Chicago Black Hawks 2-3 Sesame Street (partially found footage of ice hockey game; 1975)

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Image of the game.

Status: Partially Found

On 21st December 1975, five players of the NHL team the Chicago Black Hawks (now Chicago Blackhawks) competed against a rather unique side: Sesame Street, at the Chicago Stadium. Despite the Black Hawk's generally successful 1975-76 season, they ultimately were unable to replicate their strong Smythe Division performances, being edged out 3-2 thanks to a late goal from Grover. Intended as an exhibition game held during the Black Hawks' Christmas party, it is known that the match was recorded as part of an ABC News broadcast.


The Chicago Black Hawks' 1975-76 season was generally successful, at least within the Smythe Division.[1][2] They won 32 games, lost 30 and tied 18, topping the table with 82 points, one point ahead of the Vancouver Canucks.[2][1] However, their campaign became unglued in the Stanley Cup playoffs, losing 4-0 in a series against eventual champions the Montreal Canadiens.[3][1][2] Meanwhile, Sesame Street was beginning its seventh season, which ran from 1st December 1975 to 28th May 1976 and was two months away from airing the infamous Episode 847.[4]

The unusual clash between an NHL team and the famous puppets occurred during the former's Christmas party held on 21st December 1975.[5][3] According to Black Hawks goaltender Tony Esposito, the team chanced upon the Sesame Street crew as the latter geared up for some holiday shows in Chicago.[5][3] Realising the good publicity and overall fun an encounter would create, a five-a-side exhibition game was scheduled at the Chicago Stadium.[5][3] The Black Hawks consisted of Esposito (35), Alain Daigle (17), Dale Tallon (19), Darcy Rota (18), and Ivan Boldirev (12).[3][1] Meanwhile, Sesame Street fielded Bert, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Ernie, and Grover.[6][7][3][5] Another contributing factor to the game's successful hosting is that the costumes likely originated from the touring Ice Follies shows, thus also giving the Sesame Street team some strong ice skaters of its own.[8] Also in attendance were Esposito's children, who naturally enjoyed the game between their father and their favourite characters; The Chicago Tribune, who took photos of the encounter; and ABC News, who filmed the match for a news report.[9][5]

The Game

For this high-stakes game, the Black Hawks retained their usual formation.[3][5][9] Sesame Street, who would seemingly be making their ice hockey debut, had Cookie Monster as goaltender; Grover (who ABC News' Greg Dobbs mistakenly refers to as Oscar the Grouch) as the centre player; Big Bird on the defence; and Bert and Ernie, unsurprisingly considering their history together, as the wingers.[3][6][9] Based on the available footage, Boldirev started the inaugural face-off against Grover, but his shot was wide of the Sesame Street goal.[10] Big Bird's attempt to clear the puck was intercepted by Daigle, who exchanged passes with Rota.[9][10] Rota's cross to Boldirev in the centre was expertly blocked by Bert, allowing Cookie Monster to safely contain the puck.[10] However, the goaltender accidentally confused the puck with one of his favourite treats, much to the amusement and slight annoyance of everyone else on the rink.[7]

Later on, Big Bird and Bert had an altercation with Esposito, which resulted in the latter accidentally redirecting the puck into his goal. However, the Black Hawks fought back with a strong play; a pass from Daigle beat Ernie and Grover and reached Boldirev, who exploited Bert's poor positioning to give Rota a one-on-one opportunity against Cookie Monster. Rota beat the blue Muppet, who proceeded to consume the puck once more.

It is known Gerry Pinder, Pat Stapleton, and Ray McCray also featured later in the encounter, whereas Sesame Street's line-up remained unchanged.[5][9] Big Bird in particular received praise for his remarkable agility and defensive might despite his large size.[3][7] However, his temperament did let him down somewhat, as a collision between him and Daigle in the second period triggered his second altercation of the game.[10][5] Nevertheless, he did manage to intercept Boldirev, before passing to Ernie to set up another challenge.[10][3] Thanks to Bert controversially blocking Esposito, Grover had an open goal-scoring opportunity, which he swiftly converted for 3-2.[11][6][3][10] This remained the final score for the remaining two minutes of the clash.[6][3]

Despite the disappointing result, Esposito fondly recalled the encounter during a March 2017 interview with, proving there was no long-lasting bitterness between the two sides.[5] The Black Hawks likely used this loss as motivation for their clash against the New York Islanders later that day.[5][3] While down 2-0 after two periods, the Black Hawks fought back strongly thanks to two goals apiece from John Marks and Rota, with Pit Martin making the final score 5-2 in the host's favour.[12][5][3]


This unusual encounter remains an obscure piece of both ice hockey and Sesame Street media.[13][11][3] The match's existence was first confirmed on 18th October 2011, when The Museum of Classic Chicago Television uploaded a few clips also containing the Sesame Street theme.[14] According to the museum, the footage aired during the Black Hawks' match against the Boston Bruins on 25th March 1976 broadcast on WFLD Channel 32.[14] It suggested the game was partially aired as some kind of commercial for the children's show.[14] Then, on 16th June 2015, a search of the Chicago Film Archives' Frank Koza Collection resulted in silent game footage being discovered, which attracted attention from the ice hockey and Sesame Street communities.[11][13] Again, it was unclear as to the game's purpose, with the Chicago Film Archives deeming it most likely came from an obscure Sesame Street advertisement.[11][13]

Esposito's March 2017 comments established the game was held during the Black Hawks' Christmas party.[5][3] A photo of player Dennis Hull alongside two children and Ernie was uploaded to Facebook by the official Chicago Blackhawks account on 7th January 2019.[15] On 5th May 2020, the Chicago Film Archives uploaded a 16mm reel of its original footage.[9] The first part initially consisted of commentary from ABC News' Greg Dobbs, with the second half showcasing the footage and its raw audio.[9] Alas, when combined with The Museum of Classic Chicago Television's clips, only around 90 seconds of game footage has been found and made publicly available. The whereabouts and survival status of the uncut tape currently remains unclear.



All currently available footage of the game.

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television's highlights of the game (7:25-7:55).

Chicago Film Archives providing silent footage of the game.

Chicago Film Archives providing HD footage from the game, with commentary from ABC News' Greg Dobbs.

See Also

Ice Hockey Media

Sesame Street Episodes


Specials and Other Sesame Street Media

The Muppets and Other Jim Henson Company Media


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hockey Reference detailing the results of the Chicago Black Hawks' 1975-76 season. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hockey Reference detailing the 1975-76 NHL season. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 The Sports Chief summarising the game and listing the Black Hawks players involved. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  4. ToughPigs summarising the seven season of Sesame Street. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 NHL summarising Esposito's memories of the game. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 WRKR summarising the game and noting it was Grover, not Oscar the Grouch, who scored the winning goal. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 NBC Sports Chicago summarising the actions of some of the Sesame Street players. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  8. Toronto Public Library providing a photo of Bert and Ernie at an Ice Follies show in January 1977. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 Chicago Film Archives detailing the 2:49 reel of the match within its archives. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 AV Club summarising the action and the final goal. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 CBS News reporting on the recovery of the available footage. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  12. Hockey Reference detailing the result of the Black Hawk's game against New York Islanders later that same day. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Uproxx summarising the footage and its possible purpose. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Facebook post from The Museum of Classic Chicago Television summarising the footage it recovered as part of a March 1976 WFLD Channel 32 broadcast. Retrieved 28th Sep '23
  15. Official Chicago Blackhawks Facebook account providing a photo of Hull and Ernie with two children. Retrieved 28th Sep '23