Bobby Hull – The Golden Jet

He dominated two completely different skilled leagues for greater than twenty years. He gained three Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Memorial Trophies, two Avco Cups, a Lady Byng Trophy, and a Stanley Cup. He was an NHL first All-Star 10 instances and a World Hockey Association All-Star thrice.

He was Bobby Hull, “The Golden Jet,” and for sure, one of many best hockey gamers of all time.

Hull’s Beastly Black Hawks Career Spanned More Than a Decade

Hull joined the Chicago Black Hawks (sure, there was an area within the title on the time) at 18-years-outdated after two seasons with the Ontario Hockey Association’s St. Catharines Teepees.

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The platinum-blond haired left-winger shortly revitalized a failing franchise that had missed the playoffs in 11 out of their final 12 seasons and put the league on discover together with his explosive pace and scintillating shot, therefore his nickname. In 1959-60, he captured his first main award, placing up 81 factors and profitable the Art Ross Trophy.

Bobby Hull burst onto the scene and used his close to otherworldly pace and objective scoring capacity to dominate the NHL for greater than a decade. (THW Archives)

Within 4 seasons of his arrival, the perennial backside-feeding Black Hawks have been the league’s high canine. In 1961, they hoisted the Stanley Cup after knocking off the Detroit Red Wings 4 video games to 2; Hull recorded 4 objectives and 10 assists in 12 playoff video games.

Hull’s first 50-objective marketing campaign — the primary of 5 — and his first Art Ross got here in 1961-62. In 1964-65, he gained the Hart for the second time and a Lady Byng because the Black Hawks reached the Cup Final once more, however have been bested by the Montreal Canadiens in seven video games.

Related: Chicago Blackhawks 50-Goal Scorers

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That similar 12 months, his youthful brother Dennis — aptly nicknamed “The Silver Jet” — joined the squad and the 2 have been teammates for eight campaigns.

Hull set historical past the next season and set a contemporary-day objective scoring document by lighting the lamp 54 instances the next season. He scored his record-setting 51st — surpassing the earlier document set by Maurice Richard, Bernie Geoffrion, and himself — on March 12 in entrance of 16,666 rabid Black Hawks followers at 5:34 of the third interval.

Hull ended the 12 months with 54 and one other Hart Trophy.

Bobby Hull
Hull scored 54 objectives in 1965-66, however his greatest statistical NHL season truly got here in 1968-69, when he scored a profession-excessive 58 objectives and added 49 assists for 107 factors. (THW Archives)

Hull continued placing up piles of factors by way of the remainder of the Nineteen Sixties and into the Seventies. He scored 50-plus objectives three extra instances and posted greater than a degree per sport in every of the six seasons between 1966-67 and 1971-72. He put up an eye fixed-popping 107 factors in 1968-69, 96 in 1970-71, and 93 in 1971-72.

The Golden Jet Becomes a Jet

By the top of the 1972 season, Hull was 33 years outdated and had recorded 604 objectives and 549 assists for 1,153 factors in 1,036 video games over 15 seasons.

Related: Blackhawks with 100-Point Seasons

However, he felt as a perennial famous person that he was underpaid. At the identical time, the upstart World Hockey Association — which hoped to instantly compete with the NHL and entice stars from the league by providing them greater bucks — appeared on the scene.

Hull had beforehand joked he’d bounce to a WHA workforce in the event that they gave him $1 million up entrance. Ben Hatskin, the proprietor of the Winnipeg Jets, was comfortable sufficient to do exactly that. In a dramatic press conference in front of thousands at the city’s iconic Portage and Main intersection, Hatstkin introduced Hull could be becoming a member of his new squad on a $2.75 million, 10 12 months contract. He even introduced the now-former NHLer with an enormous cheque representing a $1 million signing bonus.

This Day within the WHA
“Tell ’em if they give me $1 million up front they’ve got themselves a hockey player.”
46 years as we speak – Thousands of excited prepared-to-be Jets followers crowd Portage and Main to witness the signing of Bobby Hull
Winnipeg, 6/27/72 https://t.co/n9fCZG0gjC

The transfer gave the WHA on the spot credibility and Hull a brand new house to point out his nonetheless-very good abilities.

Hull Reached New Heights in WHA, Lit it Up on “Hot Line”

In the Jets’ inaugural season, Hull racked up 51 objectives and 52 assists for 103 factors in simply 63 video games. The Jets reached the Avco Cup Final however fell to the Hartford Whalers.

Just like he was within the NHL, Hull was one of many WHA’s most harmful forwards, and have become much more so upon the arrival of a pair of very good Swedes.

Between 1974-75 and 1977-78, Hull performed on “The Hot Line” alongside Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson. The terrific trio lit up their opposition evening after evening and amassed a mixed 573 objectives and 1,377 factors in simply 855 video games. Hedberg, Hull, and Nilsson every recorded a minimum of 100 factors a bit every season they have been collectively, aside from Hull in 1976-77, when he solely performed 34 video games as a result of harm.

Bobby Hull Winnipeg Jets
Despite being in his mid-thirties by the point he joined the Winnipeg Jets, Hull was one of many league’s greatest gamers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios through Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

Indeed, as well as his 103-level 1972-73 marketing campaign, Hull reached triple digits three different instances. He raked in 142 in 78 video games in 1974-75 (a median of 1.82 per contest!) 123 in 1975-76, and 117 in 1977-78. In each 1976 and 1978, Hull and the Jets captured Avco Cup Glory.

Hull Wound Things Down Back within the NHL

Prior to the 1978-79 season — the ultimate one previous to the WHA-NHL merger — Hedberg and Nilsson have been traded to the New York Rangers and there was a lot hypothesis concerning who Hull’s new line mates have been going to be. It turned out to be a moot level as Hull, then 40, performed solely 4 video games all season as a result of harm. Even sans Hull, the Jets gained their third Avco Cup, conquering the Edmonton Oilers in six video games.

Bobby Hull #9 of the Winnipeg Jets and Gordie Howe #9 of the Houston Aeros
Bobby Hull with Gordie Howe of the Houston Aeros in 1976. (Photo by Melchior DiGiacomo/Getty Images)

In 1980, Hull discovered himself again within the league he as soon as spurned, however his profession was winding down. He suited up for 18 video games and recorded 10 factors within the Jets’ first go-round as an NHL membership earlier than being traded to the Hartford Whalers and taking part in 9 common season and three playoff video games there.

In 1981, he tried to make a comeback with the New York Rangers and performed in 5 exhibition video games earlier than he and the membership mutually determined to finish the experiment.

Hull Will Be Hockey Royalty Forever, But Controversies Complicate His Legacy

Hull’s profession numbers are outrageous. By the time he hung up his skates, he’d recorded 610 objectives and 560 assists for 1,170 factors in 1,063 NHL video games and scoring 303 objectives and 335 assists for 638 factors in 411 WHA video games. He is 18th all-time in NHL objectives scored and second all-time in WHA objectives scored.

He is first all-time on the Blackhawks in objectives and second in factors to at the present time and can eternally be the main objective-scorer and factors-getter for the WHA Jets by a large margin.

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There’s no questioning the Hulls as a bona-fide hockey household, both. In addition to Dennis — a 5-time All-Star himself — Bobby’s son Brett grew to become arguably a much bigger star than his father, recording 741 objectives and 650 assists for 1,391 factors in a 19-12 months profession.

Related: Top 5 Father-Son Duos in NHL History

In 1978, Hull was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1983, the Blackhawks retired his #9; that very same 12 months, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2016-17, he was part of the Winnipeg Jets’ Hockey Hall of Fame’s inaugural class.

Hull died in Jan. 2023, at age 84. The NHL Alumni Association wrote “Hull was a driven player who always gave fans a memorable experience at every game and brought them to their feet. In his retirement, ‘The Golden Jet’ was never in a rush to sign every autograph as an ambassador for the Blackhawks, one of his favourite accomplishments.”

That is true, however controversies and fewer-than-savoury behaviours will eternally complicate his legacy. In 1998, he allegedly made some pro-Nazi and anti-Black feedback to a Moscow newspaper, which he denied.

Prior to that, his second marriage — to determine skater Joanne McKay — resulted in divorce due to a number of abusive incidents. Hull’s third spouse, Deborah, additionally accused him of assault and battery, though she later dropped the costs. In 1987, he pleaded guilty to assaulting a police officer responding to a home dispute between he and Deborah.

For these causes, some consider the NHL ought to distance itself from the previous star. The Blackhawks did put a long way between them in Feb. 2022, removing the team ambassador status he’d held since 2008.

Despite his troubles off the ice, Hull will all the time be remembered as one of many NHL’s most prolific and storied gamers. (THW Archives)

As imperfect as he was as an individual, what “The Golden Jet” did on the ice and as an envoy for hockey, typically, can’t be understated. However, to totally recognize his storied profession, it’s essential to separate the artwork from the artist.

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