Sunday, 2 January 2011

TBC: The Golden Jet

The man to the left? Hockey legend. Chicago icon. Hall-of-Fame left winger. All three terms, plus many more, could be used to describe Bobby Hull. While the man's public life was certainly larger-than-life, his private life seemingly was kept guarded as he let his play on the ice do most of the talking. Thankfully, a new book has begun to pull back the curtains on Mr. Robert Marvin Hull as his life is examined in photographs in The Golden Jet, written by Bobby Hull and Bob Verdi, and published by Triumph Books. There are literally hundreds of photographs in this book of the big winger throughout his playing career, and some are fascinating in terms of what they show. That much being said, the pictures of Bobby Hull show just how fascinating this man is, and why he became the hockey icon that he is.

The story starts on January 3, 1939 when Robert Marvin Hull is born in Point Anne, Ontario as the fifth of what would eventually be eleven Hull kids. His father, Robert Hull Senior, worked for the Canada Cement Company, and played hockey for the plant and in a senior men's hockey league. Just as Bobby Hull would turn out to be, Robert Hull was an imposing figure on the ice with his large frame.

Bobby quickly learned to skate with the help of his sisters, Laura and Barbara, and would often be out on the outdoor rink owned by the Canada Cement Company all day and into the night, stopping only for meals. Like most children from his generation, Bobby was assigned chores to do by his parents, and Bobby would have them done by six or seven o'clock in the morning so that he could spend all day on the rink. He carried water for his mother, shoveled snow around the neighbourhood, and chopped wood as part of his daily routine, as well as walking several miles to school every day. Bobby's muscular figure began to develop early thanks to these work-intensive activities.

Under his father's direction on the ice, Bobby learned the important skills that made him such a dominating hockey player: stickhandling, shooting, skating, and protecting the puck. As he developed and began scoring at amazing paces through various league, a Chicago Blackhawks' scout heard of Bobby's exploits. Bob Wilson made the trek to Point Anne, Ontario where he signed Bobby Hull, with his family's permission, as a 13 year-old as a player under the control of the Blackhawks.

From the jumping point, we break into the vast treasure trove of images inside the book. There are small captions and little bits of info about each picture, and the images are literally worth a thousand words. One of the earliest pictures in the book is of Bobby tangling with Jean BĂ©liveau of the Montreal Canadiens in 1957. The caption includes some info about the game and who is in the picture before this is written - "Another wardrobe note:when I came up the numbers were above the tomahawk on the sleeve. Later, that was reversed". How cool is that? Bobby Hull was a Uni Watch member back in the late-1950s!

There were a number of shots in The Golden Jet that can be found on the Internet, but there were a significant amount that I had never seen before. The one thing that I did find interesting, though, is that for a book named "The Golden Jet", there are absolutely no pictures of him in the book as a Winnipeg Jet! For a man who brought instant credibility to the WHA and the Winnipeg Jets with his million-dollar signing, perhaps the name of this book is slightly misleading. In no part of The Golden Jet do we find pictures of the Golden Jet.

I found that slightly disappointing, especially when you consider all of the accolades he amassed as a member of the Winnipeg Jets and the WHA. However, after reading through the credits, one finds that this book is copyrighted by the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Team. And there's the reason why this is a book about Hull's time with the Blackhawks, and no other teams are represented by Hull.

That being known, The Golden Jet is still well worth the money spent on it, and there are a ton of old photographs that will surely make you smile if you love hockey history. There are so many great images that just the pictures would be worth the selling price alone. To make things even better, the book comes with a DVD produced by Blackhawks TV featuring highlights, interviews, TV commercials, and behind-the-scenes clips from the Blackhawks' video library! So not only do you get the stills of Hull's greatest moments, but you also get some live-action shots of Hull's greatest achievements as well!

Overall, The Golden Jet is very enjoyable to read, and the DVD features bring the package together nicely. While I would have loved to see at least a few WHA moments whereby the Golden Jet got his name, this Chicago Blackhawks production is certainly well-worth the money, and definitely deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval! Pick up The Golden Jet at your local bookstore today!

Happy birthday, Mr. Hull, as I'm sure you'll be celebrating tomorrow! May the good times keep on rolling for you!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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