Bobby Hull, a Hockey Legend with a Tarnished Reputation Off the Ice, Passes Away at 84


A grinning Bobby Hull holds up a puck in the locker room following a game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in '62. The puck Hull is holding is the one he launched past Ranger goalie Lorne Worsley, making Hull only the third person in the history of the NHL to score 50 goals in a season. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

Bobby Hull, one of the greatest hockey players of the 1960s and ’70s, has died at the age of 84.

If you were a hockey fan in the ’60s, you couldn’t keep your eyes off Chicago Blackhawks right-winger, Bobby Hull. Not only was he extraordinarily talented, but he was also built like a Greek god. Ruggedly handsome, his blond locks, gregarious personality and gap-tooth grin were perfect for the burgeoning television age.

Born in 1939 in the small eastern Ontario farming community of Point Anne, Hull broke into the NHL with the Blackhawks at 18 and immediately began terrorizing opposition goalies with his wicked shot. He regularly led the league in goals (he made history as the first NHL player to surpass the 50 goal mark in a season, and nabbed at least 50 five times) and helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 1961.

He was so big, fast and had such a wicked shot, sportswriters dubbed him “The Golden Jet.” Hull played in an era where sports writers glorified athletes, bestowing them with heroic nicknames and portraying them as noble role models who could do no wrong.

It was this formula that helped turn Hull into a household name in Canada and a much sought-after talent on the ice — he signed the first million-dollar contract with the Winnipeg Jets of fledgling World Hockey Association in 1972. He returned to the NHL at the end of his career, playing his final year with Gordie Howe on the Hartford Whalers.

In his later years, he became a fixture at card shows and alumni events and
enjoyed watching his son Brett become a star in the NHL.

When his career ended, however, he struggled with money and personal issues, broken marriages and estrangement from his children. Stories of his off-ice exploits began to emerge, many of them contradicting the all-Canadian farm boy image that the media had conjured.

In 2011, sportswriter Gare Joyce released The Devil and Bobby Hull, which painted a portrait of a tarnished superstar. Numerous media reports chronicled alcohol and domestic abuse, run-ins with the law and unfortunate comments supporting Hitler, which he made to a Russian newspaper in 1998.