CHICAGO—It wasn't until decades later, after his son Brett won it all, that Bobby Hull finally got to drink out of a Stanley Cup.
At a golf event, not after a clincher. And his shoulders were so bad he couldn't lift it.
So as the Chicago Blackhawks closed in on their first championship in 49 years, Hull had some advice: "Take advantage of it now," he said. "You're so very close. You're right on the edge of it here."
Well, they got it. And Hull couldn't hold back.
Tears streamed down his face after Patrick Kane scored 4:10 into overtime, giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals and their first championship since Hull and Stan Mikita led the way in 1961.
"It is a new life for this dad," said Hull, who signed autographs while he watched at Harry Caray's Tavern on Navy Pier. "I only had one go at this in 1961 and here we are again 49 years later. And these kids have done it for us all. And we're to thank them."
Once estranged from the organization, he couldn't stop heaping praise on the players and management on a night when he had "mixed emotions."
"Mostly being so happy to be a part of it, but afraid that they weren't going to win," he said. "I had that fear, just like when I played. Each year, I was always afraid that when I came back, I wasn't going to be able to score goals."
The last time the Blackhawks won it all, he was sure more championships were coming. The Golden Jet was a "22-year-old snotty nosed kid" who didn't embrace the moment the way he should have.
"I should have really enjoyed and wallowed in it and drank champagne from it, even though there were babies that sat in it and peed and pooped in it," Hull said. "I should have been more a part of it."
At least he feels a part of this one.
It wasn't too long ago that the Blackhawks were seen as an out-of-touch organization that had alienated a once-loyal fan base under late owner Bill Wirtz. But now?
"It's like old home week," Mikita said.
It seems hard to believe that just a few years ago, losses were piling up. Most home games were not on TV. Crowds were dwindling. Legends such as Hull, Mikita and Tony Esposito were estranged from the organization, but everything started to change three years ago.
Bill Wirtz died and his son Rocky replaced him as chairman in October 2007, and it quickly became clear that the son's Blackhawks were nothing like the father's.
He started televising home games, moved longtime executive Bob Pulford out of hockey operations, and hired Cubs president John McDonough to fill a similar role with the Blackhawks, bringing his marketing touch and an encouraging nudge to reconnect with the past.
The Blackhawks rehired popular broadcaster Pat Foley and brought back Hull, Mikita and Esposito as club ambassadors. They did the same for Denis Savard only weeks after he was replaced as coach by
Joel Quenneville four games into last season, easing a messy situation.