HomeSports‘The Golden Jet’ of Blackhawks, hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull died at 84

‘The Golden Jet’ of Blackhawks, hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull died at 84

‘The Golden Jet’ of Blackhawks, hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull died at 84

Bobby Hull, a Hall of Fame forward who helped the Chicago Blackhawks win the 1961 Stanley Cup Final, has died at 84.

Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull owned a big shot and he was a big shot during an NHL and World Hockey Association career that spanned 23 years.

“He was huge when I was growing up in Canada,” said former NHL player Tom Laidlaw. “He was like the Mickey Mantle of hockey. He was a star player with personality. He was flamboyant.”

Hull, who starred on the ice but had controversies off it, has died at age 84, the Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL Alumni Association announced Monday.

He became the first in NHL history to score more than 50 goals in a season when he netted 54 in 1965-66. He got to 50 or more goals in five seasons for the Blackhawks and led the NHL in goals seven times.

Hull had 31 goals and 25 assists in his fourth season to help lead Chicago to the Stanley Cup championship in 1960-61, the Blackhawks’ first in 49 years.

“Hull is part of an elite group of players who made a historic impact on our hockey club,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. “The Golden Jet helped the Blackhawks win the 1961 Stanley Cup and delivered countless memories to our fans, whom he adored.

“Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership that led to 604 career goals, a franchise record that remains to this day. We send our deepest sympathies to the Hull family.”

Many of Hull’s goals were scored on the strength of his strong skating and a booming slap shot that was made dangerous by the wickedly big curve he put on his stick.

“Guys weren’t using the size of the curve that Hull used in those days because at that time guys were still using their backhander to score goals,” said former NHL goalie Jim Rutherford, now president of the Vancouver Canucks. “With that big hook, it was hard to tell where the puck was going.”

“Bobby Hull will always be remembered as one of the greatest Blackhawks players of all time. He was a beloved member of the Blackhawks family,” team owner Rocky Wirtz said in a statement.

“When I assumed leadership of the organization upon my father’s passing in 2007, one of my first priorities was to meet with Bobby to convince him to come back as an ambassador of the team. His connection to our fans was special and irreplaceable.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement called Hull “a true superstar with a gregarious personality.”

“When Bobby Hull wound up to take a slapshot, fans throughout the NHL rose to their feet in anticipation and opposing goaltenders braced themselves,” Bettman said. “During his prime, there was no more prolific goal-scorer in all of hockey. … We send our deepest condolences to his son, fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Brett; the entire Hull family; and the countless fans around the hockey world who were fortunate enough to see him play or have since marveled at his exploits.”

Hull finished with 610 NHL goals, and he and his son Brett (741 goals) form the highest-scoring father-son tandem in NHL history. Both are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall, who played with and against the elder Hull, had said the wing’s shot was the hardest he ever saw.

Rutherford said, “He was at the level that guys are shooting at today, except he didn’t have the advantage of the modern sticks.”

Rutherford said Hull’s shots always reacted differently depending on how he struck them.

“Sometimes it would rise or drop or act like a knuckleball,” Rutherford said. “Sometimes it would curve. “

Hull also was known during his playing days for connecting with the fans. He always seemed to have time to sign autographs.

In a 2004 interview, Hull said when he was 10 he asked Gordie Howe for an autograph. Howe rubbed his head and signed the top of a cigarette package that the young Hull had gotten from his father. He said he always remembered Howe’s kindness.

“My mom used to say, ‘don’t forget that fans are the most important people in this business,'” Hull said.

Hull played 15 seasons with Chicago before jumping to the Winnipeg Jets to play in the World Hockey Association in 1972-73 for a 10 year, $1 million deal, which was a stunning amount at the time. In 1974-75, Hull, playing on a line with Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, scored 77 goals in 78 games for Winnipeg.

“The reaction when Hull left was that it was too bad for the NHL, but all of us knew he was breaking new ground,” Rutherford said. “We got higher salaries because of that.”

After the NHL annexed the WHA, Hull ended up playing another 27 games in the NHL in 1979-80 before retiring. He considered coming out of retirement with the New York Rangers in the early 1980s, and Laidlaw remembers what a big event it was when he came to New York to skate with the team.

“We all went out to get something to eat and I was like a little kid listening to Hull tell stories for hours,” Laidlaw said. “He had such a big personality.”

Hull also had several troubling episodes off the ice over the years.

According to the Associated Press, Hull was convicted of assaulting a police officer who intervened in a dispute with then-wife Deborah in 1986. He also was accused of battery, but that charge was dropped after Deborah told authorities she didn’t want to testify against her husband, a state attorney told the Chicago Tribune.

Hull’s second wife, Joanne, accused him of abuse during an interview with ESPN for a 2002 show.

A Russian newspaper reported in 1998 that Hull said Adolf Hitler “had some good ideas.” Hull denied making the comment, calling it “false and defamatory.”

Part of the article was reported by USA Today.