Monday, 2 November 2015

TBC: The Third Best Hull

There are very few on the planet who don't know the name "Hull". Bobby Hull was a pioneer in the hockey world, perfecting the slapshot off the wing and breaking tradition by walking away from the NHL for a massive contract in the WHA. Hull is still an icon in the city of Chicago where he now serves as team ambassador. Another Hull got famous in the American midwest when the St. Louis Blues traded for Brett Hull, and his transformation into one of the games' most feared snipers drew comparisons to the goal-scoring talents of his father, Bobby. The third member of the Hull family was also a capable goal scorer, and he's really found his niche as a speaker in his time after the game. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review The Third Best Hull, written by Dennis Hull with Robert Thompson and published by ECW Press. Having seen Dennis Hull speak at an event in real-life, I could hear Dennis' voice as I read through this book and laughed at the self-deprecating humour he brought to the pages.

Dennis Hull is the brother of Bobby Hull and the uncle of Brett Hull, but he was a very accomplished hockey player. He played with Bobby as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks for eight seasons, and played a total of 14 NHL seasons with the final season coming in Detroit Red Wings' colours. He was a member of the Canadian team in the 1972 Summit Series, and played in several Stanley Cup Finals in his career. Born in Pointe Anne, Ontario in 1944, Hull now does a number of speaking appearances each year that have made him one of the most demanded icons for events!

Robert Thompson is a best-selling author and award-winning reporter who lives in London, Ontario. In 2001, Robert was nominated as Accenture's Business Journalist of the Year and CATA's Technology Reporter of the Year. In 2009 and 2010, he won multiple awards through the Golf Journalists Association of Canada. He and Ron Joyce collaborated on Always Fresh: The Untold Story of Tim Hortons by the Man who Created a Canadian Empire which finished high on the Globe & Mail's non-fiction bestseller list. His credentials speak for themselves, and he's been published multiple times across several sports.

The Third Best Hull is all about Dennis Hull's life from his days as wee tyke in Pointe Anne right through to today. Hull documents his time walking six miles to practices as a youngster in the middle of winter just to play hockey. Hull speaks of his time with the St. Catherines Blackhawks and his junior career. He speaks of teammates, coaches, opponents, and management, and he does it all with his humourous take on the world.

It was revealed in The Third Best Hull that Dennis actually had a hard time playing in Chicago due to the fan's treatment of him. Getting a second Hull on the roster apparently made fans believe they were getting a second Bobby Hull on the roster despite Dennis' solid play in other areas of the game. Because of this, Dennis actually played better on the road where he felt more comfortable!

I am very impressed with the fact that Dennis Hull went back to school after retiring from the NHL! He became the first Hull to graduate from university after wanting to teach in his post-NHL career, and enrolled and graduated from Brock University. He went on to teach at Illinois Institute of Chicago where he took over the sports program, and he spent eight years there from 1982 to 1990! Needless to say, Dennis Hull has a lifetime of experiences and stories in The Third Best Hull.

To give you an idea of the humour that Mr. Hull injects into his stories, one of my favorite passages from The Third Best Hull reads as follows,
I one spoke at a golf tournament run by Wayne Gretzky's dad, Walter. Walter had an aneurism in the early nineties and he used to run a tournament to raise money for the hospital in Hamilton, Ontario, that treated him.

Before the speech, Walter had told me that he had lost his memory and couldn't remember things from 1970 until 1990. He was starting to gain some of his memory back, but there was still a 20-year period he couldn't recall.

Wayne and Walter were sitting down front and I started my speech.

"It's great to be here with the greatest hockey player who has ever lived," I said. "But it's unfortunate, due to memory loss, that you can't remember 1973, Walter. That's the year I scored 60 goals."

"I might not remember," Walter yelled from the audience, "but I'm not stupid."
For not knowing much about Dennis Hull's career, I have to say that The Third Best Hull is a great look inside the life of one of the Blackhawks' legends. While Bobby's struggles have been well-documented in his retirement, Dennis Hull has done more after hockey than he did while playing. He has a beautiful family, a great public speaking career, he was a teacher, he graduated from university, and he even worked in a little play-by-play for an NHL team! I was unaware of a lot of this, and Dennis Hull tells the stories from his life and career like only he can. I often found myself laughing out loud at his tales, making The Third Best Hull a sure-fire recipient of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

You can find The Third Best Hull at your local bookstore or library as its publishing date was most recently in 2013. It's definitely worth your time. If you have a chance to see Mr. Dennis Hull at an event, settle in for a lot of laughs and some great stories from one of the best public speakers you'll ever see.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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