Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/7/2014 (751 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Even 36 years after they last played together, Bobby Hull wanted Ulf Nilsson to his right.
"Ulfie, come on over here by me," the legendary left-winger called out to his centre from their days with the WHA's Winnipeg Jets from 1974-78.
Two-thirds of the famed Hot Line visited the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame on Pacific Avenue for the first time Wednesday and as has become customary with other inductees, they were asked to sign the Honoured Members Wall.
More than 100 athletes from all sports have signed the wall since the MSHOF was opened in late 2012 and Hull didn't want to take a chance he and his friend would be separated by more than an inch or two. (Don't worry, there's room for Anders Hedberg to fit in on the right.)
Hull, 75, said he was very impressed the second he walked inside and not by anything related to hockey. He was immediately drawn to the rowing exhibit of trophies, uniforms and pictures featuring inductees such as 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Janine Hanson (now Janine Stephens).
When the Golden Jet came across the section dedicated to the WHA Jets, the memories came flooding back.
"The people (at the museum) are to be commended for the tremendous display here. I think more people should know that it's here and what's inside so they can come and visit and be taken back in time. There's lots of memorabilia here that I haven't even seen."
Hull said Nilsson was one of the toughest players he ever shared the ice with, not because the Swede could fight but because he could take whatever punishment his opponents dished out and never let it affect his style.
"I remember a game in San Diego (against the Mariners) and when the game was over, Ulfie was bruised and cut and scraped from just underneath his blue Jofa helmet to the top of his skates, and he only got eight points that night," he said.
"They could hack him, spear him, two-hand him, punch him, but he would never quit. He was a tough SOB. He was the one who led our line. He carried the puck and took the abuse until it came to one of us and we put it in the net. He was just a fabulous kid and I'm honoured that he played with the Jets. I was honoured to play with him and I'm honoured to still call him my very good friend."
Nilsson, known as a prankster as a player, hasn't changed much in that regard. When he and Hull were leaving the MSHOF, Hull opted to take a mini-elevator down to save his aching knees from a flight of steps. Nilsson, who was at the controls at the bottom of the stairs, brought him down halfway before telling him, "It's broken. You're too heavy," before breaking out into laughter.
Nilsson said coming to Winnipeg with fellow countrymen Hedberg, Lars-Erik Sjoberg and Curt Larsson was the best decision he ever made.
"For us to be able to play with Bobby was just unbelievable. We had a great impact on the way North American hockey has been played for many, many years," he said.
Both Hull and Nilsson are in town participating in several fundraising events for the Amadeus Steen Foundation.
Rick Brownlee, executive director of the MSHOF, said he's always happy to give honoured members a tour of the facility for the first time.
"Their faces lit up. You could see it was taking them back 40 years," he said.
The WHA Jets are the focal point of the 1970s exhibit. When Nilsson saw Hull's jersey on display, he told Brownlee he'd send him one of his own.
"He said he'd talk to Anders and maybe we'd have the whole Hot Line. That would be fabulous," Brownlee said.