Former Hawks player Dennis Hull highlights Gary Old Timers banquet
By John MUTKA Post-Tribune senior correspondent January 8, 2014 11:00PM
Former Chicago Blackhawk Dennis Hull autographs hockey puck for a fan during the 68th annual Gary Old Timers banquet held at Avalon Manor in Hobart on Wednesday January 8, 2014. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 10, 2014 12:00PM
HOBART — They called him the Silver Jet.
Dennis Hull doesn’t show a trace of envy about dwelling in the shadow of his older brother, Bobby, the Golden Jet.
When the Blackhawks owned Chicago and the Bulls were barely an after-thought, they starred from 1964-72.
His line including center Pit Martin and right winger Jim Pappin, Dennis Hull scored 138 goals in a four-year stretch (1970-74), but Bobby dominated the headlines until he bolted for Winnipeg and the WHA in 1973.
No reason to be jealous?
“Oh, no, not at all,” Dennis Hull said Wednesday at the 68th annual Gary Old Timers banquet. “Bobby was better than everybody else. He wasn’t just better than me.”
In the 1970-71 season the power-packed pair slap shot their way to a combined 84 goals. With Dennis accounting for a career-high 40 the Hawks dominated the West Division.
“The problem is I had the same name and people sometimes expected me to live up to Bobby’s standards,” Hull said. “I wasn’t. Nobody was.”
The pressure could have been overwhelming, but Hull credits coach Bill Reay with keeping the stress to a minimum.
“He knew how to treat everybody and he was like a father to me,” Hull said. “I was just 19 when I got here and had a lot of learning to do.”
In dealing with outside influences Hull needed to develop a thick skin to survive. He persevered for 14 seasons, scoring 303 goals from 1964-77.
“Like not taking the fans seriously,” he said. “Just concentrating on doing my best.”
That came in 1971, when most of the hockey world was expecting the Hawks to meet Boston in the Stanley Cup finals. Armed with MVP Bobby Orr and scoring champion Phil Esposito, the Bruins cakewalked to the East Division title.
“We wanted to meet Boston,” said Hull.
Montreal, which finished a distant third to the Bruins in the regular season, ousted them in the opening round. It took seven games, but winning game two was the key for the Canadiens. They scored five goals in the third period to win 7-5.
In the finals the Hawks took a 2-0 lead and still led the series 3-2, but the Flying Frenchmen won the last two, overcoming a 2-0 lead in game seven behind Henri Richard, who scored two goals in the 3-2 series-ending victory.
Asked about it, Hull laughed good-naturedly. “You’re ruining my day,” he said. “I remember it like it was yesterday.”
Danny O’Shea and Dennis Hull scored first-period goals for the Hawks.
“Bobby hit the crossbar and Jimmy Pappin missed the open net or it would have been 4-0,” Hull said. “It’s not like we were playing the Oakland Seals. Montreal knew how to win.
“We played 21 games against them, 14 in the regular season and seven in the playoffs. We won 10, they won 11.”
Hull is no longer connected with hockey, but raises cattle. He has a herd of 80 back in Ontario. One of 12 children — four boys — he learned the value of hard work early in life.
Someone suggested he didn’t seem to be missing any teeth, unlike many of his hockey brethren, but he’s had his share of injuries.
“Broken collarbone ... I’ve got a new knee,” said Hull.
Over the years he’s kept his sense of humor. Life after hockey has been fruitful.
Hull graduated from Brock University with a degree in history and physical education, taught history at Ridley College and served as athletic director at IIT. He also authored a book, entitled “The Third Best Hull.”
In 2005 he was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Not a bad resume for someone who dwelled in his older brother’s shadow.