Iconic Families: The Hulls
As SB Nation is taking a look at iconic sports families, let's take a look back at the great Hull family.
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When talking about iconic families and the Chicago Blackhawks, no family says icon like the Hulls. Sure the Sutters have a rich history with the Hawks, but when a family includes the greatest player to ever wear the Indian Head sweater they jump to the top of the list.
The Hull family broke into the NHL when Bobby Hull made the Blackhawks roster in 1957, at the age of 18. Hull wore number 16 when he made his debut, then switched to 7 before making the change to his now retired number 9. Ironically, Hull chose 9 as a tribute to his idol and future rival Gordie Howe.
Bobby and his line mate Stan Mikita revolutionized the sport by curving their sticks. Hull already had one of the game's hardest slap shots, once being clocked at 118 mph, and the curved stick made the pucks fly at angles goalies around the NHL had never seen before. This innovation lead to Hull and Mikita setting the offensive watermark that all future Blackhawks still shoot for to this day.
"The Golden Jet" scored 604 goals, the most in franchise history, a record that will be very hard to beat. His 549 assists are good for 4th best in team history and his 1036 total points is second only to Stan Mikita's 1467. Hull lead the NHL in goals seven different times. He scored 54 goals in the 1961-62 season becoming the first player in NHL history score at least 50 goals in a season. Hull had four seasons of over 50 goals including his NHL career high of 58 in 66-67.
Hull's career in Chicago ended under very bad terms due to a contract dispute with the famously frugal Wirtz family. He left the Blackhawks and the NHL to sign with the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association. He lead the Jets to two AVCO Cups and scored 77 goals in the 1977-78 season. He returned to the NHL when the Jets joined the league in 1979. During that season he was traded to the Hartford Whalers where he played the final 12 games of his career.
Hull finished his career as a twelve time NHL All Star, a three time winner of the Art Ross Trophy, a two time Hart Trophy winner and honored once with the Land Bing. One of the smartest things Rocky Wirtz did when taking over the Chicago Blackhawks was reaching out to Bobby and Stan and getting them back into the good graces of the franchise. Hull can still electrify the United Center crowd just by being shown on the big screen. He is a true ambassador of not only the Blackhawks but the entire game of hockey as well.
Bobby's younger brother Dennis joined the Blackhawks in 1964. My father used to tell me that Dennis was a hell of a player who had the hard task of living up to being Bobby's younger brother. Fans and writers used to argue which one of the Hull brothers had the harder slap shot. "The Silver Jet" scored 298 career regular season goals for the Hawks including 40 in the memorable 1970-71 season.
Dennis was a member of one of the greatest lines in Blackhawks history, the MPH line. While playing with Pit Martin and Jim Papin, Hull put up the best numbers of his career, including a 90 point season in 72-73. Dennis carried that over into a great 1973 playoff run where he scored 9 goals and added 15 assists in a 16 game run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Arguably the best player of the Hull family was Bobby's son Brett. Although "The Golden Brett" never played for the Blackhawks his career was watched closely by many Chicago hockey fans. It was rough watching the son of the greatest Blackhawk to come to town wearing the sweater of the hated St. Louis Blues and later the Detroit Red Wings. It still blows mind that the Calgary Flames sent Hull along with Steve Bozek, to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for defenseman Rob Ramage and goaltender Rick Wamsley. That, my friends, is a horrible trade!
From 1989 to 1991 Brett was the best hockey player in the world. In those three seasons he scored 72, 86 and 70 goals respectively. I had to laugh, while looking up his career stats, when I saw he was a -27 in the 1992-93 season. This was a year in which Brett scored 54 goals and added 47 assists. How does someone with 101 points finish the year a -27?
Brett won his first of two Stanley Cups with the Dallas Stars in 1999. He scored the series winning goal in the third overtime of Game 6. I still don't think that goal should have counted due to the "in the crease" rules at the time. I also think Ed Belfour was robbed of the Conn Smythe that year too but that's a debate for another time. Hull went on to win a second Cup with the Wings in 2002 but we don't like to talk about such events on SCH.
Hull did like to play against his dad and uncle's former team. In 96 career regular season games against the Blackhawks Brett registered 92 points (46 G, 46 A). Brett's 741 career goals are the third most scored in NHL history only behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. Bobby and Brett are the only father and son due to have scored more than 50 goals in a season and more than 600 NHL goals in their careers. They are also the only father and son to win both the Hart and Lady Byng Trophies. While playing for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2005, Brett wore Bobby's famous number 9 for the last five games of his career. Bobby and Brett are the only father and son combination in any professional sport to both have their numbers retired when Brett's number 16 was retired by the Blues.