Blackhawks part ways with Bobby Hull as ambassador in wise, overdue move
Hull’s ugly history of domestic abuse and racism long has overshadowed his impressive on-ice legacy.
The Blackhawks’ housecleaning has swept legendary former player-turned-ambassador Bobby Hull out the door, too.
Hull and the Hawks mutually parted ways earlier this season, the team announced Monday, and it’s not hard to figure out the impetus for that decision.
‘‘We’re redefining the role of team ambassador — which unfortunately comes on the heels of losing two very special members of that family,’’ the Hawks said in a statement. ‘‘When it comes to Bobby specifically, we jointly agreed earlier this season that he will retire from any official team role.’’
Stan Mikita’s death in 2018, Tony Esposito’s death in 2021 and Hull’s departure leave only Chris Chelios and Denis Savard as Hawks ambassadors at the moment.
Hull’s history of off-ice behavior — including rampant allegations of domestic abuse and racism — has overshadowed his impressive on-ice legacy for decades, making his continued ambassadorship a black eye for the organization.
Hull was named an ambassador in 2008 — well after those allegations had surfaced — suggesting the Hawks didn’t care about them until now.
But with CEO Danny Wirtz and business president Jaime Faulkner bringing fresh perspectives and a new culture of accountability to the Hawks as they seek to move the franchise into modern times in the wake of the Kyle Beach sexual-assault scandal, removing Hull was a no-brainer.
Hull was convicted in 1987 of assaulting a police officer who intervened in an argument between Hull and then-wife Deborah. A mini-documentary by ESPN in 2002 included his previous wife, Joanne, recounting a fight in which Hull beat her in the head with a steel-heeled shoe, then held her off a balcony in Hawaii.
Hull’s daughter, Michelle, who became a defense lawyer for female abuse victims, also detailed Hull’s history of alcoholism in that documentary.
In 1997, a Russian publication quoted Hull as saying that, ‘‘Hitler had some good ideas,’’ claiming that the Black population was growing too fast and expressing his support for genetic breeding. Hull denied the comments and sued the publication at the time.
Those controversies have retroactively cast a dark shadow over Hull’s prolific playing career, which earned his lasting nickname ‘‘The Golden Jet.’’
Hull, a two-time Hart Trophy winner as the NHL’s most valuable player, a three-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL’s leading points-getter and a seven-time league leader in goals, spent the first two-thirds of his lengthy career with the Hawks before jumping to the World Hockey Association with the Jets. Hull had 1,153 points in 1,036 games for the Hawks between 1957 and 1972, then another 638 points in 411 WHA games before retiring in 1980.
His statue still stands, alongside Mikita’s, outside the United Center on Madison Street, and that’s probably not going anywhere in the near future — although the old Hawks statue across the street that was vandalized by Native American mascot protestors in 2020 seemingly has been removed permanently.
Hull presumably no longer will appear at Hawks promotional events and such, as he previously did at the annual Hawks Convention and Winter Classic games.
As the Hawks begin the long process of repairing their image in the Chicago sports community, this small move represents an encouraging step in the right direction.
NOTE: The Hawks sent forwards Brett Connolly and Josiah Slavin to Rockford of the American Hockey League on Saturday and Monday, respectively.
Top prospect Lukas Reichel will stay up for this week of NHL practice but likely will be sent down before the Hawks’ game Friday against the Devils.