Bobby Hull, the NHL Hall of Famer who was the first to score more than 50 goals in a single season and is considered among the league’s all-time best left-wingers, died Monday, the NHL Alumni Association said. He was 84.
The Chicago Blackhawks — the Original Six team for which he played 15 seasons from 1957-72 — cited Hull’s “historic impact” on the club, tweeting, “The Golden Jet helped the Blackhawks win the 1961 Stanley Cup and delivered countless memories for our fans, whom he adored. Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership.”
Longtime NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said is a statement today: “When Bobby Hull wound up to take a slapshot, fans throughout the NHL rose to their feet in anticipation and opposing goaltenders braced themselves. During his prime, there was no more prolific goal-scorer in all of hockey.”
Hull joined the Blackhawks in the 1957-58 season and scored 30-plus goals twice before his record-tying 50-goal season in 1961-62, the year after he won the Cup with the club. He would break the NHL record for goals in a season with 54 in 1965-66 and got 52 the following year and a NHL-career-best 58 in 1968-69. He also scored 50 in 1971-72. Put into context, Hull had four 50-goal seasons before any other player got two.
But Hull would jump to the upstart World Hockey Association for the following season, inking a record 10-year, $2.7 million contract to play for its Winnipeg Jets. He continued to light up scoreboards for the next half-dozen seasons in Manitoba, posting an astounding 77 in 1974-75. The Jets merged into the NHL in 1979, and Hull played part of one more NHL season with the club before ending his career later that season with the Hartford Whalers.
He also was the Jets’ head coach while playing for the team in its first three NHL seasons and was its assistant coach in 1975-76.
He led the league in goals seven times — a record that stood until Alex Ovechkin broke it in 2018-19 — and finished his NHL career with 610 goals, still the 18th-most in league history. He added 303 in the WHA for a combined 913. He was named the NHL’s MVP in back-to-back seasons and won three Art Ross trophies, given to the player with the most points (combined goals and assists) in a single regular season.
A 10-time All-Star, he was named to the NHL’s 100th-anniversary list of its 100 Greatest Players in 2017, and a statue of Hull stands outside the United Center in Chicago. The Blackhawks retired his No. 9 jersey in 1983.
Hull was not eligible to play in the storied eight-game Summit Series between Canadian NHL players and the Soviet Union in 1972 because he already had singed with the WHA club.
Along with his storied hockey career, Hull was the father of Brett Hull, an NHL legend in his own right who had three consecutive 50-goal seasons including 86 in 1990-91, still the fifth-most in any NHL season. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 741 goals. The Hulls are the only father-son team to win the NHL MVP award.
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