A Few Brief Notes of Tribute from Doug Draper
Posted January 30the, 2023 on Niagara At Large
Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when I was still a wee little kid growing up in Welland, I was lucky enough to live in a neighbourhood where we still had woods and fields with ice ponds to skate on this time of year, and a street where we could play road hockey without having to worry very much about being hit by a car.
There were still only six teams in the National Hockey League back then and every Saturday night two of them would show up on ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ and dazzle us on a television screen.
As much as I did not go on to follow hockey as it became more of a spectacle of players punching each other until there was blood on the ice, in those days, for many young kids growing up in Canada, the players on those six teams – the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadians, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Chicago Black Hawks – were our sports heroes.
There was, just to name a few, Gordie Howe, Frank Mahovlich, Davie Keon, Bobby Orr, Frank Beliveau, Rocket Richard, and the list went on and on.
And there was also that blonde-hair gladiator on the ice, who was one of the greatest goal scorers (the first to score more than 50 in one season) and went on to be a Hockey Hall of Famer, Bobby Hull.
Bobby Hull, a star with the Chicago Black Hawks, died , who played for the Chicago Black Hawks – a team that once gathered in St. Catharines/Niagara pre-season, and
Bobby Hull died this January 30th at age 84.
There may still be many people out there in Niagara who were fortunate enough to see Bobby Hull on ice or meet him briefly when he and his team were doing their pre-season warm-ups at that arena in St. Catharines.
The closest I ever got was when one of Bobby Hull’s equally iconic team makes from the Black Hawks, Stan Mikita, the late great Stan Mikitia, came in to my father’s store on St. Paul Street in St. Catharines, where, among other things, electronic gadgets could be repaired.
Mikita dropped off his electric razor so I knew he would be coming back to pick it up. I was a teenager with making a little money by then so quickly went out and bought this high-end hockey stick that I asked my dad to have Mikita sign, which he did.
But stupid me, and I was one of those stupid teenagers that did a lot of things back then that left me with a long list of regrets.
One of them was to take that stick out and play a game with it at the Welland Arena . … And of course, the stick broke. I tried to keep the piece of the stick that Stan Mikita signed but it disappeared a long time ago.
That was my last close encounter with the team Bobby Hull played on.
Here is to the passing of one of Canada’s legendary sports heroes.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
(A Footnote from Doug Draper – It is too bad the late great sports editor and writer for the late, great St. Catharines Standard – the newspaper the Burgoyne family then owned- is not here to write an obituary on Bobby Hull. I would love to read it. I was honroued to have once worked in the same newsroom as Jack Gatecliff. In our own ways, he and I and may others jumped from a sinking ship that once was one of the best mid-size newspapers in the country. RI.P.)
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I met Bobby Hull a number of years ago at an event in Toronto. I asked him, “How’s the slapshot”? He replied, “I couldn’t break a pane of glass”!
He was very approachable, and signed a couple of sticks for my nephews.
RIP, Bobby. Condolences to the Hull family.