(page 14 of 17)
by Shane Tritsch
THEN Left wing, Chicago Blackhawks (1964–77)
NOW Comedic public speaker
As the younger brother of Bobby Hull and the uncle of Brett Hull—two of the greatest players in NHL history—Dennis Hull may indeed have been the third-best hockey player in his family—if not even worse, according to his 1998 memoir, The Third Best Hull (I Should Have Been Fourth but They Wouldn’t Let My Sister Maxine Play). But he was an excellent player, a five-time NHL All-Star who helped spur the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup finals in 1971 and 1973 (both losses to the Montreal Canadiens).
After retiring in 1978, Hull became a 34-year-old college freshman, majoring in history and geography at Brock University in Canada. He spent four years as a high-school history teacher, then ten years back in Chicago as the athletic director at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Meanwhile, he maintained an interest in a 150-acre farm east of Toronto, which he had shared with his brother Garry since his playing days. A few years ago, the two sold their herd of Hereford cattle, but Hull still spends his summers on the farm, growing corn, wheat, and soybeans. (He and his wife, Janet, split the winter between homes in Naples, Florida, and Palm Desert, California.)
While Hull, 66, isn’t the best hockey player in his family, he is surely the funniest. He has nurtured a livelihood as a public speaker who makes audiences laugh. His famous family is prime fodder: “In Pointe Anne [in Ontario], there’s a huge billboard [that] says, ‘Pointe Anne, the birthplace of Bobby and Dennis Hull.’ Bobby’s name is in ten-foot letters, and I pencil my name in every time I go home.” So is his own experience: “I’m playing blackjack, and [the sign] says, ‘If you have a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLE.’ So I call and I say, ‘Listen, I have a jack and a nine . . .’” He’s even got a lawyer joke: “How come lawyers never get it right? How come [they] always have to practice?”
Hull speaks to corporate groups, trade associations, and sports teams about once a week. He seems to enjoy it. But, he says from his Palm Desert home as he prepares to leave for an engagement in Manitoba, “if I won the lottery, I’d never do it again.”