GARY OLD TIMERS BANQUET

Dennis Hull still has plenty of game

2014-01-08T19:30:00Z 2014-01-14T00:00:11Z Dennis Hull still has plenty of gameAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
January 08, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

HOBART | There must have been times in his life when Dennis Hull felt like the warmup act for the Rolling Stones and Beyonce'.

Older brother Bobby and nephew Brett were the family's true hockey celebrities, leaving many in the media referring to Dennis as overshadowed and under-appreciated.

"No, not at all. No more than any other guy on their teams," said the former Chicago Blackhawk. "Bobby was better than everybody else. He wasn't just better than me.

"The problem is we had the same name and people expected me to be up to Bobby's standards. I wasn't and nobody was."

Dennis Hull was featured speaker at Wednesday night's 68th annual Gary Old Timers Banquet at a packed Avalon Manor and, much like his career with the 'Hawks from 1964 to 1976, his swift delivery was through the pipes.

The Toronto native has found a second calling and it's called comedy.

Hull could break up the Swiss Guard.

"When you're from a family of 12 and you're at the lower rung, you had to say something smarter or no one would listen to you," said the youngest of four brothers.

Bobby is six years older than Dennis and they were Chicago teammates from 1964 to 1971.

Bearing a striking resemblance to comedian Don Rickles, the game didn't appear to have taken a heavy toll on Dennis Hull's body.

"You think I was born looking like this?" he chuckled. "I had a few injuries — a broken collarbone and knee problems. All sorts of different things. I got a new knee."

Hockey players didn't wear helmets back then.

"We didn't know there was such a thing," Hull said. "If you never wore a helmet from when you were 5 years old and you get to the NHL ... I put one on and it felt like a bale of hay on my head."

People didn't fret over concussions, referred to as "having your bell rung" when the Hulls played.

Dennis recalled the time teammate J.P. Bordeleau did get his brain a bit scrambled.

"I was on the ice and the trainer was checking him out," Hull said.

"J.P., where are you?''

"He said: 'Chicago.'''

"Chicago what?"

"Chicago, Florida."

The trainer took the dazed Blackhawk to the locker room, then grabbed coach Billy Reay and told him J.P. didn't know who he was.

"Billy Reay replied: 'Tell him he's Gordie Howe and get him back up here!'"

Some of the best lines from his book "The Third Best Hull" include:

* "I wasn't even the second best in my family when Brett was in his prime. I would have been fourth but they wouldn't let my sister Maxine play."

* "Every game I played against Henri Richard, he'd come up behind me at some point and say: 'My brother's better than your brother.'"

* "Someone once said Bobby could hit a puck through a car wash and not get it wet and that I could hit it just as hard, but not hit the car wash."

Move over, Jay Leno.

A six-time All-Star, Dennis Hull retired with 303 goals, 351 assists and 654 points.

No, sir. Nothing funny about that.

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