Bobby Hull dies at 84: former Blackhawks star had checked past

Bobby Hull dies at 84: former Blackhawks star had checked past

Bobby Hull, the former Blackhawks star nicknamed the “Golden Jet” with a legacy tarnished by off-ice transgressions, has died.

He was 84.

“Hull is part of an elite group of players who made a historic impact on our hockey club,” the Hawks said in a statement Monday. “’The Golden Jet’ helped the Blackhawks win the 1961 Stanley Cup and delivered countless memories to our fans, whom he adored.

“Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership. … We send our deepest sympathies to the Hull family.”

Hull remains the Hawks’ all-time leading goal-scorer with 604 goals, accumulated over a 15-year tenure with the team from 1957 to 1972.

His death comes less than a year, however, after the Hawks parted ways with him as a team ambassador.

A native of Point Anne, Ontario, Hull emerged as a star in his third season of 1959-60, tallying 39 goals and 81 points, and never looked back. He broke the 30-goal plateau in 13 consecutive seasons and eclipsed the 50-goal mark five times, including a career-best 58 goals and 107 points in 1968-69.

He played a major role in the Hawks’ 1961 championship, finishing second on the team in scoring in both the regular season and playoffs. He was awarded the Hart Trophy as league MVP in both 1965 and 1966.

His jump from the NHL to the World Hockey Association in 1972, signing with the Winnipeg Jets, provided the WHA its first moment of legitimacy. He enjoyed seven productive seasons with the Jets, then came with them back to the NHL in 1979 for a brief final season before retirement. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.

But Hull’s history of inappropriate off-ice conduct — marked by rampant allegations of domestic abuse and racism — has long overshadowed his on-ice achievements.

Hull was convicted in 1987 of assaulting a police officer who intervened in an argument between Hull and then-wife Deborah. A mini-documentary by ESPN in 2002 included his previous wife, Joanne, recounting a fight in which Hull beat her in the head with a steel-heeled shoe, then held her off a balcony in Hawaii.

Hull’s daughter, Michelle, who became a defense lawyer for female abuse victims, also detailed Hull’s history of alcoholism in that documentary.

In 1997, a Russian publication quoted Hull praising Hitler for “good ideas,” claiming the Black population was growing too fast and expressing support for genetic breeding. Hull denied the comments and sued the publication at the time.

Hull was nevertheless chosen in 2008 to become a Hawks team ambassador alongside Chris Chelios, Denis Savard and the late Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito. Three years later, the team erected a statue of Hull and Mikita along Madison Street outside the United Center.

Hull held that ambassador role until last season, when he and the Hawks “jointly agreed” he would “retire from any official team role,” the team said in a February 2022 statement.

“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,” Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement Monday. “His connection to our fans was special and irreplaceable. On behalf of the entire Wirtz family, I offer our deepest condolences.”

Hull’s son, Brett, actually surpassed his father’s stats during an extremely successful NHL career of his own from 1987 to 2006. He is the Blues’ all-time leading goal-scorer.

Bobby Hull (left) meets with Blackhawks fans in 1959.


Bobby Hull (left) celebrates the Blackhawks’ 1961 Stanley Cup title.


Bobby Hull is introduced at the 2016 Blackhawks Convention.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.