Blackhawks Legend Bobby Hull Has Passed Away

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Blackhawks Legend Bobby Hull Has Reportedly Passed Away (UPDATE: Wirtz and Hawks’ Statements)

Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks Hall of Famer Bobby Hull has reportedly passed away at the age of 84. He leaves behind a complicated history with Blackhawks fans.

On the ice, he was one of the greatest to every do it. His flowing blonde hair produced one of the elite nicknames in sports history: The Golden Jet. His speed up and down the ice was unmatched, and some old timers will tell you he still has the hardest shot they’ve ever seen.

Hull led the league in goal scoring seven times in 15 years with the Blackhawks and he won back-to-back Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player for the 1964-65 and ’65-66 seasons. He was also a member of the Blackhawks’ 1961 Stanley Cup championship roster.

Hull scored 50 goals in a season four times with the Blackhawks — something that was unthinkable in the 1960s. In 1965-66 he became the first player to score more than 50 goals in a season in NHL history. I think we’ve become numb to enormous single-season records being set over the past 20-30 years because of the PED scandal(s) in baseball, but what Hull did 60 years ago was truly breathtaking.

His 604 goals still stand as the benchmark in Blackhawks’ franchise history, and he reached that number in only 1,036 games. His 1,153 points are third in the history of the organization behind only Stan Mikita and Patrick Kane. To this day, only 20 players in NHL history have scored 600 goals.

And Bobby scored another 303 in another league during the second half of his prime.

In 1972, Hull infamously received a $1 million offer from the Winnipeg Jets of the fledgling WHA. He accepted it, becoming one of the key players who helped that league gain legitimacy. Ultimately, the WHA merged with the NHL and the final season of Hull’s career (1979-80) was back in the NHL.

When Hull left for the WHA, NHL owners locked him out of participating in the Summit Series that year against Russia. His brother, Dennis (aka The Silver Jet), was on that roster, but Bobby wasn’t allowed to play. Indeed, some owners didn’t want any NHL players to participate but Blackhawks ownership led the charge to keep NHL players involved in that historic event.

There is no denying the incredible ability Bobby had on the ice, which he shared with his son, Brett. Brett Hull scored 741 goals in the NHL (fifth all-time).

One of the first things Rocky Wirtz did when he assumed leadership with the Blackhawks organization was bringing Bobby Hull back into the fold. He was made an ambassador of the team and frequently appeared at games and events on behalf of the organization.

Away from the ice, the later parts of Bobby’s life had some controversy, as well. He was accused of domestic violence by two of his wives, and, in 1998, was quoted by a Russian media outlet allegedly making reprehensible comments. He later denied those comments were ever made, telling the LA Times the story was fabricated.

The Blackhawks officially parted ways with Bobby Hull as an ambassador a little more than one year ago, telling Scott Powers of The Athletic: “We’re redefining the role of team ambassador — which unfortunately comes on the heels of losing two very special members of that family (Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito, who died). When it comes to Bobby, specifically, we jointly agreed earlier this season that he will retire from any official team role.”

There is still a beautiful statue of Hull next to his longtime teammates, Stan Mikita, outside the United Center on Madison. They’re gorgeous statues that capture each player in action. Now, each has sadly passed away.

UPDATE: The Blackhawks and Rocky Wirtz have released the following statements.

Statement on behalf of Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz

“Bobby Hull will always be remembered as one of the greatest Blackhawks players of all time. He was a beloved member of the Blackhawks family. When I assumed leadership of the organization upon my father’s passing in 2007, one of my first priorities was to meet with Bobby to convince him to come back as an ambassador of the team. His connection to our fans was special and irreplaceable. On behalf of the entire Wirtz family, I offer our deepest condolences on the loss of Bobby Hull, the Golden Jet. He will be missed.”

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab