Pierre Pilote was not like the stereotypical Canadian child. He was not born with the proverbial pair of ice skates on his feet. In fact, Pilote didn’t care to skate much at all. Rather, Pilote took a liking to another game – baseball. But the baseball season is not very long in Canada and by the time Pilote became a teenager, he thought he might as well try ice skating to pass the time. Then he decided to try skating with a stick in his hand and play a little hockey. It wasn’t too long before he discovered he was pretty good at the game and a short time later he was playing minor league hockey. While a late start affected his ability to break into the NHL in early-20s, by the time he was 24 he finally got his chance, and the Chicago Blackhawks were certainly thankful. Pilote went on to play defense for Chicago for 13 years and during that time he won the Norris Trophy three times, and helped the Blackhawks end years of playoff droughts. With Pilote in the lineup, Chicago played in the Stanley Cup Finals three times and won the Cup in 1961. Of course, Chicago had some other pretty good players too, a la, Bobby Hull and Glenn Hall, but you can trace the Blackhawks climb to the top of the hockey world beginning with Pierre Pilote. Joining Sports’ Forgotten Heroes for this conversation is the terrific author, Waxy Gregoire, who, with Pierre, wrote the book, “Heart of the Blackhawks,” an in-depth look at the resurrection of the Chicago Blackhawks and the career of Pierre Pilote.
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