Former Chicago Blackhawks winger Bobby Hull died at 84 on Monday, the NHL Alumni Association confirmed.
Hull is widely considered one of the greatest players in NHL history, winning the Hart Trophy twice, three scoring titles and is considered by some to be the greatest Blackhawks player ever. He broke into the league as a teenager but truly emerged in his third season, where he recorded 39 goals and 81 points during the 1959-60 campaign, before lifting the Stanley Cup the following season. Hull notched 610 goals and 1,170 points in 1,063 NHL games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.
Nicknamed “The Golden Jet,” Hull was known to shoot with tremendous velocity and helped popularize the slap shot. Some have incorrectly attributed the development of the slap shot to him, although it was invented by Eddie Martin of the Coloured Hockey League's Halifax Eureka in the early 1900s. He was also instrumental in the widespread adoption of curved stick blades — then referred to as "banana blades" — in the 1960s. In response, the NHL implement a rule — widely regarded as the Bobby Hull Rule — limiting the curvature of the blade due to the dangers it posed to goaltenders, who didn't all wear masks at the time.
Hull was an outsized figure in the hockey world and he contested the NHL’s hegemony over professional hockey, believing that he was underpaid relative to his stature in the league. As a result, Hull joined the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Winnipeg Jets for the 1972-73 season, while still in the latter stages of his prime. Hull played for the Jets until 1979-80, then returned to the NHL for a brief nine-game stint with the Hartford Whalers during the same season.
Off the ice, Hull was a more complex figure and an accurate biography cannot overlook his numerous transgressions. Hull told a Russian newspaper in 1998 that the Nazis were not without merit and that Adolf Hitler had good ideas. He openly said that he did not care if he was perceived to be a racist. Hull was accused by his wife, Joanne, and his third wife, Deborah, of domestic assault and battery. He was convicted of assaulting a police officer during an 1986 domestic dispute with Deborah. His daughter, Michelle, spoke openly in 2002 that Hull would become abusive when he drank and she became a lawyer for victims of domestic abuse in large part due to her father’s actions. Chicago dropped Hull as a team ambassador in February 2022.
Hull is the father of NHL legend Brett Hull, who went on to score 741 goals in the NHL. They are the only father-and-son combination to have both won the Hart Trophy.
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