(Reuters) -Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, the first National Hockey League player to score more than 50 goals in a season, has died at the age of 84, the Chicago Blackhawks said on Monday.
Canadian Hull, who had a feared slapshot and was known as the ‘Golden Jet’ because of his blonde hair and speed on the ice, helped lead the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 1961 that ended a 23-year title drought for the franchise.
“Hull is part of an elite group of players who made a historic impact on our hockey club,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. “Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership.”
The electric left winger helped resurrect the fortunes of a Blackhawks franchise which, prior to his arrival, had missed the playoffs in 11 out of the previous 12 seasons.
Hull, who with team mate Stan Mikita popularized the curved hockey stick blade which gave shooters more velocity and caused the puck to move differently at times, played 15 seasons with Chicago and his 604 goals remain a franchise record.
Hull was a five-time 50-goal scorer, led the NHL in goalscoring seven times, twice won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player and was voted a First-Team All-Star on the left wing 10 times.
“When Bobby Hull wound up to take a slapshot, fans throughout the NHL rose to their feet in anticipation and opposing goaltenders braced themselves,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “During his prime, there was no more prolific goalscorer in all of hockey.”
In 1972 Hull famously joined the upstart World Hockey Association when he signed the first $1 million contract in hockey history to play for the Winnipeg Jets, who relocated to Phoenix in 1996 and became the Coyotes.
The decision cost Hull a chance to play for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union as the NHL blocked his participation. The series, won by Canada, remains a defining moment for a generation of Canadians.
Hull’s son Brett also played in the NHL, scoring 741 goals and winning Stanley Cups with Dallas and Detroit before joining his father in the Hall of Fame in 2009.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)