As the epic battles between Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe reached their zenith in the 1950s, another superstar arrived in the same stratosphere. Bobby Hull - hockey's Golden Jet - was every bit as good as his counterpart #9s. In fact, he was kind of a hybrid of the two. He had Howe's size and strength, and Richard's flare for the dramatic.
But, for a variety of reasons, Hull's lasting legacy does not measure up with the likes of Howe or Richard or Orr or Jean Beliveau. Instead he is painted as a more dastardly character. His key role in jumping to the WHA ruffled many feathers, leaving him estranged for decades with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team he is most associated with and won the Stanley Cup with. The Wirtz family, owners of the team, held a deep grudge and did what ever they could to keep Bobby out. Of course the narcissistic Bobby also has himself to blame in his tainted legacy, thanks to a very messy and very public divorce (Tiger Woods could relate) that swirled with domestic violence.
Gare Joyce offers a look at one of hockey's greatest players in The Devil and Bobby Hull: How Hockey's Original Million-Dollar Man Became the Game's Lost Legend. As Joyce says, "the world of hockey glory was his to lose. And he did."
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Bobby Hull ranks as one of hockey's most important figures ever. On the ice he had few equals, and remains one of the top ten players of all time. His records and brilliance are truly rarefied. His off ice contributions are every bit as important. By taking his stand against the NHL and jumping to the WHA, Hull became a millionaire, but a huge cost. He also made a lot of other hockey players rich, as his stand directly led to the spike in player salaries. Every player from the 1970s forward owes Bobby Hull a debt of gratitude.
Author Gare Joyce does a good job in building up the case for Hull as arguably hockey's greatest figure. But the he goes on to cover Hull's demise, but does not do it in a tabloidish manner which is much appreciated. With the estrangement from the Hawks and the bitter and public divorce, Hull never really recovered his golden boy image. That hurt Hull in many ways. In the aftermath of all this the author goes on to paint Hull as a tragic character, a shadow of the legend he once was.
This is a book that very much should be considered for your reading list. It is a well rounded unauthorized biography (though Hull is prominently interviewed) of one hockey's greatest yet most tragic figures.