Saturday, November 19, 2011
Playing his career in the shadow of his older brother and teammate Bobby Hull, Dennis Hull was born on this date in 1944.
Dennis and Bobby Hull
Hull played junior hockey with the St. Catharines Teepees of the Ontario Hockey League beginning in the 1960-61 season and gave no indication of what was to follow with two seasons of 10 and 18 points. The team became sponsored by the Chicago Black Hawks in 1962 and thus became the St. Catharines Black Hawks. In 1962-63 Hull raised his point total to 48 before impressing the following season with 48 goals and 97 points, doubling his total from the previous season.
He made the Chicago roster in 1964-65 and saw action in 55 games, scoring 10 goals as a rookie. The club determined he needed some additional seasoning in 1965-66, and Hull was sent to the minors for 40 games with the St. Louis Braves. He also played 25 games with Chicago that season, but his lone goal raised cause for concern.
Those fears were calmed in 1966-67 when he played in all 70 games, scoring 25 goals and 42 points. Two seasons later Hull registered his first 30 goal season. The only problem for Dennis was that Bobby was in his 12th season for the Black Hawks, had ten seasons of 30 goals or more and scored an NHL record 58 goals that same season. Such was life for Dennis Hull in the NHL.
Dennis had a very good 1970-71 season, setting a career high in goals with 40 and nearly catching Bobby, who had 44 while now having been paired with Pit Martin and Jim Pappin on the "MPH Line", which came from the trio's last initials. The team also excelled, making a playoff run that would take them to the first Stanley Cup Finals in Dennis' career.
For their final season as teammates, Dennis had his third 30 goal season and set a new personal best with 69 points. For 1972-73, the hockey world was turned on it's ear with the arrival of the World Hockey Association, who made Bobby their marquee attraction by signing him away from the Black Hawks by virtue of a million dollar contract.
This defection resulted in Bobby being blacklisted from the Team Canada roster for the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, despite his undoubted offensive capabilities. Dennis though, was still a member of the NHL and became part of Team Canada, at the urging of his brother following Dennis' thoughts of boycotting the series in support of Bobby. Dennis was paired with New York Ranger teammates Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert, and scored two goals and four points in the four games he played in.
With the 50 goal scorer Bobby now out of the lineup, everyone feared what the impact would be on the Black Hawks, but the MPH Line stepped up to fill the void, and all three players hitting at least 90 points and raising their previous season total by a minimum of 21 which saw Dennis Hull score 39 goals and set a career high with 90 points. That season, Chicago would again return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second time in Hull's career.
The 1972-73 Chicago Blackhawks
In 1973-74, Hull would play in 74 games, his eighth consecutive season of 70 games or more, a streak broken the following season when he played in "just" 69 games. He followed that with playing 80 and then 75 in his final two seasons with the Black Hawks. In all, he would play 824 games out of a possible 848 games once he established himself as a regular with the club 11 seasons earlier, a rate of 97% for the model of reliability and consistency he, and the MPH Line, provided the Black Hawks.
Hull was acquired by the Detroit Red Wings for the 1977-78 season, his final one before retiring as a player.
His final NHL totals are 959 games played with 3030 goals and 351 assists for 654 points and he would appear in six NHL All-Star Games, including the 1974 version with linemates Martin and Pappin.
Known for his outgoing personality and sense of humor, he wrote a book entitled (in reference to his nephew and Bobby's offensively gifted son Brett Hull) "The Third Best Hull - I would have been fourth best but they wouldn't let my sister Maxine play."
Bobby, Brett and Dennis Hull
Today's featured jersey is a 1972-73 Chicago Black Hawks Dennis Hull jersey as worn during Hull's career year when he played for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series and then went on to the best season of his NHL career with 90 points.
The Black Hawks adopted this jersey style in 1955 and it has become an icon in the world of hockey, remaining essentially unchanged for over 55 years.
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions
Today's video section begins with highlights of the MPH Line in action.
Hull has gone on to a career as a public and motivational speaker, and here he is telling some of his humorous stories.
Here are highlights of Game 6 of the 1972 Summit Series, in which Hulls scores a goal for Team Canada.
Finally, a pair of intertwined interviews from WGN TV in Chicago, hosted by long time Cubs announcer Jack Brickhouse. Bobby clearly got the better background for his interview...