Robert Marvin (Bobby) Hull was a hockey legend who played the professional game for 23 years in the National Hockey and the World Hockey Association.
Bobby was born in Port Anne, Ontario, on January 3, 1939, and recently died at the age of 84. His hockey career started in minor hockey for the Belleville Bees then moved up to the Ontario Junior B Woodstock Warriors in 1954. The Warriors won the league championship behind Hull in 1955. Bobby moved on to the Galt Black Hawks, then to the St. Catherine Teepees – all in the Ontario Hockey Association.
At 18 years old he was selected by the Chicago Black Hawks in 1957 as the start of his major league career, which spanned 23 years from 1957 to 1980. He led the league in scoring seven times, winning the Hart Memorial Trophy twice as the NHL MVP. He was the first player to score 50 goals in a season. The Black Hawks won three Stanley Cups with Hull as a first line winger. He was a First Team All-Star 10 times, and a Second Team star twice. He was also demonized for hateful words and unruly acts, including alleged domestic abuse, by his ex-wives.
He was forever railing against the Black Hawks, always feeling he was underpaid for his great achievements. For most of his career, the players only made slightly more than a blue-collar worker. He left Chicago for the new professional league – the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association (WHA) – receiving a salary of 1.75 million and, reportedly, a one million dollar bonus. Winnipeg was WHA Champions in 1976 and 78 with Hull driving the engine. Hull was the WHA MVP twice and later played for the Hartford Whalers.
After seven seasons the league folded, and Winnipeg along with Quebec, Edmonton and Hartford were accepted into the National Hockey League for the 1979 season. The NHL pretty much needed to disband the WHA because the new league was draining away the stars of the NHL with large salaries.
Hull scored 604 career goals for the Black Hawks during his tenure. The Black Hawks said, “He delivered countless memories to our fans, who he adored. Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership.”
Bobby Hull is listed as a member of the group of 100 players as an all-time all-star. In addition to awards listed previously, Bobby Hull was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 and received the Wayne Gretzky International Award in 2003. He was awarded the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer three times, the Lady Bing Memorial Trophy in 1965 for outstanding sportsmanship, and the Lester Patrick Memorial Trophy in 1969 as an honor to a recipient’s contributions to ice hockey.
He had his great moments on the ice and will always be remembered by fans of Chicago and of the NHL for decades.
(Editor’s Note: Bill Stewart, better known to Saugus Advocate readers as “The Old Sachem,” writes a weekly column about sports – and sometimes he opines on current or historical events or famous people.)