This generation of Chicago Blackhawks fans has Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to define their fandom. They led the team to the promised land and gave this city three Stanley Cups in six years. It is not a matter of if they will have statues in front of the United Center, but rather when.
Long before Kane and Toews came to town, another dynamic duo became Blackhawks legends in Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. Now both teammates, immortalized in bronze on Madison St., have left us as Hull has died at the age of 84. according to the NHL Alumni Association.
Hull was born in Point Anne, Ontario, on Jan. 3, 1939. He joined the Blackhawks in 1957 at the age of 18. If finished second in Calder Trophy voting after scoring 13 goals and 47 points in his rookie season. Before the start of his third season, he switched to the now-retired No. 9, and his career took off. He scored a career-high 39 goals and 81 points.
“The Golden Jet,” a nickname earned because of his blonde hair and blazing speed, became one of the greatest players in league history. Goaltenders around the league feared his slapshot. He and Mikita perfected the art of curving their stick blade to make their shots unpredictable and even more dangerous.
Hull became the first player to score more than 50 goals during the 1965-66 season when he finished with 54 goals. He had five seasons of at least 50 goals during his time in Chicago. In 1972, he left for the upstart World Hockey Association (WHA) after a contract dispute with Blackhawks ownership. He led the Winnipeg Jets to WHA championships in 1976 and 1978 and scored 77 goals during the 1977-78 season. He returned to the NHL for nine games with the Hartford Whalers and his childhood idol Gordie Howe during the 1979-80 season.
The Blackhawks’ record book has Hull’s name on every page. His 604 goals are the most in franchise history. He also leads in even-strength goals (433), game-winning goals (98), and shots (4,539). Hull is third in points (1,153), fifth in assists (549), and sixth in games played (1,036).
After a long time away from the team, Hull returned as a Blackhawks ambassador. He held onto that role until early 2022, when the team decided to part ways with the controversial star, whose past included domestic abuse and rather disturbing thoughts on Adolf Hitler.
“When it comes to Bobby, specifically, we jointly agreed earlier this season that he will retire from any official team role,” the team said in a statement on Feb. 21, 2022.
There is no denying that Hull is one of the greatest hockey players ever to lace up a pair of skates. His numbers on the ice make him worthy of his statue in front of the United Center and his number hanging from the rafters. However, the off-ice issues leave behind a tarnished and complicated legacy.
Tune into YouTube for the CHGO Blackhawks live show on Monday at 2:30 for more on the life of Bobby Hull.