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The Verdict: Hull's special delivery, four decades in the making

by Bob Verdi / Chicago Blackhawks
Seeing Bobby Hull mobbed by Blackhawks fans, and him giving time to each one, was a regular occurence in the 1960's (Archive Photo).

Bobby Hull was leaving the United Center after watching the Blackhawks play early last month when a fan asked “The Golden Jet” for a favor.

“He had a letter he wanted me to open,” recalled the Hall of Fame ambassador. “He said he had written it to me and waited for a response until he realized it had never been sent. And he wrote it 43 years ago!”

The man in the Blackhawks sweater who delivered the mail was Ivan Daku, who first told the story to his hometown newspaper, the Regina Leader Post. According to Daku, he sat down when he was 10 years old in 1971, authored the note and gave it to his mother, Julia.

Apparently, she tucked it away in a safe place. After she passed away in 2006, the letter was discovered among her possessions.

“I looked at it, and it had never been opened,” Daku said. “I showed it to my boys back home. They wanted me to open it up, but I decided to put it in the closet. It’s been in my house back in Regina where we found it. And I wasn’t going to take it with me anywhere until we went to Chicago.”

Daku and three friends—Rick Kayter, Paul Romanow and Mike Globisch—make an annual excursion to Original Six cities. They’ve been to Montreal and New York. This year, it was time for them—and the letter—to visit Chicago.

Dear Bobby,

I like your style of play. I think you play better than Brad Park. Please, could you send me some tips on left wing. And a picture and autograph of you.

Your fan,

Ivan Daku

That’s how the letter read, but what were the chances that it would ever reach its intended recipient? Actually, quite good. Bobby Hull was a great ambassador for the National Hockey League, decades before he ever earned that title from the franchise for which he starred over 15 years. When a team bus was tardy leaving a rink or an airport, it invariably was because Hull insisted on accommodating every fan, regardless of the size of his adoring crowds.

“I felt it was part of my job to give back to the fans,” Hull said. “Whether in person or not. I tried to make a point of answering every piece of fan mail I got at the old Stadium, and I still feel the same way.”

Daku had heard of Hull’s reputation. Thus, the puzzle about why there was no return letter.

“When I finally met Bobby after the game [on April 6 vs. St. Louis] and explained what happened,” Daku went on, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit emotional when he took it. My heart stood still for a second. It took 43 years to get the letter in his hands. The whole thing was kind of magical.”

Hull graciously posed for pictures with Daku and friends, then signed autographs. The legend grows.

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