March 26, 2023

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Bobby Hull has died. Bi-league legend, first to score 50 goals in a season and start to hook the stick

Sad news from Canada – The NHL Alumni Association has announced the death of Bobby Hull. In January 2023, the Toronto Hall of Famer just turned 84.

Hull is a Chicago legend: at the age of 18, he ended up in the Blackhawks, where he quickly earned the nickname The Golden Jet (“Golden Jet”), and four years later he led a team that did not always make the playoffs to the Cup Stanley. It was the only NHL title of his career – but insanely important for the city: Chicago has been waiting for this moment for 23 years.

Hull, considered one of the fastest players (45 km / h with the puck), became the main scorer of his generation – for seven seasons he became the leader in the number of goals in the championship. There was no prize like “Maurice Richard” then, but this did not stop him from picking up a lot of individual awards: three “Art Ross“, two “Hart”, even “Lady Bing” and “Lester Patrick Trophy”, and another 10 times to enter the first symbolic team of the season.

Bobby broke the league not only due to the speed of movement on the ice, but also due to the most powerful click – according to the data of that time, the speed of the throw reached 193 km / h. It’s hard to imagine how measurements were taken then, but Phil Esposito experienced a partner’s throw on his ass – he had to bleed with a needle from a bruise . At the same time, Hull had certain secrets: together with Stan Mikita, they were the first to bend the hooks of their clubs in the early 60s – the league even had to introduce the “Hull rule”, which limited the maximum bend. All in order to save the goalkeepers, many of whom then played without a mask.

The striker was the first in the history of the NHL to hit 50 goals in a season (and then repeated it 4 more times), and still remains the best scorer of Chicago – 604 goals. This record could be increased many times over, but in 1972, when Hull was 33, he moved to Winnipeg, becoming the face of another league – the World Hockey Association. It was Bobby who signed the first million dollar contract in the history of hockey (in general, an agreement for 10 years and 2.5 million, but in the first year there was another 1 million bonus) – this made him one of the highest paid players, but deprived him of the chance to play in the Super Series against the USSR team. Alan Eagleson, one of the organizers, refused to call the players from the WHA. Even the Prime Minister of Canada could not persuade him to take Hull to the matches against the Soviets.

He played against the strongest players in the USSR only at the next Super Series, in 1974, and even at the age of 35 he became its best sniper and scorer (7 + 2) – even though Canada from the WHA lost that battle. He also played against the Soviet team at the 1976 Canada Cup – he scored the winning goal in the decisive match of the group stage.

After that, Maple reached the final with the Czechoslovaks and won the tournament named after themselves. Already 37-year-old Hull scored 5 + 3 in 7 matches – only three players had more points.

Bobby managed to spend 7 seasons in Winnipeg before the NHL and the WHA merged – during this time he took the championship trophy (Avco World Trophy) twice, and became the championship MVP twice more. He announced the end of his career a year before the league merger, but returned during the 1979/80 NHL season: the 40-year-old forward played 18 games for Winnipeg, after which he was traded to Hartford in February, where Hull and played 12 final matches (3 – in the playoffs).

After he finished playing hockey, he went into animal husbandry – he, who grew up on a farm, was close to it from childhood. In 1981, he was almost lured by Herb Brooks to the Rangers, but 5 pre-season games (1 + 1) suggested that he needed to leave on time. But the name Hull continued to glorify his son – Brett, who entered the league in 1986, won everything in hockey except the Olympics, overtook his father in goals in the NHL, and in 2019 became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Hull Sr. was elected there much earlier – in 1983. In terms of the total number of goals in professional leagues (including the playoffs – 1018), he is second only to Gordie Howe (1071) and Wayne Gretzky (1109) in history.