When I was 12 years old, I was already in the habit of reading the sports page when the parents would leave it somewhere around the house. Since my parents still do not subscribe to cable, I had to pursue more conventional means to follow sports. No Sports Radio in 1984. No iPhones.
Anyway, I clearly remember reading about my Wisconsin Badgers and their upcoming weekend, against the always tricky Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in a weekend set at the Dane County Coliseum. The Bulldogs had two players who the Badgers had to worry about on the weekend: Bill Watson and Bobby Hull's son.
Watson was an amazing player who dominated the WCHA that year and the year before. In 1984-85, he scored an absurd 49-60-109 in 46 games and won the Hobey Baker award. If you were to expect anyone from that team to find their way to the Hockey Hall of Fame, I think the smart money might have been on Watson. He played just over 100 games for the Chicago Blackhawks in the late 1980's and disappeared.
His teammate, known that weekend as "Bobby Hull's son" was the guy I was interested in. Since I was 12, but living within 100 miles of Chicago, I was not aware of Bobby Hull the player, but I was aware of Bobby Hull the legend. I had never seen him play once, but I had heard about him my entire life. So, now, his son is playing in my city, against my heroes? Must.See.TV.
I recall that the Bulldogs swept my Badgers that weekend, and that Hull unleashed a pretty impressive scoring display. But, none of that matters as much as what else happened. He became this guy I had to follow. He clearly had the ability to put the puck in the net, which when I was 12 was far more interesting to me than someone who could really back-check.
From that day on, I had 2 players I was obsessed with in the NHL. Wisconsin Badgers' legend Chris Chelios, and Wisconsin Badgers' foe Brett Hull. That obsession served me well for the next 20-25 years. Both are sure-fire Hall of Fame NHL Legends. Chelios will get there when and if he ever decides to stop playing hockey.
But, Hull goes in Monday night in what might be one of the greatest Hall of Fame classes of all-time when he joines Steve Yzerman, Luc Robitaillle, Brian Leetch, and Lou Lamoriello in the Toronto Shrine to Hockey Legends.
It is televised, NHL Network at 6pm, and I will be locked in. Just like I was for Hullie's entire career. In fact, he was signed in Dallas about 3 weeks before I was. What an amazing crossroads for me to come to a city that had just added my favorite goal-scorer of all-time. Other people can score goals, but not like Hullie- Not like the guy with the whip stick one-timer and the knack for scoring them just when you needed them most.
I have looked forward to Monday for a long, long time. I know Brett has, too. Congrats Golden Brett. Completing the first father-son combination in the Hall-of-Fame. Watching hockey my entire life would not have been as fun without your contribution to my hockey consciousness.
Email Bob at Sturm1310@aol.com and follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/bobanddan
BOB STURM STARS BLOG ARCHIVE