GRIFFITH | Meet Ivan Boldirev.
The retired 63-year-old has long since settled in Valparaiso. During his younger days, Boldirev played some hockey, which included 15 years in the NHL.
His most productive years were with the Blackhawks, where as a deft stick-handling center, he was the team's leading scorer for two seasons and was an NHL All-Star in 1977-78.
If Boldirev held such a distinction today, he might get mobbed worse than Elvis and have his dinner reservations placed ahead of Michael Jordan.
"That's one thing I never saw when I was playing ... all these people wearing Blackhawk jerseys," said Boldirev, who stood out as one of the few people not wearing a Blackhawks jersey or team-related apparel during an appearance Feb. 19 at Bridges' Scoreboard Restaurant and Sports Bar.
"Of course, we were never on TV back then ... or at least none of our home games were," Boldirev said. "The exposure has sure added to the team's popularity."
Winning helps, too. That Tuesday night, Boldirev and the fans in attendance watched the Blackhawks salvage an overtime victory after squandering a two-goal lead in the third period. The effort tied an NHL record for most consecutive team-point games to start a season. The Blackhawks would go on to break the record and then pad to it.
"I think they're going to do it; I really do," Boldirev said of a pending Stanley Cup championship. "This year they have excellent goal tending, their defense has been playing great, and those forwards (Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane) are outstanding."
Boldirev who born in Yugoslavia before his family moved to Ontario, Canada. He played in more than 1,000 NHL games while scoring 361 goals and 505 assists. He also had 13 goals and 20 assists in 48 playoff games.
Boldirev is a member of the Blackhawks Alumni Association, which often gets former Blackhawks back on the ice for alumni games for charity. Even though Boldirev is an active member, he doesn't lace up for the alumni games.
"I haven't played hockey for some time," he said. "About the only thing I play now is poker.
"I live a low-key life, though most of my neighbors know that I've played hockey," Boldirev said. "I like it out in Valparaiso. The winters are not as cold."