Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Why Hull isn't on a street sign

It seems no one suggested it to city hall

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Ben Hatskin (left) holds up Bobby Hull's historic million-dollar contract at Portage Avenue and Main Street in this 1972 photo.

GERRY HART / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Ben Hatskin (left) holds up Bobby Hull's historic million-dollar contract at Portage Avenue and Main Street in this 1972 photo. Photo Store

Ever wonder why Winnipeg doesn't have a Bobby Hull Boulevard or a Ben Hatskin Drive?

It's simple -- nobody requested one.

Contrary to popular belief, Mayor Sam Katz and his staff don't sit around their offices dreaming up what Winnipegger, former Winnipegger or celebrity who has been to Winnipeg, to honour next.

There is, in fact, an application process.

So, if you're also curious how Winnipeg came to have Milt Stegall Drive, Team Jones Way or Kelekis Way, well, somebody filled out the right form and sent it in.

Since True North confirmed last month it would honour old-timers from the original Winnipeg Jets franchise as part of an alumni game, should it be successful in landing an outdoor game in 2015 or 2016, many people have wondered why the city hasn't done anything to recognize the city's hockey trailblazers.

Katz, who was among the throng at Portage and Main when Hull signed his historic million-dollar contract in 1972, said there's no doubt NHL hockey is in Winnipeg because of the Golden Jet and Hatskin, the maverick who convinced other WHA owners to join him in ponying up for the $1-million contract for the league's marquee player.

"It put Winnipeg on the map instantly," he said.

The mayor said he's surprised, considering the many naming requests that come into his office, he's never had one for Hull. "I find that pretty amazing. We do have a process. We'd have to find the right location. Is that something that we would entertain? Absolutely," he said.

One possibility for a street naming is in the many new communities being built by developers. Ron Hambley, executive vice-president of the Winnipeg Construction Association, said builders are always looking for ideas to name their streets.

Katz will get no argument from Barry Shenkarow, who owned the original Jets for their last year-and-a-half in the WHA and 17 years in the NHL. In fact, he'd like to take things one step further.

"There should be a statue built in front of the MTS Centre, just like they're going to do at the football stadium with Bud Grant, and the statue should be Bobby Hull," he said.

Without Hull being spirited away from the Chicago Blackhawks, Shenkarow said he seriously doubts if there would be NHL hockey in Winnipeg today. In fact, he considers that summer day back in 1972 as the "biggest day" in the city's hockey history.

"Hockey was in Winnipeg. The NHL knew we existed. (Hull) was either the No. 1, 2 or 3 player in the world at the time.

"Bobby Hull scored 50 goals when 20 goal scorers were the name of the game. Nobody from Winnipeg will ever forget him picking up the puck behind his own net and skating through the entire other team and scoring. (A statue of him) would honour the hockey history of Winnipeg," he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 7, 2014 B4

History

Updated on Monday, July 7, 2014 at 7:06 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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