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Tony Esposito numbered among Blackhawks greats

Hanging in the rafters of 63-year-old Chicago Stadium are four retired Blackhawks numbers _ No. 1 (Glenn Hall), No. 9 (Bobby Hull), No. 21 (Stan Mikita, who lives part time in Pinellas County) and No. 35 (Tony Esposito).

Esposito, the Lightning director of hockey operations, played for Chicago for 15 seasons (1969-83). Esposito and Hall, both goaltenders, had their numbers retired in 1988.

"Yeah, it's nice to see the banner," Esposito said. "This is a great place."

What's his fondest memory of Chicago Stadium?

"It's hard to say. I played like 500 games," he said.

"But I do remember playing against the Montreal Canadiens. They were playing for the final playoff spot, and, in those days, they needed five goals to make it. It was the last game of the season, and they pulled their goalie for the third period.

"We ended up winning 9-2. It was a fun night."

Sweet home, Chicago

Several members of the Lightning have played for the Blackhawks: general manager Phil Esposito, center Adam Creighton and defensemen Marc Bergevin and Doug Crossman.

What's in a name?

Creighton has more than hockey on his mind. His wife is expecting their second child any day.

She is at home in Welland, Ontario, just over the border from Buffalo. She plans to have the baby in Buffalo so the child can have dual citizenship.

Since Creighton joined the Lightning Oct. 4, few officials know his wife's name.

"It's Eve," Tony Esposito joked to his brother. "Get it? Adam and Eve."

For the record, Creighton's wife is named Linda.

Rob "Radio" Ramage

Before Lightning radio play-by-play announcer Larry Hirsch could finish "He shoots ," defenseman Rob Ramage blurted out "Gooooooal."

"He was so into it," Hirsch said of Ramage, who did the color commentary for the Lightning radio network Saturday night when Tampa Bay played Minnesota.

The 33-year-old Ramage sat out the game because of a sore shoulder.

Hirsch didn't have a partner since analyst Ron Duguay did not make the trip and still is contemplating whether he wants the job. So Hirsch convinced Ramage to give it a try.

"He was great," Hirsch said. "He was intelligent and analytical. He was like a glove and fit right in."

Hirsch's next broadcast is Tuesday night against the Blues in St. Louis. He doesn't know who will be doing color yet. Ramage is expected to play.

"We'll have a contest," Hirsch said with a smile.

McRae's fan club

Minnesota gave 147 free tickets to friends and family of former North Star Basil McRae for Saturday night's game. The policy of NHL teams is to provide 50 tickets to opposing players.

_ CAMMY CLARK

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