NHL legend Bobby Hull has passed away aged 84.
Hull was a two-time Hart Trophy winner, Hockey Hall of Famer and legend of both the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets.
Affectionately called ‘Golden Jet’, both for his blonde hair and speed, he would begin his professional playing career as a forward with the Blackhawks in 1958. He’d gradually become part of the furniture.
He helped Blackhawks win the 1961 Stanley Cup alongside Stan Mikita and put an end to their over two-decade trophy drought.
In 15 seasons with Blackhawks, he’d become their franchise leader in goals, scoring 604 goals, 28 hat-tricks and racking up 1,153 points.
Following his team-mate Mikita’s 60s style choices, Hull would score the blade of his stick and he perfected an over 100 MPH ‘slapshot’ that struck fear in the hearts of many a defenceman or goalie on the receiving end.
In a statement from the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, he would recall how significant the slapshot became for Hull’s capabilities as a player and how the crowd reacted.
‘When Bobby Hull wound up to take a slapshot, fans throughout the NHL rose to their feet in anticipation and opposing goaltenders braced themselves.’
So prolific were his goal-scoring exploits, he would be honoured twice for it.
In back-to-back years, Hull would be awarded the Hart Memorial Trophy in the 1964-65 and 1965-66 seasons. For some context, that’s 39 goals in 1964 and 54 in 1965.
This would only be the start. He would later exceed those goal feats with another personal best of 58 in the 1986-69 season.
That would be broken further with his all-time biggest goal collection of 77 while playing with the Winnipeg Jets in the WHA.
A big deal
After almost two decades with the Blackhawks, Hull would seek pastures new back in his native Canada.
In 1972, Hull would sign one a $1.75 Million dollar contract to join the Winnipeg Jets as both a player and coach. It would go on to be one of the first $1 Million dollar contracts in the history of professional Ice Hockey.
That would also signal his departure from the NHL and into the WHA.
The 1970s would see a more mature and experienced Hull. He would help the Jets to win the WHA Avco Trophy twice during his tenure.
The first would be a 4 – 0 clobbering of the Houston Aeros in a best of seven back in 1976. The second would come in 1978 with another 4 – 0 victory over the New England Whalers.
In his seven seasons with Jets, he’d pick up a further two accolades, first the nickname ‘Golden Jet’ and second, the two back-to-back Gordie Howe trophies recognising him as MVP status in the 1972-73 and 1974-75 seasons.
Retire or not
It was a short-lived retirement for Hull. No sooner he announced his retirement from professional ice hockey after the 1978-79 season, he was signing back up when the WHA merged with the NHL.
He’d return for the 1979-80 season playing 18 games for the Jets before being traded to the Hartford Whalers.
Aged 40 years old, he’d conclude his Whalers career on nine games, scoring two goals and five assists.
He would finish his professional hockey career having played almost 1,500 games, over 900 goals and collecting over 1,700 points, that’s NHL and WHA combined.
Hall of Fame
Roughly three years after retiring, Hull would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His son Brett would also be inducted in 2009 after his own 19 season career.
Together, they’d become the first father and son Hockey Hall of Famers to be named in the 100 Greatest NHL Players of 2017.
2x Hart Trophy Memorial winner
2x WHA Avco Trophy winner
3x Art Ross Trophy winner
1x Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
10x appearances in NHL All-Star Team