Bobby Hull

By Lisa Welz

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In an unusual past-meets-the-present moment, Bobby Hull, one of the best Chicago Blackhawks players ever to grace the ice, and a current great, the Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, met this month in a move that had been anticipated more with each game.
No, they didn’t slap each other on the back or have a beer at the local hotspot. They met metaphorically when Kane tied Hull’s record of scoring in 21 consecutive games, and then blew right past him as he continued scoring in subsequent games, to his current 26 game streak.
According to Kevin Allen, writing for USA Today, “The next milestone in the streak for Kane, who plays against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday (Dec. 15), would be 30 games, which is what Mats Sundin reached in 1992 while playing for the Quebec Nordiques and is the fourth-longest streak in NHL history. Wayne Gretzky holds the NHL record with at least a point in 51 games in 1983-84.”
Hull, who earned the nickname “The Golden Jet” thanks to his blonde hair, good looks, the slap shot he perfected, and speed on the ice, was born in Canada in 1939, one of 11 children. He played minor and Jr. “B” hockey before joining the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957 at the age of 18.
It didn’t take long for him to be seen as a rising star, even as a rookie while he was acclimated to the new team and environment. He played as numbers 16 and 7 before settling on his to-be-famous number nine, a nod to his childhood idol, Gordie Howe.
The left wing may not have been a big guy, standing at 5’10”, but he made up for it with his impressive speed and swagger on the ice. “Hull had a remarkable physique with his muscular torso and powerful legs. His slap shot was a blur, often traveling more than 100 mph as he terrorized goaltenders with its speed and accuracy,” wrote Larry Schwartz for ESPN.com.
“Goalie Les Binkley was quoted by Charles Wilkins in “Hockey: The Illustrated History” as saying, “When the puck left his stick, it looked like a pea. Then as it picked up speed it looked smaller and smaller. Then you didn’t see it anymore.” Hull’s 39 goals won him the Art Ross Trophy for most goals in the 1959-60 season,” noted biography.com.
In addition to helping his team bring home the Stanley Cup in 1961, Hull has impressive stats, including: 913 career goals, 895 career assists, 1808 career points, was the first NHL player to score more than 50 goals in a season.
“Hull finished second in the Calder Trophy voting for the NHL’s top rookie in 1957-58 and quickly helped return a struggling Chicago franchise to prominence,” Biography.com added. “He topped the NHL with 39 goals and 81 assists in 1959-60, and the following season led the Black Hawks to the Stanley Cup championship (and was) renowned as part of Chicago’s ‘Million Dollar Line’ with Murray Balfour and Bill Hay. Hull tied the single-season record of 50 goals in 1961-62, and reached that plateau four more times over the next decade, with a high of 58 in 1968-69. He also won back-to-back Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player in 1966 and ’67, and was named a first-team NHL All-Star 10 times.”
Then came the day that Hull, due to years of arguments with Blackhawks’ management over salary, signed to be a player/coach with the Winnipeg Jets in the new World Hockey Association. The year was 1972. He went on to lead the team to three Avco Cup championships in addition to claiming two MVP awards.
In the 1979-80 season, Hull divided his time playing for the Jets and the Houston Whalers, retiring at the end of the season. A brief comeback was attempted in 1981 with the New York Rangers, but both sides decided, after five exhibition games, that it was best to end it. Two years later, in 1983, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and became the second player to have his number retired by the Chicago Blackhawks.
Hull has been married three times, with the last two women alleging abuse from Hull. He has a total of six children with the youngest, Jessica, from a relationship between his second and third marriages. His son, Brett, finished his career with the third highest goal total in the NHL and with his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, makes them the first father/son duo to be inducted. They are also the first father/son pair to both have 50 goals in a NHL season, more than 600 NHL goals. And are also the only father-and-son tandem to win the Hart Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy.
Hull summarized his career, saying, “It was the greatest time of my life. I’ve really never, ever had a job. I played hockey. And if you like what you’re doing, it’s not a job. And there were times in there when everything didn’t go my way, but no one ever said that life was all a bowl of cherries.”