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Bobby Hull

Controversy In Retirement

Hull completed his NHL career with 1,063 games, 610 goals, and 560 assists. His WHA statistics included 411 games, 303 goals, and 335 assists. As an offensive player with few peers, Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983. That same year his son, Brett Hull, began playing for the Penticton Knights, the first step in a hockey career that would eventually take him to the Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings in 2002.

Retiring from his career as a professional athlete to manage his cattle ranching operations in Canada, Hull was often sought out for his comments as an elder statesman of hockey. The outspokenness that made him such a popular sports figure sometimes got him into trouble, however. While attending a hockey game in Moscow in 1998, the English-language Moscow Times printed an interview that quoted Hull as favorably evaluating the racial breeding practices of Adolf Hitler as well as making racist comments against African Americans. Hull insisted that he had not made the comments and that he had only been discussing his cattle ranching operations without any racist implications whatsoever. Whatever the truth of the event, it was widely reported in the North American press and tarnished Hull's image with some of his fans. Despite the controversy, Hull remained a sought-after figure on the fan circuit, where his autographed merchandise remained popular with generations of hockey followers.

Awards and Accomplishments

1960, 1962, 1966 Art Ross Trophy as NHL's top scorer
1961 Stanley Cup as NHL champions (Chicago Blackhawks)
1965 Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship in NHL
1965-66 Hart Trophy as NHL's Most Valuable Player
1973, 1975 Most Valuable Player in WHA
1983 Inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame

Related Biography: Team Owner Ben Hatskin

A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Ben Hatskin was born in 1918 to parents who had emigrated from Russia. A standout football player in high school, he became one of the first Canadian students to win an athletic scholarship to an American university. He played for the Sooners at the University of Oklahoma but returned to Winnipeg to play for the Blue Bombers before he graduated from college. During World War II he began raising racehorses and his wealth grew as the Hatskin family invested in everything from lumber companies to juke box distributorships.

In 1967 Hatskin attempted to win an NHL franchise during the league's expansion. His bid failed, which fueled his desire to participate in a new, rival league, the WHA, in 1972. Hatskin knew that the credibility of the WHA depended on getting established hockey stars to join its teams. He aggressively sought out the services of Bobby Hull for his team, the Winnipeg Jets, and eventually signed Hull to a contract estimated to be worth at least $1.75 million.

Although it was one of the more successful teams in the WHA, Hatskin had to ask for a public subsidy to keep the financially troubled Jets alive after 1974. The team was absorbed into the NHL in 1979 and was purchased by Barry Shenkarow. At the end of the 1995-96 season Shenkarow sold the team to a consortium of Minneapolis businessmen, who ended up moving the team to Phoenix, where it was renamed the Coyotes. A few years later, hockey legend Wayne Gretzky bought an interest in the team and started working as its general manager. In Winnipeg, Hatskin is still remembered as visionary who performed a near-miracle in bringing a major-league sports franchise to a medium-sized city on the Canadian prairie.

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsHockeyBobby Hull Biography - Hockey Prodigy, Top Scorer In Nhl, Chronology, The Nhl's Most Popular Player