There’s something especially hypocritical about an organization that so wholeheartedly prides itself on its family-friendly, amiable code of ethics and is so self-conscience of this image it will go to just about any length to protect its reputation in the perspective of the almighty public eye.
Yet, until this very day, this honorable franchise that flaunts its code of ethics nearly as often and as obnoxiously as its legendary Indian head logo continues to showcase a shotgun-wielding, pugnacious, women-beating, Hitler-sympathizing, African-American-weary, booze-hound — who, once-upon-a-time, long before anyone reading this was old enough to lift a stick let alone comprehend the rules and regulations of the sport of hockey, was pretty good at a game and was beloved by our dads and uncles and grandpas and elderly co-workers — as a face of its meticulously, borderline surgically run organization.
I am talking about, of course, Blackhawks great, and guy you can find asleep at the end of the bar in a puddle of his own piss at any given point in the day, Bobby Hull.
Now I’ve never been one to get political when discussing sports. I’m no moral crusader for all things politically correct and I typically shy away from amalgamating political notions with the sports I write about. I tend to leave such gray and debatable topics to journalists much smarter and much more informed than myself.
The ethos of the Chicago Blackhawks and Hull’s continuous affiliation with the organization, though – now that’s a topic of black-and-white circumstance elementary enough for me to parley.
There’s nothing monochrome about this situation. For a franchise hardened by a long history of difficult decisions, the decision to distance itself from a man accused of some of the most despicable and vile actions against women you will ever read about should be a rather easy one to make.
For those unfamiliar with these instances, the only thing more notorious than Hull’s legendary hockey ability is his infamous reputation for getting belligerently inebriated and taking whatever bottled up insecurities he may have had about himself out on his helpless significant others – which I chronicled in my early days as a Blackhawks columnist.
To save you the click, I’ll go ahead and detail a few instances for you.
Joanne McKay, the second wife of Hull, issued the following graphic description of an incident that occurred while the two vacationed in Hawaii in 1966.
“I looked the worst after that Hawaii incident. I took a real beating there. [Bobby] just picked me up, threw me over his shoulder, threw me in the room, and just proceeded to knock the heck out of me. He took my shoe — with a steel heel — and proceeded to hit me in the head. I was covered with blood. And I can remember him holding me over the balcony and I thought this is the end, I’m going.”
After four more years of fluent mental and physical abuse, McKay would file for divorce in 1970, though the two would rekindle their marriage in the mid-1970’s. This wouldn’t last long as McKay, yet again, filed for divorce after Hull threatened her with loaded shotgun.
Hull would remarry in 1984 to his third wife, Deborah but the abuse didn’t stop there.
Two years into the marriage, Hull was arrested in a Willowbrook parking garage on charges of domestic assault and battery. When police arrived to apprehend the former Blackhawk great, they discovered Hull drunk, and his wife severely beaten. As officers attempted to detain the belligerent Hull, the Hall of Fame forward physically lashed out at the arresting officers.
Hull plead guilty to assaulting one of the officers and was slapped with a measly $150 fine and six months of court supervision because, well, being real good at a game has its perks.
Our hero, everybody! “Get in line son. Your daddy’s childhood hero is offering autographs for $40 a pop!”
Any right-minded head of a respected sports organization would cut ties with an individual accused of such heinous actions immediately, right?
Wrong. Not this organization.
Instead we proud Blackhawks fans are subjected night-in and night-out to a cheerful Hull, smiling and mindlessly waving while being paraded around the United Center like Mickey Mouse at the Magic Kingdom – only I doubt Bob Iger would allow Mickey to prance around Cinderella’s Castle had everyone’s favorite rodent been accused of pulling a shotgun on Minnie. Kids and adults alike line up to take pictures with this beloved icon, while droves of fans erupt in cheers whenever his mug is shown on the jumbo-tron and the Blackhawks organization reaps all the benefits for allowing their franchise great to be so accessible to the public.
While this always rubbed me the wrong way, this past Tuesday was the first time in my life I found myself truly embarrassed to be regarded as an advocate of the Chicago Blackhawks. Of all stages for the franchise to unleash it’s so-loathsome-it’s-nauseating drunken, fecal-relic of the past, the Blackhawks selected hockey’s grandest of regular season stages, a nationally televised affair which attracted an excess of 2.5 million viewers, to parade Hull like some kind of twisted and demented mascot in front of the observing world. Because, well, I guess marketability reigns supreme over common human decency when you’re running a business.
The saddest aspect of this all is that only a few rebellious media outlets affiliated with Chicago sports had the gall to call out the almighty Blackhawks for their wonderfully astute decision to remove Hull from his urine-soaked, corner seat at Hawkeye’s Sports Bar on Taylor Street, force feed him gallons of coffee, ship him first class to St. Louis and place him smack dab at center ice to represent the franchise in front of the entire hockey-watching world.
And, oh boy, if you ever wish to see the devolution of human society manifested in rhetorical form feel free to check out the comments section under these articles. It’s almost to the point where you can’t help but question whether there exists a limit or scenario which those who have become intoxicated by their undying fandom will not attempt to vindicate. Hell, I’m to the point where I’m questioning whether these individuals are people at all, or are they just mindless sheep who support whatever or whoever their favorite organization tells them to support?
Forgive my self-righteous preachiness raining piss and vinegar all over your nostalgic memories of a great hockey player but it simply irks me to see bad people being treated as divine entities all because they were once good at playing a game for a living. My loathing for such individuals doesn’t end with Hull either in case you were about to scold me for whatever anti-Chicago sentiments or biases you think I might possess. My detest is just as strong for the Ray Rice’s, Josh Brown’s, Adrian Peterson’s and Michael Vick’s of the world – bad people, who do terrible things but are gifted an asterisk because they excel in other areas that appease we the common fan.
Anyway, it’s far too late for anything to change now. Hull has been an ambassador for the Blackhawks organization for as long as I can remember and if the organization wasn’t fazed about his reputation when they brought him back it’s a pretty safe bet they can give two shits now.
Just remember all this the next time you run into Hull at an autograph signing and he tries to charge you your hard-earned money for a photo with him.