Bobby Hull honored by legendary goalies for intimidating shot, presence

“I was making a buck an hour,” goaltending legend Glenn Hall joked Monday evening from his farm in Stony Plain, Alberta. “I had to make a living and it’s all I knew.”

So Hall figures it must have been for that reason that for a decade, from 1957-67, he stood unmasked in the Chicago Black Hawks net in practices and pregame warmups and faced the shot that struck fear in the heart of every other goalie in the NHL.

Hall and fellow Hockey Hall of Famers Gerry Cheevers and Bernie Parent each had special memories of Bobby Hull to share Monday, “The Golden Jet’s” death at age 84 having been announced earlier in the day.

“Bobby was so strong, he had such a great shot,” Hall said. “I used to get upset with him in warmup when he had to pick the top corners. Well, in order to do that, he had to go over my shoulders. Bobby had a terrible shot … terrible if you were a goalkeeper.”

Glenn Hall (left) and Bobby Hull in the Chicago Black Hawks dressing room on March 4, 1966. Getty Images

The 91-year-old known as “Mr. Goalie,” whose 502 consecutive games is an NHL record that should stand forever, won the 1961 Stanley Cup championship with Hull, the brilliant forward whose friendship he forever cherished. 

He just didn’t cherish as much the fact that his general manager, Tommy Ivan, and coaches, Rudy Pilous then Billy Reay, saw nothing wrong with pushing their goalie into the net against Hull and Stan Mikita, another curved-stick pioneer, whose blistering shots would leave welts that lasted for months.

“Management was terrible. They couldn’t have been worse for a goalkeeper,” Hall said. “They had no idea that it was difficult to stay alive. I had great reflexes. I could dance and get away from Bobby and Stan’s shots, but not all of them.

“Gordie Howe could do everything. In my opinion, he was the greatest ever. I played with Gordie (for the Detroit Red Wings) and against him (for Chicago and the St. Louis Blues). I’ll tell you, it was a lot easier to play with Gordie, and Bobby, than against them.”

The 1961 Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Black Hawks. Glenn Hall is in the front row, far left; Bobby Hull is third from far right. Le Studio du hockey/Hockey Hall of Fame

Hall signed with the Blues in 1968-69, facing Chicago’s Hull five times through the 1969-70 season. He would surrender five goals to the Golden Jet as an opponent.

“Five goals?” Hall said, chuckling. “I’m sure that’s complimentary.”

Cheevers gave up 24 goals to Hull in 28 games between 1961-62 and 1979-80 playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, Hull for Chicago and the Hartford Whalers.

But let the record show that the first time they faced each other, Cheevers’ first NHL game in emergency relief of an injured Johnny Bower on Dec. 2, 1961, he stopped all of Hull’s game-high eight shots in a 6-4 Toronto win.

It was five days before Cheevers’ 21st birthday.

“The next night we went to Detroit and the first shot that Gordie Howe took broke my stick in half,” he said, laughing, from his home in Florida. “I thought, ‘Boy, this is a tough league.'”

Howe would earn assists on each of Norm Ullman’s three goals in a 3-1 Red Wings victory.

Gerry Cheevers, age 20, with Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Dick Duff before the start of the 1961-62 season. Turofsky/Hockey Hall of Fame

“The first time you faced Bobby was sort of exciting, in the wrong way,” Cheevers said. “He was the best shooter in hockey, a power shooter. It became worse when his brother, Dennis, arrived (with Chicago in 1964-65). Bobby didn’t scare me as much as Dennis. Bobby usually scored. You had no idea where Dennis was going to shoot.”

Cheevers remembers the big picture of the Golden Jet, whom he believes was perfect for that era of the NHL and tailor-made for Chicago Stadium, his blazing speed scorching a rink surface that was 15 feet shorter than the now-regulation 200 feet.

“Bobby was an exciting player, to say the least,” Cheevers said. “He had flair and charisma, a great smile, he had a bunch of that stuff. And he had the luxury of playing in sort of a condensed rink.

“He was a pioneer, like Ted Lindsay was in the creation of the NHL Players’ Association. When Bobby made the move to the World Hockey Association (signing a historic $1 million contract with the fledgling league’s Winnipeg Jets in 1972-73), that was to me one of the most important things in the game of hockey. 

“If he wouldn’t have made the move, I know I wouldn’t have gone (signing that year with the Cleveland Crusaders) and a lot of guys wouldn’t have gone. There might not have been a league. The WHA created a big-league atmosphere for hundreds of players who might not have had it with the NHL. Bobby, and the WHA, gave a lot of guys the chance to play.”

Gerry Cheevers in 1968, the year that Bobby Hull scored his 400th NHL goal against the Boston Bruins goalie. Lewis Portnoy/Hockey Hall of Fame

Among the 28 goals Cheevers yielded to Hull was the latter’s milestone 400th, scored in Chicago’s 4-2 victory against Boston on Jan. 7, 1968. The goalie recalls having his hand nearly torn off by Hull’s second period shot; the left wing took 10 of the Black Hawks’ 32.

And he had a front-row seat to Hull’s 401st, scored into an empty net with 15 seconds to play. With captain Pierre Pilote serving a tripping penalty and the Black Hawks clinging to a 3-2 lead, Bruins coach Harry Sinden pulled Cheevers for a sixth skater against their opponent’s four.

“Bobby came down the right side, his off wing, for some reason, and I’m standing on the bench,” Cheevers recalled, “so I just reached out with my stick and hooked him as he went by.”

Hull regained possession of the puck and scored No. 401, referee Vern Buffey calling for an automatic goal regardless of Cheevers’ infraction.

“Thank God that Bobby had scored his 400th earlier,” the 82-year-old said, laughing again. “Being awarded No. 400 automatically after having been hooked by a goalie who was on the bench wouldn’t have been a very nice way to get it. We joked about that for years.”

Indeed, Hull forever said that he remembered his 401st NHL goal much more than his milestone 400th.

Boston Bruins rookie Bernie Parent in 1965-66, and with Bobby Hull at collectibles show in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in July 2022, the last time the two Hall of Famers met. James McCarthy/Hockey Hall of Fame; Gini Parent

Parent was a 20-year-old Bruins farmhand Nov. 3, 1965, when he was a called up for his first NHL game, both Cheevers and Eddie Johnston injured. The Montreal native arrived at Chicago Stadium from Oklahoma City of the Central league with a hint, but no real idea, of what was in store.

“My vision was to play in the NHL but with Gerry and Eddie, the Bruins sent me to the minors,” Parent said from his winter home in Florida. “Then I get the call to come to Chicago. I see this big guy — Bobby Hull — coming across the blue line, hitting the face-off circle with a big smile on his face. I swear that a couple of times his shot hit the glass so hard that Glenn Hall had to make the save at the other end of the rink.”

Parent made 42 saves in a 2-2 tie. Hull didn’t score on his five shots, “and I’ve never been the same since,” the goalie joked. “I might not sleep tonight just thinking about it.”

Parent gave up 15 goals against Hull, playing for the Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Maple Leafs.

“It could have been 16. I must have made a heck of a save somewhere,” said the 77-year-old back-to-back Stanley Cup champion, Vezina Trophy winner and Conn Smythe Trophy recipient for the Flyers in 1974 and 1975.

Bernie Parent skates into action for an Alumni game before the 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Len Redkoles/Getty Images

“I’m lucky to be alive. Before the games, my defensemen would tell me, ‘Everyone will take a man, but Bobby is all yours.’ I’d put one glove over my face, the other over my (nether regions) and ask God to let him score. True story. 

“You don’t get scared when you’re older, but when I look back, thinking of wearing a thin pretzel mask and challenging this guy… let me just say that I didn’t have too many screened shots because the shooting lane was wide open. No one would try to block Bobby’s shot.”

Parent last saw Hull at an Atlantic City Convention Center collectibles show last July. Largely in a wheelchair with his health in decline, Hull was in the back of the hall when he heard that Parent was on his way.

“Bobby asked to have me come back to spend some private time together,” Parent said. “He told me that day that he loved me. The feeling was very mutual. Bobby was just a great, great player, such a powerful player. He was so good for hockey.”

Top image: Glenn Hall and Bobby Hull in action for the Chicago Black Hawks during a 1966 game at Madison Square Garden. Frank Prazak/Hockey Hall of Fame

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