Bobby Hull, hockey’s ‘Golden Jet’ of the ice, dies at 84

Bobby Hull, a longtime Chicago Black Hawks winger nicknamed the “Golden Jet,” whose speed, high-velocity shots and showmanship made him one of the most popular hockey players of all time, has died at age 84.

The team, which now goes by the single word Blackhawks, announced the death on Twitter but did not release further information.

“Hull was the Canadian Superman,” author Gare Joyce wrote of the Ontario-born athlete in “The Devil and Bobby Hull,” a 2011 book chronicling Mr. Hull’s life before and after allegations of spousal abuse and racism tainted his public persona.

A flashy and marketable player who scored goals in bunches, Mr. Hull was one of the NHL’s biggest stars during the Original Six era, when the NHL had only six teams in Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Montreal, New York and Toronto.

Mr. Hull’s up-ice rushes brought fans to their feet, as he scored 50 or more goals in a season five times while turning a relatively new shooting style — the slap shot — into an offensive weapon. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated five times, then unprecedented for a hockey player and a nod of mainstream approval to the sport itself.

He passed his skills on to one of his sons, hockey Hall-of-Famer Brett Hull, who scored even more goals than his father. Mr. Hull’s brother Dennis, nicknamed the “Silver Jet,” also played with him in Chicago for many years.

In 1961, Mr. Hull and teammate Stan Mikita helped end the Montreal Canadiens’ record run of five consecutive Stanley Cups, and then defeated Gordie Howe’s Detroit Red Wings, 4 games to 2, to give Chicago its first championship in 23 years. The team wouldn’t win another title until 2010.

“Back then I thought I’d have a bunch of these,” Mr. Hull told Joyce of his only Stanley Cup victory, at age 22.

Mr. Hull packed NHL arenas during his 15 NHL seasons with Chicago. He led the league in goal scoring seven times, a record that lasted 50 years before Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin bested it in 2019. He led the NHL in points three times, and was an NHL first-team all-star 10 times.

In 1968, Mr. Hull felt that his popularity didn’t match his compensation, so he protested by retiring in an attempt to get more money. The Black Hawks called his bluff and, without better options, Mr. Hull returned to the team with a prorated salary. He was fined and had to issue a public apology for missing part of the season.

This was the beginning of the end for Mr. Hull in Chicago but also the start of an era where superstar athletes made millions of dollars.

“The name of the game now is money,” Mr. Hull told Sports Illustrated in 1972 as he negotiated with an upstart hockey league, the World Hockey Association, that would give him what he wanted.

With much fanfare, including a large, cardboard check, Mr. Hull signed as a player-coach with the Winnipeg Jets for $1.75 million over 10 years, plus a $1 million signing bonus — far more than he had been making in the NHL. Other NHL players, such as Howe, also fled to the WHA.

In the WHA, Mr. Hull won championships and scoring titles, but the success came at a steep cost. Team Canada didn’t allow anyone other than NHL players to…

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