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Happy Birthday, Bobby Hull

He was born Robert Marvin Hull, Jr. in Point Anne, Ontario Canada on January 3, 1939 -- 61 years ago today -- and has gone down in history as one of the greatest hockey players ever. By the age of three Hull was skating; as early as age 10 he was being tagged as a sure-fire NHL star.

In 1957, Hull became a member of the Chicago Black Hawks where he remained for sixteen seasons. In 1960-1961, he led the team to the Stanley cup championship - Chicago's first title since 1938.

Possessor of probably the hardest shot in ice hockey - one of his shots was timed at 116.3 mph - Hull was also one of the fastest skaters in NHL history, timed at just below 30 mph.

Dubbed "the Golden Hawk" because of his blonde hair and the fact that he starred for the Chicago Black Hawks, Hull was a ten-time National Hockey League All-Star, a seven-time goal-scoring leader, and a three-time winner of the scoring championship. He was the first player in the NHL to score fifty goals in a season more than once (he had fifty in 1961-62, fifty four in 1955-56, and fifty two in 1956-57). It is an under-statement to call Hull a scoring machine.

Along with Boom Boom Geoffrion, Hull helped to popularize the slapshot. With his Chicago teammate and good friend Stan Mikita, Hull first began to use the curved blade which made his own slapshot - not to mention those of future NHL stars - that much more deadly and elusive.

Hull was a fiery, no-holds barred competitor who would not back away from a fight. His dental bills were a testimony to that part of his game. Most of his teeth were lost during his time in the NHL, and he played part of the 1968-69 season with his mouth wired shut after having his jaw broken. At times Hull's nose was so shattered and battered that he could barely breathe through it.

The world of hockey was shocked on June 27, 1972 when Hull jumped to the new World Hockey Association in a ten-year deal reportedly worth $2.75 million. A contract dispute with Hawks' management caused Hull to jump to the upstart league. He became hockey's first millionaire, and the WHA gained instant credibility. It was the greatest loss in Blackhawks history his departure allegedly cost the franchise close to 1 billion dollars over the next ten years due to declines in attendance.

In the WHA Hull picked up a new nickname - "the Golden Jet." This time the "golden" referred to the money he was making, and the "jet" to the Winnipeg Jets where he performed. The talented hockey superstar had won two Most Valuable Player awards in the National Hockey League. In 1972-73, he added a third playing for the Jets.

The man most regard as the best left wing in ice hockey history returned in 1979-1980 to the NHL as a member of the Hartford Whalers. In 1983, Bobby Hull was deservedly enshrined elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

He was a blend the talents of his most famed predecessors - the speed of Howie Morenz, the goal scoring prowess of Maurice Richard. To these he added the strength and control of Gordie Howe.

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About the Authors:  Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. More about these authors.

You can contact the Frommers at: 

Email: myrna.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Email: harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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