Not much has gone wrong for the Winnipeg Jets and TNSE in the past month – save for maybe the Street Party scalping fiasco that they’ve pretty much botched – but amidst the joy of a game one Western Conference victory was a dark cloud that can not be ignored and as our friends Arctic ice Hockey tweeted last night: “There is never a bad time to call out someone who is a known abuser. Never.”
Bobby Hull is back in the forefront of a lot of Jets’ fans minds after he joined his fellow WHA-era Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place to take in game one of the Western Conference Final. It’s important to note that multiple members of that team were in attendance along with Hull’s fellow “Hot Line” linemates Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, so this wasn’t a case of the Jets or True North making a big deal out of having just Bobby Hull in attendance.
It may also be worth nothing that while other members of the team has Jets jerseys on, Hull did not. Was the a decision by Hull, or by TNSE who wanted to keep him at arm’s length? We won’t know.
At any rate, Bobby Hull being who he is, will end up front and center and get the majority of attention as he did Saturday night.
For the first time in nearly a decade, members of the @NHLJets’ famous ‘Hot Line’ have reunited in Winnipeg.
— NHL (@NHL) May 13, 2018
Multiple accounts from people who attended the game stated that ovation that Hull and the 77-78 WHA Jets received from fans in attendance didn’t nearly match that of the responses Dale Hawerchuk and Teemu Selanne received when they were welcomed back to Bell MTS Place in previous playoff games.
Bobby Hull’s place in the history of the sport and the history of the sport within the city of Winnipeg can not be argued. He was an incredible player on the ice and was a superstar for the Chicago Blackhawks. His million dollar arrival in 1972 gave the World Hockey Association instant credibility and helped make the city of Winnipeg a major league city long before it had a major league team.
Something else that can’t be argued is Bobby Hull at “best” is a man of questionable morals, has stated his support for Adolph Hitler and Nazis and while never officially charged, has been repeatedly accused of mental and physical abuse by multiple women.
Many article have been written about him and his past and are well worth reading if in somehow you’ve not heard of his sordid past or wonder what the ‘fuss’ is about.
Winnipeg has never had a reckoning with Bobby Hull. Fans of the team when he played for them have never had to deal with his awful off-ice behavior like they would have to now. There was a time when a famous person could do something horrible or hold horrible views, and no one would know unless the news deemed it worthy of being reported. Today, honoring those victimized in the time prior to internet availability is vital; it allows the ability to share victims’ stories, so people can understand the horrors committed against them.
- Arctic Ice Hockey: Bobby Hull and the Winnipeg Jets: It’s Complicated
But that’s partially because so few fans seem to be aware of Bobby Hull’s history. They don’t know that just a dozen years ago, Brett had openly discussed how his father ignored him as a kid. They don’t know that Bobby was convicted in 1987 of assaulting a police officer who tried to intervene in an argument with his then-wife Deborah. They don’t know about the history of domestic abuse, or that he told a newspaper in 1998 that “Hitler had some good ideas, he just went a little bit too far.”
At the end of the day, I’m not the person making the decision here. But if I’m sitting here, making a Hall of Fame to honour the past actions of players who played for an organization completely unrelated to my own outside of the brand name, to teach kids who don’t even remember the last NHL Jets about the history we are most proud of, I probably use every trick in the book to minimize mentions of Hull. He was a great player in a confusing time, but his origin story isn’t as meaningful as that of his linemates, and once you think beyond the walls of an arena that doesn’t even exist anymore, you’re looking at a person who is lucky to have not been inducted into a prison, let alone a Hall of Fame.
Bottom line… Bobby Hull is not to be celebrated, nor is there any real legitimate reason for True North Sports and Entertainment to continue to bring him in and show him off as some proud supporter or any type of ambassador of the current day Jets.
Many would like to argue that his on-ice accomplishments and play can still be honored, but we’re not talking about two separate men here. The man on the ice is the same man off it and to try and separate the two is simply wrong.
The man is free to come and go to events as he pleases. The only thing that would be nicer than having TNSE refrain from ever inviting him as part of any Jets related events, would be for the man himself to decline any of those invites and willingly live out the rest of his days quietly away from any spotlight and let his hockey career become a footnote in history – something he himself already got a good start on doing the moment he started physically and verbally abusing women.
But he continues to show his face at these events, so as long as he continues to do so, it’s worth repeating that Bobby Hull is not worthy of any celebration or fanfare and the reasons why should follow him as closely as the Jets and Blackhawks franchises seem to want to keep him.