Bobby Hull scored 610 NHL goals, 303 goals in the World Hockey Association. His 58 goals in 1968-69 set a single-season NHL record. Hull had four 50-goal seasons in the NHL before anybody else had two.
Hull’s booming slap shot arguably remains hockey’s most memorable shot. It was once timed at 118 mph. He pioneered the curved stick.
Hull was larger than life, all blond hair, muscle, speed and power. His popularity was among the reasons the NHL felt confident expanding from six teams to 12 in 1967. (That expansion included the Pittsburgh Penguins.)
When Hull took a million-dollar signing bonus and jumped to the fledgling WHA in 1972, he gave the new league instant credibility. All hockey players made more money because of Hull’s risk. (The WHA merged into the NHL in 1979.)
Hull was one of hockey’s very few legit drawing cards ever. People bought tickets and turned on TV sets to watch Hull.
How many players are truly legendary in two cities? Hull was. That description applied in Chicago, his NHL home, and Winnipeg, where he played in the WHA.
I met and interviewed Hull on several occasions. He was always gracious and charming. His charisma filled up any room.
Hull was flawed, certainly. Those stories are out there. But few did more for hockey.
Hull passed away Monday. He was 84. I was fortunate to see him play. I was always excited and entertained.
Bobby Hull, RIP.
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