Signs With World Hockey Association
It seemed that Hull had almost single-handedly revived the Blackhawks' fortunes and his salary climbed to $100,000 for the 1968-69 season. Yet he faced a series of battles with the team's owners. After investors started up a rival hockey league, the World Hockey Association (WHA), in 1972 to compete with the NHL, Hull was one of the first players they approached about the venture. "Going to the WHA was not one bit about money," Hull recalled in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Allen Abel in 1998, "I had been at war with the Blackhawks' management for years. We hated each other." Still, when the WHA made an offer of a quarter million dollars a year, plus a one-million-dollar signing bonus, Hull thought the offer was bogus. "I thought it was a joke," he told Abel, "I pretended to go along with it, just to scare Chicago. Then my agent, Harvey Weinberg, said, 'Bobby, these guys are serious.'" The total value of the final contract with the WHA's Winnepeg Jets came to $1.75 million, which ensured the WHA a huge amount of advance publicity for the new league.
After sitting out several games when Chicago sued to prevent his departure, Hull joined the lineup of the Jets, where he remained for the next seven years. He won most valuable player honors in the 1972-73 and 1974-75 seasons and was widely regarded as the WHA's biggest star. Even Hull's popularity could not pull the entire WHA out of its management problems, however, and it folded in 1979. Four of its teams and dozens of its players were absorbed into the NHL, and Hull finished out his career playing for the league's Hartford Whalers in 1980. Now in his forties, Hull practiced with the New York Rangers in preparation for a comeback in 1981, but he did not make the team's final cut. In all he had played fifteen seasons with the NHL, seven seasons with the WHA, and one season split between the two leagues.