Bobby Hull’s hockey journey would lead him to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and like many stories of great Canadian hockey heroes it began modestly enough as he learned to skate on the frozen surface of the Bay of Quinte. From that frozen surface, he eventually realized his dream to join the NHL, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1957-58 season.
In the summer of 1959 Bobby went to Europe with the New York Rangers for an exhibition tour, scoring 50 goals in around 20 games. It was on the European tour Bobby realized he could dominate in the hockey world, and he came home to tell his father he was going to win the scoring title in the NHL that year. With the help of his teammates Bobby did indeed win the first of 3 Art Ross Trophy's as the NHL's leading scorer in the 1959-60 season.
In 1960-61 Bobby Hull and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup backstopped by future fellow Hall of Famer Glenn Hall in goal and Hall of Famers Stan Mikita, Pierre Pilote adding firepower on the ice.
The 1961-62 season saw Bobby score 50 goals, tying the NHL record held by Hall of Famers Maurice Richard and Bernie Geoffrion. It would be the first of five times in his NHL career he would score at least 50 goals. During the 1965-1966 season, Bobby would become the first player to exceed the 50 goal plateau. His 51st goal was scored at home in Chicago and earned him a standing ovation so long that Bobby has stated he got goose bumps, and wanted to find a crack in the ice to hide in. Bobby would finish the season with 54 goals and 97 points in total, both NHL records at the time. He would also win his second of 2 consecutive Hart Trophies. Bobby would go on to top both marks - in 1968-69 he netted a total of 58 goals and 107 points.
For 8 seasons in Chicago, Bobby had the pleasure of playing with his brother Dennis Hull, a 4 time NHL all star, as well as Hockey Hall of Fame member Tony Esposito who in 1969-70 set the modern NHL shutout record of 15 in a season.
In his playing style, Bobby was a powerful man who could drive to the net while often wearing one or two defenders like cheap suits to score or set up a goal. The Golden Jet is a fitting nickname considering his shot was once clocked at 118.3 miles per hour and he was also clocked skating 28.3 miles per hour while stick handling. For a Lady Byng Trophy winner, he sure didn't shy away from the rough stuff during games either.
As far as the game was concerned, Bobby Hull is considered an innovator. He would regroup with the puck before it was a thing to do and then go coast to coast, lifting fans out of their seats and unleash a wicked slap shot. Stan Mikita is known for accidentally inventing the curved blade, which Bobby was quick to use it to terrorize goalies even more than he had in the past.
Bobby Hull's greatest achievement as a player may have come when he rocked the hockey world in 1972 and signed with the Winnipeg Jets of the upstart World Hockey Association. On a handshake deal, the new league had one of the greatest players the game has ever known, giving it instant credibility. His signing caused player salaries to increase exponentially as players now had a new benchmark. For all of that positive legacy, however, signing with the Jets meant Bobby was left off Team Canada for the 1972 summit series against the powerful team from Russia - one of the biggest disappointments of his hockey career. Even the Canadian Prime Minister at the time wanted to see Bobby Hull playing for his country. Although he missed out on that opportunity, Bobby led Team Canada in goal scoring while Canada won the inaugural 1976 Canada Cup, a team that has long been considered the greatest Canadian team assembled.
Having Bobby on the Jets paid immediate dividends as the Jets won the Avco cup twice in 1975-76 and 1977-78 while making it to the finals in 4 of 6 years. He has the single season goal scoring record of 77 goals in 78 games, a feat he achieved in 1974-75. Playing on "The Hot Line" with Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg they would become one of the most dangerous and exciting forward lines in hockey history. He would score more than 50 goals a season 4 times as well as besting 100 points 4 times in the WHA. Bobby retired after playing 4 games of the 1978-79 season.
When the WHA merged with the NHL for the 1979-80 season, Bobby was talked out of retirement and joined the Winnipeg Jets for 18 games before going to the Hartford Whalers for 9 games. He would finish his career playing with Hall of Famers Gordie Howe, Dave Keon and Mark Howe. When he retired, Bobby had scored over 1000 career professional goals, joining Gordie Howe as the only two players to have scored so many goals.
The Golden Jet was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983 alongside his teammate and great friend Stan Mikita. Bobby was also unveiled as one of the NHL's top 100 players of all time at the 2017 NHL All Star Game in Los Angeles along with his son Brett. Bobby is often regarded as the greatest Left Wing in NHL history.
Bobby is also a proud father as his children have had successful lives. His Son Brett was also an NHL superstar making Bobby and Brett the only father son tandem to have scored 50 goals, 100 points in a season, over 600 NHL goals, 1000 NHL points and win the Hart and Lady Byng Trophies. They were also the first father son duo inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the only pair named in the NHL 100 Greatest Players of all time.
For all of his accomplishments on the ice, fans may remember Bobby more for being one of the best ambassadors the game has ever had. He has always been generous with his time, staying late after home or road games to sign all autographs or take pictures with fans, oftentimes holding the Blackhawks team bus up 30 minutes to an hour and a half after games. He has also given many game used sticks to fans after games. To this day, you can see how he enjoys spending time with fans as a Chicago Blackhawks Ambassador.
"1958-1980 Bobby Hull trading cards used courtesy of The Topps Company, Inc."