Former Blackhawks star Bobby Hull dies at 84

The Blackhawks and their fans lost one of the franchise’s greatest and most iconic players on Monday morning with the passing of legendary forward Bobby Hull.

The team’s all-time top scorer has died aged 84. No cause of death is yet known.

The controversial Hull, who owned a one-shot howitzer that allowed him to score 610 NHL goals, broke into the league in the 1957-58 season. He scored 30 or more goals for 13 consecutive seasons, then left for the World Hockey Association in 1972 when the Winnipeg Jets agreed to pay him $1 million.

Hull teamed up with good friend Stan Mikita and helped the Hawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961.

Hull also became the first player to score more than 50 goals in a season on March 12, 1966, and finished with 54 goals.

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

“When I took over the organization when my father passed away in 2007, one of my first priorities was to meet with Bobby to convince him to return as a team ambassador. His connection to our fans was special and irreplaceable.”


Bobby Hull, left, and Jack Evans of the Chicago Blackhawks are shown in the locker room with the Stanley Cup after Chicago won the NHL title by beating the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 in this April 16, 1961 photo, in Detroit.
– Photo of the associated press kit

Known as Golden Jet, the blonde-haired Hull was born on January 3, 1939, in Pointe Anne, Ontario. He befriended Mikita in the late 1940s and the two remained close until Mikita passed away in August 2018.

“I’ve known Bobby all my life and didn’t know him as a hockey player,” said Jane Mikita Gneiser, one of Stan’s four children. “We knew him as a friend of dad – which is probably a different perspective than most people. I mean, he was awesome. He was charismatic. He was charming and he was a loyal friend.

“You’d be really lucky to have that in your life if you could have a friend like that – and Bobby and my dad were buddies.”

Hull scored 604 goals for the Hawks and 6 when he returned to the NHL with Winnipeg and Hartford in 1979-80. Hull scored 303 times with the Jets in the WHA from 1972 to 1979.

Bobby’s son Brett also played in the NHL. Both won the Hart Trophy as league MVPs during their careers, becoming the first father-son duo to accomplish the feat.

Hull is still the Hawks’ franchise leader in regular season and playoff goals. His 1,153 points rank him second behind Mikita’s 1,467.

In 1961, the Hawks won the Stanley Cup by defeating the Detroit Red Wings in six games. Hull registered 2 goals and 5 assists in the series.

Ten years later, the Hawks were on the verge of winning another title when they took a 2-0 lead over Montreal in Game 7 of the Finals at Chicago Stadium. The Cup was 30 minutes away, but after Hull had a shot off the crossbar that would have made it 3-0, the Canadiens’ Jacques Lemaire fired a shot from center ice that eluded goaltender Tony Esposito.

“The puck dipped like a knuckleball and unfortunately Tony didn’t see it fall,” Mikita said in 2007. “I never blamed Tony for missing it because he put us in the final like most good goalkeepers do.

Henri Richard scored the next two goals to hand the cup to the Canadians against the stunned Hawks.

Bobby Hull on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 at the Palace Grill in Chicago.

Bobby Hull on Tuesday, March 15, 2022 at the Palace Grill in Chicago.
– John Dietz | Personal photographer

Hull retired his No. 9 jersey in 1983, but was virtually ignored by the Hawks for more than two decades.

Then, in 2010, Hull and Mikita were named Blackhawks ambassadors by Wirtz and then-president John McDonough.

Hull said he negotiated the terms and made sure Mikita received exactly the same compensation.

After agreeing to the deal, Hull called Mikita, who told him, “God, I should have let you negotiate for me my whole career!”

Bringing Hull and Mikita back into the fold – and later adding Tony Esposito and Denis Savard – helped heal the gaping wounds that existed for much of the fan base.

A major change came last season, however, when Hull was let go. Hull was informed of the decision by telephone.

“It’s the only time I’ve been fired from any job I’ve ever had,” Hull told the Daily Herald in an interview at Chicago’s Palace Grill. “It’s a little disappointing. I thought we ambassadors were doing a good job with the fans.”

Hull, who has had troubling off-ice incidents over the years, believes the Hawks made the decision to “cover up their shortcomings” in the wake of the Brad Aldrich sex abuse scandal.

“Maybe I was used as a scapegoat,” said Hull, who was convicted of assaulting a police officer who was trying to arrest him during a fight with his wife in 1986. brought up events that happened 50 years ago to cover up their flaws with this pedophile.”

Hull was accused of domestic abuse and also quoted by a Russian newspaper in 1998 as saying that Adolf Hitler “had some good ideas” and that the black community in the United States was growing too quickly. He vehemently denied the quotes in a statement published by the LA Times, saying he was “deeply offended” by the “misrepresentations”.

Hull did not want to broach the subject last year.

Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull on March 15, 2022 at the Palace Grill in Chicago.

Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull on March 15, 2022 at the Palace Grill in Chicago.
– John Dietz | Personal photographer

Hull was often at the Palace Grill signing photos, pucks and sticks as well as taking photos with the fans. He would sit at a table in the corner and strike up a conversation with anyone who wanted to talk about the good old days.

“He was always very personable and never turned down a fan for an autograph or a photo,” owner George Lemperis said. “And a very funny man. We laughed and laughed.”

Mikita Gneiser also remembers countless times Hull engaged with stunning fans young and old.

“He would stay until the last person in line got an autograph,” Mikita Gneiser said. “And he would engage and talk to them and tell them a quick little story. He was a professional. He was really good at it.

“He was great with the fans and that’s probably why he was so loved.”

As for his past transgressions, Hull understood that some might blame him for them.

But for those he entertained all those years ago, he knows he left an indelible mark.

“I think I made a name for myself while I was here as a player that a lot of these people over these 15 years can’t forget,” Hull said. “I entertained them royally for 15 years.

“Those who were upset are fine. They have their rights.

“But people who weren’t upset, if you asked them, you would have found out how much I meant to that group – teenagers or 20-somethings in the (1950s). They’re 75 or 80 now. .

“They would tell you what they thought.”

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