Bobby Hull, a Hockey Hall of Fame member and the first NHL player to record more than 50 goals in a single season, passed away on Monday at 84, the Chicago Blackhawks said. Hull, a Canadian player with a dreaded slapshot and the nickname “Golden Jet” because of his speed on the ice and blond hair, helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961, ending a 23-year title drought for the team.
“Hull is part of an elite group of players who made a historic impact on our hockey club,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. “Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership.”
The dynamic left winger turned around the fortunes of a Blackhawks team that had missed the playoffs in 11 of the previous 12 seasons before his arrival. Hull spent 15 seasons with Chicago, and his 604 goals still stand as a franchise record.
Along with his colleague Stan Mikita, Hull pioneered the curved hockey stick blade, which provided shooters more velocity and occasionally caused the ball to glide differently. Hull was a five-time 50-goal scorer, seven-time NHL scoring leader, twice-winner of the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, and ten-time left-wing first-team all-star.
“When Bobby Hull wound up to take a slapshot, fans throughout the NHL rose to their feet in anticipation, and opposing goaltenders braced themselves,” the NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, said in a statement. “During his prime, there was no more prolific goalscorer in all hockey.”
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Hull received the first $1 million hockey deal in history in 1972 to play for the Winnipeg Jets, who later moved to Phoenix, renamed the Coyotes, and joined the fledgling World Hockey Association.
Hull lost out on the opportunity to represent Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series matchup with the Soviet Union because the NHL disallowed his participation. The Canada-winning series continues to be a turning point for a generation of Canadians.
Before he joined his father in the Hall of Fame in 2009, Brett Hull, Hull’s son, competed in the NHL, scoring 741 goals and winning Stanley Cups with Dallas and Detroit.