Everyone wanted to see Bobby Hull play

Everyone wanted to see Bobby Hull play


The first autograph I got was from Bobby Hull. I had received it through my uncle Marcel, a traveling salesman, who had met the Blonde Comet in a bathroom at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The Blackhawks' number 9 message, which was spelled in two words in time, read: To Marc, best wishes, Bobby Hull.< strong> It was in 1966, I was 12 years old.

I don't remember if my uncle had spelled the words for him in French or if Hull had done it himself, but whatever.

It's the first memory that came to mind at the announcement of the death of Bobby Hull, yesterday, at the age of 84 years.

The man had the sense of public relations. He said it was part of an athlete's job to give back to fans and journalists.

He signed lots of autographs during pre-game warm-ups and kept his team bus waiting after games away.

Poor goalkeepers!

Hull was at the top of his game in 1966. He had just eclipsed the record of 50 goals in a season which he shared with Maurice Richard and Bernard Geoffrion.

He was the most electrifying player in the National League, he made crowds jump with his punchy drives and blistering slap shots that reached 100 miles an hour. The guards feared him, and for good reason!

In addition to facing throws at a speed they had never seen before, many were still playing without masks.

Poor them!

The advent of banana paddles

As if they didn't have it hard enough in the line of duty, it was the beginning of sticks with curved paddles, a brainchild of the great Stan Mikita who grew up with Hull in the Blackhawks organization. 

Mikita had the idea one day to place the blade of his staff under a door to give it an arched shape. He then experimented with shooting pucks.

Hull imitated him and thus began the era of banana sticks, as they were nicknamed.

Young were all Bobby Hulls when they lifted their stick far back, whether with a puck or a tennis ball. We finally managed to get the puck up with slap shots.


Watch out for flying pucks!

One evening, at Chicago Stadium, my late colleague Pierre Nadon had just time to lower his head in the press gallery which was located at one end of the rink.

Hull had sprung from the middle of the rink. The puck had dented the wall behind friend Pierre.

Fans who sat behind the bases wherever Hull went should beware.

Also, a visit from the Blackhawks to the Forum was an event. However, the Canadian had the player to watch Hull. 

Claude Provost, who should have his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau, had the mission to follow him step by step and did his job well.

The Habs are the of the original six teams against which Hull had the fewest goals, the fewest assists and the fewest points, 64 goals and 67 assists for a total of 131 points in 171  matches.

The Canadian was also the only formation against which he compiled a negative differential with a record of -34.

Hull totaled 211 points (108-103) in 175 games against the Bruins, 194 (108- 86) in 171 games against the Rangers, 193 (98-95) in 171 games against the Red Wings and 181 (97-84) in 173 against the Maple Leafs.

Bel tribute to Joe

Hull gave me a nice eulogy of Provost, whom his teammates called Joefor his versatility and hard work when he died suddenly in Florida in 1984.

“My best memory of Claude is that he was by far my most honest roofer , he had said.

“I don't remember a time when I got mad at him when he covered me too closely. ”

The two had become friends over time.

Force of nature

Hull was a god in Chicago.

The Hawks were the laughingstock of the NHL before he landed in the Windy City, followed a year later by his good friend Mikita during the second half of the 1950s.

Native of Point Anne , a ghost town that was annexed to Belleville, Ontario, he grew up on a farm.

His body was carved out of rock.

We liked to say that he was strong like the oxen he owned on his cattle farm.

Former referee Red Storey, who was renowned for his cheerful personality and colorful language, said of him that the more clothes he took off, the fatter he got.

Constructor of the 'AMH

After 15 seasons in Chicago during which he scored 604 goals, Hull took the gamble of joining the World Association, which needed big names to its place on the chessboard of professional hockey.

The 12 teams of the new league all contributed to its commitment bonus, which amounted to one million dollars, which represented a strong sum in 1972.

The value of the contract that tied him to the Winnipeg Jets was 1.75 million over a period of 10 years.

Hull continued to fill the net alongside Swedes Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, a trio known as the Hot Line in what soon became the cursed circuit in the eyes of National League owners.

All in all, Hull scored 913 goals and 1,808 points in 1,474 NHL (16 seasons) and WHA (seven seasons) games.

It's what you could call a great career. 

His life was not a model

Brett Hull did not speak to his father, Bobby, for several years. They reconciled when the son started his NHL career. The father was present, in 2006, when the Blues retired Brett's number 16.

Bobby Hull had a dark side. The man could not come close to the great hockey player he was.

His escapades in his personal life have greatly tarnished his image. His daughter Michelle, one of five siblings from his first marriage to Joanne McKay, once said you don't want to be around when her dad is drunk. A lawyer by profession, she now defends women victims of domestic violence. 

Although no criminal charges were brought in this matter against his father, it was common knowledge that he abused his spouses physically. 

In addition to his first wife Joanne with whom he was a couple from 1960 to 1980, his second spouse Deborah, to whom he was married from 1984 to 1986, publicly reported the mistreatment that Hull subjected him to.

She has lodged a complaint against him, then withdrew it. She has lived a life away from the public eye ever since.

Hull also had a short-lived relationship with a woman named Claudia Allen.

Reconciliation with Brett

His son Brett did not speak to him for several years, blaming him for what he had done to his mother Joanne. He reconciled with his father when he began his National League career with the Calgary Flames.

Married three times, Hull had six children from two unions, plus another from a chance relationship.

During his junior career with the St. Catharines Teepees, he had a daughter he didn't even know existed when he left St. Catharines to play in the National League. The young mother gave the child up for adoption.

Besides Michelle and Brett, three other boys were born from the marriage between Joanne McKay and Hull. Bobby Jr. and Blake won the Memorial Cup with the Cornwall Royals in 1980. 

Bart, for his part, played as a running back with the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Saskatchewan of the Canadian Football League.

Michelle, meanwhile, was a figure skater.


In an interview he gave me in 1983, Hull said having regrets.

“If I had to do it again, I would be more attentive to my family. I regret if I was able to embarrass my wife [Joanne] and my children at times.

“And God knows if I hurt them.

However, he did not learn the lesson since he attacked his wife Deborah a few years later, with whom he had a daughter.

Hull also makes headlines for uttering racist remarks. In an interview with the Moscow Timesin 1988, he said of Hitler that he had good ideas, but perhaps he had gone too far.

He denied having made these remarks, adding that it was the journalist who had led him to discuss this subject…

Another story says that he was also quoted to say that the black population was too high in the United States