m. After getting autographs from Brown, I went and got another “raising the Cup” photo signed.
At this point, the Convention was pretty much over. However, several Rockford IceHogs players and ex-Blackhawk center Troy Murray were holding an instructional clinic. I figured that perhaps Murray would be willing to sign autographs after the clinic was over.
When the clinic concluded, Murray announced: “Unfortunately, we won’t be able to sign any autographs now, because I got in trouble for signing three.” He motioned to a few people in the front of the crowd who had gotten their pictures signed by him.
The crowd showed their disappointment: “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!”
“Well, okay,” Murray continued. “But don’t have me sign anything with Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews’ autograph on it, because it will bring down the value.”
Most fans then swarmed towards the IceHogs players. Shellie took my book and, being smaller than me, was able to wriggle her way to the front of the small mob and get my book signed.
Now, it was officially over. We headed back to the dealer room to tell my friends goodbye. Convention staff was trying to clear the room, since it was now 1:00 p.m. A pushy security guard kept putting his hands on me, trying to get me to leave.
As we were walking out of the hotel, I said to Shellie “Well, other than that pushy security guard putting his hands on me, that went as well as it could.”
“Hey,” Shellie replied. “That guy just signed an autograph for someone. Who is he?”
“I don’t know. I don’t recognize him.”
Then it dawned on me. If I don’t recognize the guy, it means that I never met him or got his autograph. I ran over to the table where the man was seated. It was Darcy Rota, a Blackhawks’ winger from the 1970s.
Rota signed my ‘Hawks book, giving me a total of 14 autographs for my book project.
He also signed all four of my hockey cards. .
I thanked Rota for his generosity.
Leaving the hotel, I turned to Shellie and said “NOW, the weekend really went as good as it could.” I wasn’t even mad about the stupid rent-a-cop anymore.
The Blackhawks Convention was a lot of fun for me because I like getting autographs. And I got plenty of those — partially through good luck, and partially through good planning.
But like previous years, I regret not going to some of the panel discussions. Maybe I will next year, right?
Autograph Count for Day 3:
- 5 photos from the ‘Hawks History book
- 8 hockey cards
- 2 8″ x 10″ photographs
- Total autographs for Sunday: 15 items
- Total for the weekend so far: 39 items