The hockey world is in grief following the death of Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, who passed away at age 84. The Canadian player, known as the “Golden Jet” for his blond hair and speed on the ice, was a legendary figure in the sport and helped lead the Chicago Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup championship in 1961.
Hull’s Impact on the Chicago Blackhawks
Bobby Hull’s impact on the Chicago Blackhawks cannot be overstated. The electric left-winger helped bring the franchise back to prominence after missing the playoffs in 11 out of the previous 12 seasons. His 604 goals during his 15-season tenure in Chicago remain a franchise record. Along with teammate Stan Mikita, Hull also popularized the curved hockey stick blade, which changed how shots were taken and added more velocity to the puck.
Bobby Hull’s achievements in the NHL are numerous. He was a five-time 50-goal scorer and led the league in goal-scoring seven times. He twice won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player and was a first-team all-star on the left wing ten times. The NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, referred to Hull as “one of the most prolific goal-scorers in all hockey.” Hull was a formidable opponent to stop when he was on the ice with the puck. He had blazing speed, a hard slapshot, and confidence in spades.
In 1972, Bobby Hull made history by signing the first $1 million Contract in hockey history to play for the Winnipeg Jets in the upstart World Hockey Association. Unfortunately, his move to the new league cost him the opportunity to play for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, as the NHL blocked his participation. Despite missing the series, Hull went on to have a successful career in the World Hockey Association, scoring 303 goals in seven seasons with the Winnipeg Jets.
Despite his illustrious career on the ice, Bobby Hull faced legal and personal issues in his private life. In 1986, he was convicted of assaulting a police officer who intervened in a dispute with his then-wife Deborah. He was also accused of battery, but the charges were dropped after Deborah declined to testify against her husband. In 2002, his second wife, Joanne, accused him of abuse in an interview with ESPN. Additionally, a Russian newspaper reported in 1998 that Hull had made comments in support of Adolf Hitler, which he vehemently denied and called “false and defamatory.”
The Hockey Hall of Fame and Legacy
Despite these controversies, Bobby Hull’s impact on hockey cannot be ignored. He was invited into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, and his number 9 sweater was retired by the Blackhawks that same year. After a period of estrangement from the team, he was named a Blackhawks ambassador in a ceremony with former teammate Stan Mikita in 2008. Hull and Mikita have adjacent statues outside the United Center in Chicago, which testify to their impact on the sport.
Bobby Hull’s death marks the end of an era for hockey. He was one of the greatest Blackhawks players of all time and a beloved member of the Blackhawks family. Generations of Chicagoans were entertained and inspired by his shooting prowess, skating skill, and overall team leadership. Although he faced legal and personal issues in his life, his impact on the sport of hockey will always be remembered. Rest in peace, Bobby Hull.