Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, a 12-time All-Star and two-time Hart Trophy winner, has died, the Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday. He was 84.
“We send our deepest sympathies to the Hull family,” the team said in a statement. “The Hull family has requested privacy during this difficult time. They appreciate the sympathies that have been sent their way.”
Hull, known during his playing career as the Golden Jet because of his blond hair and his speed on the ice, became beloved in Chicago for teaming with Stan Mikita to help the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961, ending a 23-year title drought .
Following Mikita’s lead, Hull became known for curving the blade of his wooden stick in the 1960s and had one of the most feared slap shots in the league. His slap shot was reportedly clocked at 118 mph.
He played 15 seasons in Chicago and is the franchise’s career leader in goals scored with 604. For eight of those seasons, he played alongside his brother Dennis, who scored 298 goals with the Blackhawks. Bobby Hull won back-to-back Hart Memorial Trophies as the league’s most valuable player in 1964-65 and 1965-66, when he won the NHL scoring title for the third time in his career.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement called Hull “a true superstar with a gregarious personality.”
“When Bobby Hull wound up to take a slapshot, fans throughout the NHL rose to their feet in anticipation and opposing goaltenders braced themselves,” Bettman said. “During his prime, there was no more prolific goal-scorer in all of hockey. … We send our deepest condolences to his son, fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Brett; the entire Hull family; and the countless fans around the hockey world who were fortunate enough to see him play or have since marveled at his exploits.”
In 1972, Hull signed the first $1 million contract in the history of professional hockey (10 years, $1.75 million), leaving the Blackhawks and the NHL to join the Winnipeg Jets of the WHA as a player/coach.
He played seven seasons in the WHA and helped the Jets win Avco Cups in 1976 and 1978. He won two Gordie Howe Trophies as the league’s most valuable player in 1972-73 and 1974-75, a season in which he scored a career-best 77 goals.
He announced his retirement during the 1978-79 season but decided to return the following season after the WHA merged with the NHL. He played 18 games with the Jets in 1979-80 and was traded to the Hartford Whalers, playing nine games for the team before retiring again.
Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. His son Brett is also in the Hall of Fame, inducted in 2009 after a 19-season career in which he scored 741 goals. Bobby and Brett Hull are the only father and son to each win the Hart Trophy. They also were the only father and son named among the 100 Greatest NHL Players in 2017.
Hull finished in the top three in goals scored in 10 NHL seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Only Gordie Howe (12) and Alex Ovechkin (11) have more such instances.
Bobby Hull’s No. 9 is retired by the Blackhawks and the Jets. That Winnipeg franchise relocated to Arizona in 1996 and was renamed the Coyotes, who also retired Hull’s No. 9. The Coyotes unretired the number in 2005 so Brett Hull could honor his father by wearing it.
Bobby Hull had 610 goals and 560 assists in 1,063 regular-season NHL games. In addition to his two Hart Trophies, he was a three-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy awarded to the league leader in points and took home the 1965 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship combined with stellar play.
Although Hull starred on the ice, he faced legal and family issues in his personal life.
He faced allegations of domestic abuse from two of his three wives. His second wife, figure skater Joanne McKay, alleged that in 1966 he held her over a balcony in Hawaii and hit her with a shoe and in 1978 threatened her with a loaded shotgun. His third wife, Deborah, filed charges after an incident in 1984 but later dropped them. Hull, however, later pleaded guilty to taking a swing at an officer during his arrest and was fined $150 and placed on six months of court supervision.
In 1998, Hull came under fire for telling The Moscow Times that the Black population in the United States was growing too fast and that “Hitler had some good ideas” but “just went a bit too far.”
The Blackhawks announced last year that Hull would no longer serve as a team ambassador. The team said it was redefining the role of team ambassador after Mikita died in 2018 and Tony Esposito died in 2021.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.