Forgotten Blueshirts: Bobby Hull’s very brief Rangers career

When you think Bobby Hull, what comes to your mind? Hall of Famer? Chicago Blackhawks? Winnipeg Jets? Curved stick? Ask yourself this question. Are you done yet? Excellent, because it is with the utmost certainty that not many recall that the Golden Jet was a member of the New York Rangers.

Time with Rangers – 5 exhibition games in September 1981

In 15 seasons with the Blackhawks, Hull scored 1170 points, part of that being 610 goals, placing himself third among all National Hockey League goal-scorers at the time Hull decided to make a comeback in 1981. In seven seasons with Winnipeg, then in the WHA, he lit up the league by putting up 638 points, including 303 goals, in 411 games.

Knocked down by injuries and age, Hull played only a few games in the WHA’s final season of 1978–79. However, after the  WHA/NHL merger (Jets, Oilers, Nordiques, Whalers would be absorbed into the NHL),  Hull came out of retirement to play once more for the Jets. He played in eighteen games before being traded to the Whalers for future considerations and played well in nine games and three playoff games before leaving the game once more to care for a friend who had been injured in a car accident.

The Golden Ranger

In the book “100 Things Rangers Fans Should Know Before They Die”, authors Adam Raider and Russ Cohen recounted the tale of how Bobby Hull came to be a Ranger. It all began when Herb Brooks learned of an interview where the retired Hull said he’d consider a return if he could play with his old Jets linemates, Ulf Nilsson and Andersson Hedberg who were now in NY. That’s all Brooks needed to hear and Hull was invited to camp.

But Hull, who is 42 years old now and has not played hockey since the spring of 1980, when he left the New England Whalers, was clearly trying to make the Rangers as eagerly as any rookie. In today’s scrimmage, he played with abandon and sustained a cut from a stick over his left eye. “Look at him out there,” said Brooks. ”He’s happy to be here. He’s youthful, psychologically.”

James F. Clarity/NY Times

Unfortunately, it was a brief attempt that only lasted five exhibition games before Hull and the Rangers both mutually decided it was best to end this comeback. Hull had one goal, and one assist in those five games. Just imagine if Hull had worked out and made the team. He would have been on a line with Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg and I’m positive that if Hull had reached into the fountain of youth and tapped into his old scoring ways, the Rangers could’ve had something special. One can dream.

Article originally done by Johnluke Chaparro was used for this updated post.

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Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

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