Bobby Hull, dead at 84, was a star in two leagues

Bobby Hull, who rocked the NHL on and off the ice, has died at 84.

The league’s Alumni association made the announcement Monday morning about the Golden Jet with a legendary slap shot.

Hull was a three-time Art Ross Trophy winner, two-time league MVP and a 1961 Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was the first player to score more than 50 goals in one season.

But during a contract dispute with the Blackhawks, he became the first NHL all star to jump to the new World Hockey Association in 1972, remaining for all seven of its seasons before a brief return to the older league.

Hull’s defection to Winnipeg for a $1-million bonus set off a signing war between frugal NHL owners and the upstart WHA, leading to Hull being left off of Team Canada 72’s roster for the Summit Series with Russia.

But with the Jets, Hull combined with the European talent the new league embraced. He had four seasons of 50 or more goals with the Jets, including 77 in 78 games in 1974-75. The Jets won three Avco Cup titles.

His feud with the Blackhawks lasted until the end of the Bill Wirtz era, when Hull and other Chicago stars such as Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito made peace with the team in time for its resurgence as Stanley Cup champs in 2010, ’13 and ’15.

Born in Point Anne, Ont., Hull was an NHL poster boy, with a famous picture of him working shirtless on a farm.

He was immensely popular with fans throughout North America and always obliged with autographs.

His shot was the first to be officially clocked in excess of 100 miles per hour and struck fear in the hearts of goalies in the Original Six era, who did not wear masks and had little upper body padding.

“All I’ve done all my life is just tried to better the game for our players and for those people watching,” Hull was quoted in a 2010 book on Hockey Hall Of Fame members, himself inducted in 1983.

But the father of Brett Hull, another sniper of note who would join Bobby in the Hall, had a stormy life away from the game, rocky marriages with accusations of spousal abuse, and his own controversial  comments on various topics.

Among Bobby’s 913 goals with both leagues were 49 at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto against the Maple Leafs and 80 points, the latter tying him for the third most in building history.

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