Bobby Hull: The Golden Jet
Bobby Hull“nicknamed The Golden Jet for his blond hair and his style of play”was the most feared goal scorer of the 60s and 70s and along with teammate Stan Mikita made the Chicago Blackhawks one of the NHLs true offensive juggernauts. He and Mikita were the first NHL players to use curved stick blades, which made his already wicked slapshot even more difficult to stop.
Hull was born and raised on a dairy farm near Belleville, Ontario. By his teenage years it was apparent that he was on a fast track to NHL stardom, and he joined the Chicago Blackhawks not long after his 18th birthday. He would finish second in the leagues rookie of the year balloting in his first season and within a couple of years would become one of the NHLs marquee superstars. By the third year in the league, he was already a fixture at the top of the goal and point scoring charts and would lead the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 1961.
In 1966, Hull broke a hallowed NHL scoring mark by becoming the first player to net more than 50 goals in a season. His 51st goal broke the record of 50 goals held by Montreal Canadien greats Bernie Boom Boom Geoffrion and Maurice Rocket Richard. Hull would go on to score 54 goals in the 1966 and would surpass that mark by scoring 58 in 1968.
In 1972, Hull signed a then unprecedented deal to jump to the upstart World Hockey Association (WHA). His compensation included a $1 million US signing bonus which all of the league’s owners contributed to realizing the significance of landing Hull in terms of publicity and credibility.
The NHL attempted to prevent Hulls jump to the WHA via litigation, but eventually he would join the Winnipeg Jets and resume his offensive dominance. On a line with Swedish superstars Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg called The Hot Line, he led the Jets to two league championship AVCO Cup victories. In 1977, he set a new professional hockey record with 77 goals in a season which surpassed Phil Espositos 1970-71 mark of 76 by a single goal.
Injuries and chronic knee trouble would finally spell the end to Hull’s career in the WHA’s final season of 1979-80. He would briefly attempt a comeback with the New York Rangers in 1981, but when he proved ineffective in preseason eventually retired for good.
Modern fans may be more familiar with Hulls third son, Brett Hull, who earned NHL superstar status in his own right. Like his dad, Hull was a prolific goal scorer with a scary slapshot and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.
Hull is now 70 years old and splits his time between the Toronto area and Chicago where he serves as a PR ambassador for the Blackhawks organization. He is expected to formally induct his son into the Hall of Fame at the ceremonies later this summer.