Bobby Hull

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Bobby Hull
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1983
Bobby Hull Chex card.jpg
Born (1939-01-03) January 3, 1939 (age 81)
Pointe Anne, ON, CAN
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 191 lb (87 kg; 13 st 9 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for NHL
 Chicago Blackhawks
 Winnipeg Jets
 Hartford Whalers
 Winnipeg Jets
National team  Canada
Playing career 1957–1980

Robert Marvin Hull, OC (born January 3, 1939) is a Canadian former ice hockey player who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. His blonde hair, end to end rushes, his incredible speed on skates, and being able to shoot the puck at very high velocity, all earned him the nickname "The Golden Jet". His talents were such that often one or two opposing players were assigned just to shadow him—a tribute to his explosiveness.

In his 23 years in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association, Hull played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, and Hartford Whalers. He won the Hart Memorial Trophy twice and the Art Ross Trophy three times, and he helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961 as well as leading the WHA's Winnipeg Jets to Avco Cup championships in 1976, 1978, and 1979. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.[1]


Early life

Hull was born in Pointe Anne (now part of Belleville), Ontario. He played his minor hockey in Belleville, and then Jr. "B" hockey for the Woodstock Warriors in the fall of 1954. Although the Sarnia Legionnaires and the Waterloo Siskins were the Jr. "B" powerhouses of the 1950s, Hull threw a wrench into their domination, leading the Warriors to the 1955 Sutherland Cup as all-Ontario champions. Later, he played for the Galt Black Hawks and the St. Catharines Teepees in the Ontario Hockey Association, before joining the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957 at the age of 18.

Playing career

NHL career

Hull quickly blossomed into a star, finishing second in the rookie of the year balloting his first season. Hull originally wore numbers 16 and 7 as a Blackhawk but later switched to his famous number 9, a tribute to his childhood idol Gordie Howe. By his third season, he led the league in goal- and point-scoring. He went on to lead the Chicago Black Hawks to the Stanley Cup in 1961—their third overall and first in 23 years.

On March 12, 1966, he became the first NHL player to score more than 50 goals in a season, surpassing Maurice Richard's and Bernie Geoffrion's hallowed mark of 50 goals. His 51st goal against the New York Rangers earned him a seven-minute standing ovation from the Chicago Stadium faithful. Hull eventually scored 54 goals that season, the highest single season total of the Original Six era. He led the league in goal scoring seven times during the 1960s. Despite Hull breaking his own record by four goals in 1968–69, the Hawks missed the playoffs for the first time since his rookie season. By his final NHL season, he had scored 50 goals or more a remarkable five times. This was only one time less than all other players in NHL history combined up until that point in time.

His slapshot was once clocked at 118.3 mph (190.5 km/h) and he could skate 29.7 mph (47.8 km/h).[2] During his drive to be the first to eclipse the 50 goal mark, Hull's wrist shot was claimed to be harder than his slapshot.[3]

WHA career

Long unhappy because of his relatively poor salary in the period when he was hockey's preeminent superstar, Hull responded to overtures from the upstart World Hockey Association's Winnipeg Jets in 1972 by jesting that he would jump to them for a million dollars, a sum then considered absurd. Gathering the other league owners together to contribute to the unprecedented amount on the grounds that inking such a major star gave instant credibility to the new rival league that was competing directly against the entrenched NHL, Jets' owner Ben Hatskin agreed to the sum, and signed Hull as a player/coach for a contract worth $1.75 million over 10 years plus a $1 million signing bonus. Although his debut with Winnipeg was held up in litigation by the NHL, Hull instantly became the WHA's greatest star, and with Swedish linemates Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson formed one of the most formidable forward lines of the 1970s (known as "The Hot Line"), leading the Jets to two AVCO Cups during his time with the club. His best performance was during the 1974-75 season, when he scored 77 goals to set a new professional mark.

Because he joined the rival league, Hull was not allowed to represent Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series, which pitted Canada's top NHL players against the USSR's national team. Two years later, a second Summit Series was played and Hull joined many WHA stars (including Gordie Howe, who had been retired from the NHL at the time of the initial Summit Series) in a second series against the Soviet national team. The WHA lost the series four games to one (three ending in a tie), despite Hull's seven goals. He was a key member of the Canadian squad that won the 1976 Canada Cup, though, scoring five goals in seven games.

Bobby Hull rule

Hull and teammate Stan Mikita were catalysts for a 1960s craze where players curved the blades of their hockey sticks, which became widely referred to as "banana blades".[4] Hull is the player typically linked most to the rule that banned this practice because of the potential danger to goalies, who did not wear masks in that era.[4] The curved blade made the puck's trajectory unpredictable. The rule originally limited the blade curvature to between one-half and three quarters of an inch; in 1970, it was set at one-half-inch.[4]


Hull in 2006

Slowed by injuries and age, Hull played only a few games in the WHA's final season of 1979. However, after the 1979 merger of the two leagues (including the Jets) and reportedly in financial straits, Hull came out of retirement to play once more for the NHL Jets. He played in eighteen games before being traded to the Hartford Whalers for future considerations, and played effectively in nine games and three playoff games before retiring once more to care for his partner who had been injured in an automobile accident.[5]

In September 1981, Hull attempted one final comeback with the New York Rangers at age 42. However, it was a very brief attempt that only lasted five exhibition games before Hull and the Rangers both decided it was best to end the comeback. Hull had one goal, and one assist in those five games. It was the second time in Hull's career that he had played exhibition games with the Rangers; in 1959, after missing the playoffs the previous spring, the Rangers and the Boston Bruins had been sent on an exhibition tour of Europe, and then-emerging star Hull and Eddie Shack were added to the Rangers' roster for the tour. Hull and Shack co-led the Rangers in scoring, each netting 14 goals over the 23-game tour.[6]

Hull ended his career having played in 1063 NHL games, accumulating 610 goals, 560 assists, 1170 points, 640 penalty minutes, three Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Memorial Trophies, a Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, a Stanley Cup Championship and adding 102 penalty minutes, 62 goals and 67 assists for 129 points in 119 playoff games. He played in 411 WHA games, scoring 303 goals, 335 assists and 638 points, adding 43 goals and 37 assists in 60 playoff games.

In 1978, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Beside his Hall of Fame induction, Hull's No. 9 jersey has been retired both by the Blackhawks and the Jets (and is still honored by the Jets' successor team, the Phoenix Coyotes. When Bobby's son Brett Hull joined the Coyotes, they unretired the number for Brett to wear during his brief stint there to honor his father.) Evander Kane, who wore number 9 for the current Winnipeg Jets franchise, sought and received Hull's permission to wear the number.

In 1998, Hull got involved in a controversy with the Russian media when he allegedly made pro-Nazi comments. According to the Associated Press he was quoted as saying, "Hitler, for example, had some good ideas. He just went a little bit too far."[7] He later claimed the interviewer misunderstood him in the translation. The incident was satirized by the Canadian mock news show This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Host Rick Mercer read a spot saying Hull has been misquoted, that he had actually said, "Sittler had some good ideas." The reference was to former National Hockey League star Darryl Sittler.

In 2003, he was named the figurehead commissioner of a new World Hockey Association, intended to operate during the NHL lockout in 2004–05; it never entered play, and the organization subsequently ran several ephemeral low-minor league and unsanctioned Tier II junior leagues. He currently serves as an ambassador for the Blackhawks' organization.

Hull family

Hull's younger brother Dennis (nicknamed "the Silver Jet") starred alongside him with the Chicago Black Hawks for eight seasons, scoring over 300 goals in his own right. Some commentators often wondered which brother had the harder shot. When Bobby was excluded from the 1972 Summit Series because he played in the WHA, Dennis initially planned to boycott the event as well as a show of support for his brother, but Bobby persuaded him to stay on Team Canada.

Hull's third youngest son, Brett Hull (the "Golden Brett"), was a more glittering star yet, finishing his own illustrious career with the third-highest goal total in NHL history. Bobby and Brett are the only father-and-son tandem to achieve the marks of more than 50 goals in a NHL season and more than 600 NHL goals. They are also the only father-and-son tandem to win the Hart Trophy and Lady Byng Trophy. While playing for the Phoenix Coyotes (formerly the Winnipeg Jets) in 2005, Brett donned his father's retired No. 9 for the last five games of his career.

Hull's other sons were Bobby Jr., Blake, and Bart. Bart Hull was a standout running back for the Boise State University Broncos football team in the late eighties and 1990, and played with the Ottawa Rough Riders and Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL as well as one season of professional indoor football prior to recurring injuries. Post football, he briefly played professional hockey with the Idaho Steelheads.

Bobby Jr. and Blake both played junior and senior hockey. Bobby won the Memorial Cup with the 1980 Cornwall Royals. Later, they played together for the Allan Cup-winning Brantford Mott's Clamatos of the OHA Senior A Hockey League (AAA Men's Amateur) in 1987. Bobby Jr. also possessed a powerful shot, but lacked the scoring touch of his father and brother Brett.

Hull's daughter, Michelle, was an accomplished figure skater, becoming British Columbia Pre-Novice Champion at the age of 11. After many knee injuries, she concentrated on her schooling and is now an attorney licensed in two states.

Hull was romantically involved with a woman named Claudia Allen. In 1980, Hull retired from the Hartford Whalers to take care of Allen, who was injured in a severe automobile accident. In July 1981 Allen gave birth to Hull's youngest daughter, Jessica. The couple never married and around 1983 the couple parted ways. Jessica graduated from Benedictine College with a degree in Elementary Education and currently resides in California.

Hull's marriage to Joanne McKay ended in divorce in 1980 after several abusive incidents. In 1986, he was accused by Deborah, his third wife, of assault and battery. She eventually dropped the charges.[8]

Awards and achievements

Career statistics

Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1954–55 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 6 0 0 0 0
1955–56 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 48 11 7 18 79 6 0 2 2 9
1956–57 St. Catharines Teepees OHA 52 33 28 61 95 13 8 8 16 24
1957–58 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 13 34 47 62
1958–59 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 18 32 50 50 6 1 1 2 2
1959–60 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 39 42 81 68 3 1 0 1 2
1960–61 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 67 31 25 56 43 12 4 10 14 4
1961–62 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 50 34 84 35 12 8 6 14 12
1962–63 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 65 31 31 62 27 5 8 2 10 4
1963–64 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 70 43 44 87 50 7 2 5 7 2
1964–65 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 61 39 32 71 32 14 10 7 17 27
1965–66 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 65 54 43 97 70 6 2 2 4 10
1966–67 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 66 52 28 80 52 6 4 2 6 0
1967–68 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 71 44 31 75 39 11 4 6 10 15
1968–69 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 74 58 49 107 48
1969–70 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 61 38 29 67 8 8 3 8 11 2
1970–71 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 78 44 52 96 32 18 11 14 25 16
1971–72 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 78 50 43 93 24 8 4 4 8 6
1972–73 Winnipeg Jets WHA 63 51 52 103 37 14 9 16 25 16
1973–74 Winnipeg Jets WHA 75 53 42 95 38 4 1 1 2 4
1974–75 Winnipeg Jets WHA 78 77 65 142 41
1975–76 Winnipeg Jets WHA 80 53 70 123 30 13 12 8 20 4
1976–77 Winnipeg Jets WHA 34 21 32 53 14 20 13 9 22 2
1977–78 Winnipeg Jets WHA 77 46 71 117 23 9 8 3 11 12
1978–79 Winnipeg Jets WHA 4 2 3 5 0
1979–80 Winnipeg Jets NHL 18 4 6 10 0
1979–80 Hartford Whalers NHL 9 2 5 7 0 3 0 0 0 0
NHL totals 1063 610 560 1170 640 119 62 67 129 102
WHA totals 411 303 335 638 183 60 43 37 80 38

Coaching record

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
Winnipeg Jets 1972–73 78 43 31 4 90 2nd in WHA West Lost in Finals Avco Cup
Winnipeg Jets 1973–74 78 34 39 5 73 4th in WHA West Lost in Semi-Finals
Winnipeg Jets 1974–75 13 4 9 0 (8) 3rd in WHA Canadian Resigned
Total 169 81 79 9

See also


  1. "Bobby Hull". Ontario Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 24 September 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Hawk on the Wing". Time magazine. Time Inc. March 1, 1968. Retrieved April 9, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. William Leggett (January 25, 1965). "In the boldest attack yet on hockey's seemingly – 01.25.65 – SI Vault". Retrieved 2011-03-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Wyshynski, Greg (August 19, 2010). "The 10 best player-inspired NHL rules changes". Yahoo! Sports.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Clarity, James (September 10, 1981). "Hull Shows Spirit in Ranger Tryout". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kreiser, John; Smith, Lou Friedman; foreword by Neil (1996). The New York Rangers : Broadway's longest-running hit. Champaign, IL: Sagamore Pub. p. 139. ISBN 1571670416.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Report: Hull says Hitler had some good ideas "High Beam Research", Associated Press (08–26–98). Retrieved on 10–12–08
  8. "ESPN Classic – Hull helped WHA into hockey family". Retrieved 2011-11-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "TIME Magazine Cover: Bobby Hull - Mar. 1, 1968". Time.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. WHA Hall of Fame Members
  12. "Bobby Hull". Retrieved 24 September 2014. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Moving moment for Hull and Mikita, Chicago Tribune

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Jean Béliveau
Winner of the Hart Trophy
1965, 1966
Succeeded by
Stan Mikita
Preceded by
Dickie Moore
Bernie Geoffrion
Stan Mikita
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
Succeeded by
Bernie Geoffrion
Gordie Howe
Stan Mikita
Preceded by
Jean Béliveau
Bernie Geoffrion
Gordie Howe
Norm Ullman
NHL Goal Leader
1966, 1967, 1968, 1969
Succeeded by
Bernie Geoffrion
Gordie Howe
Norm Ullman
Phil Esposito
Preceded by
Ken Wharram
Winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Succeeded by
Alex Delvecchio
Preceded by
Position created
Rudy Pilous
Head coach of the original Winnipeg Jets
Succeeded by
Rudy Pilous
Bobby Kromm
New creation Commissioner of the WHA
Office abolished