Hull the hockey player remembered fondly by former teammates


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To say Bobby Hull was a polarizing figure would be an understatement.

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To say Bobby Hull was a polarizing figure would be an understatement.

It can be easily argued what Hull said and did off the ice overshadows everything he meant to the sport of hockey, and more specifically, the Winnipeg Jets. Those who played with the Golden Jet shared a different sentiment Monday when speaking to Free Press shortly after it was announced Hull — who won two Avco Cups in six full seasons in the WHA with the Jets — had died at the age of 84.

“The negative things said about Bobby Hull, I never experienced that in my life and I was with Bobby for four years in the same dressing room, the plane, going everywhere. I never experienced that side of him and I’m glad I never did but, apparently, that’s true,”said former Jets forward Norm Beaudin, alluding to alleged spousal abuse and the racist comments Hull made to a Russian newspaper in 1998.

“The way I want to remember Bobby is just the way he was, the way he was such a great ambassador to the game…

“I hope that he’s remembered as the superstar and for bringing hockey to Winnipeg — bringing major-league hockey to Winnipeg. Eventually, they got an NHL franchise and the only reason they got that is because of Bobby Hull.”

Winnipeg’s own Joe Daley, who was with Hull for his entire WHA tenure, is quick to answer when asked what he’ll most remember.

“His booming slapshot, for sure. Had to face that many times in practice,” said the goalie with a chuckle.

“(But) in general, his generosity to the fans and especially kids. He taught us all to have time for those that love the game. The endless hours that he spent promoting the game, hockey and in general — just a tremendous teammate and a tremendous player.”

“As far as teammate and friend goes, I’d consider him one of the best.”

Golden Jet put Winnipeg on global hockey map, but off-ice behaviour shocked fans

Hull got to reunite with his fellow members of The Hot Line — Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg — as well as several other teammates from his time in Winnipeg this past October in Whistler, B.C., for the WHA’s 50th anniversary reunion. Hull’s health was clearly deteriorating as he was confined to a wheelchair.

“I’m incredibly happy that we were able to spend 10 days with Bobby. At that time, physically he was in bad shape, Mentally, his brain was as clear as the bell. He remembered old jokes, Swedish sentences we taught him. Every little thing. I’m sad, but am I totally surprised he passed away? No, I’m not,” said Hedberg.

“I’m so thankful we were able to spend time with him, hug him, say goodbye. Not forever. But that was going through my mind, yes.”

Hull made history in Winnipeg on June 27, 1972, when he stood at the corner of Portage and Main and became the first player to sign a million-dollar contract. He went on to score 303 goals and register 335 assists in 411 WHA games. He also played 18 games for the NHL 1.0 Jets in the 1979-80 season before being traded to the Hartford Whalers to close out his legendary 23-year pro hockey career. Before arriving in the Manitoba capital, Hull cemented himself as arguably the greatest player in Chicago Blackhawks history by winning the Hart Trophy twice, the NHL’s scoring title three times, and the Stanley Cup in 1961.

“Bobby brought hockey to Winnipeg and shaped the WHA. Bobby, in his own right, put the great city of Winnipeg on the map,” said Michael Gobuty, who co-owned the Jets in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

“He was a remarkable hockey player and he did so much for hockey, for the players, for everybody. Amazing man.”

“He was probably one of the top three or four ever to play the game.”

Hull’s No. 9 banner hangs from the rafters at Canada Life Place as the Jets inducted all three members of The Hot Line into the team’s hall of fame in 2016. Hull was the only one to not attend the ceremony.

“He was a very, very established 33-year-old when we came to Winnipeg. Bobby had never seen European hockey, had never played with Europeans. You wouldn’t think such an established 33-year-old, in many ways a conservative fellow, would embrace two young guys the way he did. It’s almost impossible, but he did,” said Hedberg. Nilsson and Hedberg eventually left the Jets in 1978 to take their talents to the NHL’s New York Rangers.

“Bobby was preparing for Team Canada ‘74 playing the Russians, and we were just getting ready for camp. We were skating at the University of Manitoba. He said, ‘Hey kid, you go over to the right side, because this is my side.’ And it just clicked. It worked from the first time on the ice and for four straight years.”

Current Jets star Mark Scheifele also got to know the Hockey Hall of Famer. The two met in Winnipeg a few years back at Scheifele’s charity golf tournament.

“He was an awesome guy to meet. Obviously, a moment that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I was lucky enough to have dinner with Brett Hull, his son, one time in St. Louis, which was amazing hearing stories about his dad and growing up with him. So, obviously, that’s a huge loss to the hockey world. Obviously, thinking and praying for his family and hoping they’re doing OK,” Scheifele told reporters on Monday.

“But, obviously, he was a guy that revolutionized the game and was one of the stars who made hockey what it is today. So we wouldn’t be where we are without him.”

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Twitter: @jfreysam

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...


Updated on Monday, January 30, 2023 7:19 PM CST: Updates lede

Updated on Monday, January 30, 2023 9:20 PM CST: Minor edits

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