Is Bobby Hull the Greatest Left Wing of All Time?

Many 21st century hockey fans likely think the answer to the question “Who is the Greatest Left Winger of All Time?” has an easy answer, Alex Ovechkin.

But it’s possible we don’t remember how dominant Bobby Hull truly was. Hull won 2 Hart trophies and 3 Art Ross trophies. But he was a Hart finalist for most of a decade. Additionally, he was, by most standards, the best offensive player of his era, both in the regular season and, crucially, in the playoffs.

And then he went to another league and dominated it in his late 30s. (It’s possible his departure to the WHA colours how we think of his career.)

So, is Bobby Hull the Greatest LW of All Time? Listen here:

Hall of Fame Class of 1983: Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Ken Dryden

Bobby Hull’s Career

  • NHL:
    • 1957-72, 1979-80; 16 seasons, 15 quality
    • Totals:
      • 610G (18th All Time, 4th LW – 2nd All Time at his departure to the WHA)
      • 560A (9th All Time, 2nd LW, at his departure) for
      • 1170P (4th All Time, 1st LW, at his departure),
      • +249 (3rd All Time, 1st Winger, at his departure) in
      • 1063 games (25th in Games at his departure);
      • 136.3 PS (4th All Time, 1st LW, at his departure)
      • Hull is 25th All Time (3rd LW) in Offensive Point Shares (3rd All Time at his departure, 1st LW)
    • Per Game: Hull is
      • 10th All Time (3rd LW)  in GPG (3rd All Time at his departure);
      • At his departure, Hull was
        • 11th All Time in APG (2nd LW)
        • 3rd All Time in PPG (1st LW)
    • Era: Of the 11 skaters to play in 984 games (12 modern seasons) between 1957 and 1972, Hull is
      • 1st in Goals (ahead by 141 goals)
      • 1st in GPG (ahead by .13)
      • 4th in Assists (2nd LW)
      • 4th in APG (2nd LW)
      • 1st in Points (ahead by 153)
      • 1st in PPG (ahead .16)
      • 1st in Plus/Minus
      • 1st in Offensive Point Shares (ahead by 30.5)
      • 3rd in Defensive Point Shares (1st Forward)
      • 1st in Point Shares (ahead by 31.4)
      • 3rd in Games Played
    • 82-game average: 47G, 43A for 90P, +19
    • 3-year peak (1963-66): 70-game average of 49G, 42A for 91P, +20
    • Playoffs: 
      • 62G (4th All Time at his departure, 1st LW), 
      • 67A (5th All Time at his departure, t-1st LW) for 
      • 129P (3rd All Time at his departure, 1st LW),
      • +21 (5th All Time at his departure) in 
      • 119 games (17th All Time at his departure)
      • Per Game:
        • 12th All Time (2nd LW) in playoff GPG (2nd at his departure, 1st LW)
        • At his departure, Hull was 9th All Time in playoff APG (2nd LW)
        • 20th All Time (1st LW) in playoff PPG (3rd at his departure, 1st LW);
      • Era: Of the 26 skaters to play in at least 82 playoff games between 1957 and 1972, Hull is
        • 1st in playoff Goals
        • 1st in playoff GPG
        • 2nd in playoff Assists
        • T-3rd in playoff APG (1st LW)
        • 1st in playoff Points
        • 1st in playoff PPG
        • 4th in playoff Plus/Minus
    • Adjusted:
      • Hockey Reference:
        • 644G (12th All Time, 3rd LW), 
        • 595A for 
        • 1219P (5th LW)
        • Adjusted 82-game average: 50G, 45A for 94P (+4P per 82 games)
      • VsX:
        • 829G (3rd All Time, 1st LW)
        • 809A
        • 1376P (21st All Time)
        • Per Game:
          • 12th All Time in VsX Adjusted GPG
          • If you raise the qualifier to 820 games, Hull is
            • 2nd All time in VsX Adjusted GPG
            • 23rd All Time in VsX Adjusted APG
            • 6th All Time (1st LW) in VsX Adjusted PPG
    • Trades:
      • Left the NHL for the WHA
      • Left unprotected at 40
      • Traded at 41 to the Whalers for unknown compensation
  • WHA:
    • 1972-79; 7 seasons, 5 quality
    • Totals:
      • 303G (2nd All Time – Tardif), 
      • 335A (6th All Time) for 
      • 638P (3rd All Time – Lacroix, Tardif),
      • + 189 (3rd – Ulf Nilsson, Hedberg) in 
      • 411 games
    • Per Game:
      • 3rd All Time in GPG (Hedberg, Cloutier)
      • 4th All time in APG (Ulf Nilsson, Lacroix, Ftorek)
      • 1st All time in PPG
    • 82-game average: 61G, 67A for 127P, +38
    • 3-year peak (1974-77): 81-game average of 61G, 72A for 133P, +56
    • Playoffs: 
      • 43G (1st All Time
      • 37A (7th All Time) for 
      • 80P (2nd All Time – Mark Howe) in 
      • 60 games (13th All Time)
      • Per Game: 
        • 3rd All Time in playoff GPG (Walton, Hedberg)
        • 11th All Time in playoff APG
        • 5th All Time in playoff PPG (Ulf Nilsson, Bernier, Hedberg, Tardif)

Bobby Hull’s Accomplishments:

  • NHL:
    • Hart (’65, ’66) – t-9th most ever
    • Top 5 in Hart voting a further seven times (’60, ’62, ’64, ’67, ’68, ’69, ’71)
    • Top 5 in Calder voting (’58)
    • Art Ross (’60, ’62, ’66) – t-7th most ever
    • Lady Byng (’65)
    • Back Check MVP (’60, ’66)
    • Back Check Best Player (’62, ’66)
    • All Star:
      • 1st Team All Stars ten times (most LW)
      • 2nd Team All Star twice (tied with Ovechkin for most end-of season All Star appearances by a LW)
      • 12 All Star Game appearances
    • Best Player:
      • Top 5 Player (by Point Shares) seven times (’60, ’62, ’64, ’66, ’67, ’68, ’69) – t-10th most ever
      • Top 10 Player ten times (’65, ’71, ’72) – t-9th most ever
      • Best Offensive Player (by Offensive Point Shares) five times (’60, ’62, ’64, ’66, ’67) – t-4th most ever (Gretzky, Howe, Lemieux)
      • Top 5 nine times (’65, ’68, ’69, ’71) t-4th most ever (Howe, Gretzky, Richard)
      • Top 10 twelve times (’63, ’70, ’72) – t-4th most ever (Howe, Gretzky, Ovechkin)
    • Goals:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Set the single-season record in Goals (Hull tied the single-season record in Goals, broke it four years later, and a couple years later broke it again until Esposito broke it in 1971)
      • Led the league in Goals seven times – 2nd most ever (Ovechkin)
      • Top 5 twelve times – t-3rd most ever (Howe, Ovechkin)
      • Top 10 thirteen times – t-2nd most ever (Howe)
    • GPG leader-boards:
      • Led the league in GPG eight times (most all time)
      • Top 5 eleven times – 4th most ever (Howe, Ovechkin, Richard)
      • Top 10 thirteen times – 4th most ever (Howe, Ovechkin, Richard)
    • Single-season totals:
      • Scored 55 goals once ( 1 of only 2 players at his departure to the WHA – Esposito)
      • 50 goals five times (1 of only 11 players ever – only player at his departure and more than double 2nd)
      • 40 goals eight times (1 of only 1o players ever – only player at his departure)
      • 35 goals eleven times (1 of only 9 players ever – only player at his departure)
      • 30 goals thirteen times (1 of only 10 players ever – 1 of only 2 players a his departure – Howe)
    • Assists:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in Assists twice
      • Top 10 five times
    • APG leader-boards:
      • Top 5 in APG once
      • Top 10 four times
    • Single-season totals:
      • Tallied 50 assists once,
      • 40 assists six times (1 of only 8 players at his departure to the WHA)
    • Points:
    • Leader-boards:
      • Set the single-season record for Points (Hull held the record for 3 years)
      • Led the league in Points three times – t-7th most ever
      • Top 5 eight times – t-8th most ever
      • Top 10 eleven times – t-5th most ever (Howe, Gretzky, Crosby, Beliveau)
    • PPG leader-boards:
      • Led the league in PPG twice
      • Top 5 ten times – t-6th most ever
      • Top 10 twelve times – t-4th most ever (Howe, Gretzky, Beliveau)
    • Single-season totals:
      • Scored 100 points once (1 of only 8 players to do so at his departure to the WHA)
      • 90 points four times (1 of only 2 players at his departure – Esposito)
      • 80 points eight times (1 of only 2 players at his departure – Howe)
      • 70 points ten times (1 of only 4 players at his departure – Howe, Beliveau, Mikita)
      • 60 points twelve times ( 1 of only 3 players at his departure – Howe, Beliveau)
      • 50 points fifteen times (1 0f only 4 players at his departure – Howe, Delvecchio, Ullman)
    • Plus/Minus:
      • Top 5 in Plus/Minus once
      • Top 10 four times
    • VsX:
      • Best 7 Seasons:
        • Goals: 1st All Time
        • Assists: 64th All Time
        • Points: 7th All Time
      • Best 10 Seasons:
        • Goals: 1st All Time
        • Assists: 58th All Time 
        • Points: 7th All Time
  • WHA:
    • Howe ( ’73, ’75) – tied most ever (Tardif)
    • All Star:
      • 1st Team All Star three times – t-most LW (Tardif)
      • 2nd Team twice (most end-of-season all star appearances by a winger)
    • Goals:
      • Led the WHA in Goals once
      • Top 5 five times
    • Assists:
      • Top 5 in Assists once, 
      • Top 10 three times
    • Points:
      • Top 5 in Points five times

Bobby Hull’s Great Teams

  • NHL:
    • Best Player (led playoffs in goals and points) on one Runner Up (’65 Black Hawks),
    • Best Player (by points) on two Final Fours (’67, ’70 Black Hawks),
    • Best Skater (by points) on one Runner Up (’71 Black Hawks)
    • Best Forward (by points) on one Champion (’61 Black Hawks)
    • Top 3 Forward (led playoffs in goals) on one Runner Up (’62 Black Hawks) and one Final Four (’63 Black Hawks),
    • Top 3 Forward on four Final Fours (’64, ’66, ’68, ’72 Black Hawks),
    • Top 6 Forward (by points) on one Final Four (’60 Black Hawks),
    • Top 9 Forward (by points) on one Final Four (’59 Black Hawks)
  • WHA:
    • Top 3 Forward (by Points) on one Avco Cup Champion (’76 Jets) and one Runner Up (’73 Jets),
    • Top 6 Forward (by points) on one Avco Cup Champion (’78 Jets) and one Runner up (’77 Jets)
  • Canada/World Cup:
    • Best Forward (by points) on one Canada Cup Champion (’76 Canada)
  • Summit Series:
    • Best Player (by points) on one Summit Series Runner up (’74 Canada).

Hull eclipsed Richard as the greatest goal scorer the NHL had ever seen. He is still very much in the conversation as possibly the greatest Left Wing the league has ever seen.

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