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Bobby Hull Dies at 84

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WINNIPEG –

Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull has died at the age of 84.

Hull played for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks and Hartford Whalers and the World Hockey Association’s Winnipeg Jets over a 23-year pro career. The Blackhawks confirmed his death on Monday.

He helped lead the Blackhawks to their first Stanley Cup in 23 years in 1961, and is 55th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list with 610 goals and 560 assists. He also had 303 goals and 335 assists in the WHA for combined total of 913 goals in both leagues in 1,474 games.

To put that into context, Wayne Gretzky has a combined total of 940 goals in both leagues over 1,567 games, although all but 80 of those were in the NHL.

His 604 goals with the Blackhawks remain a team record.

“Hull is part of an elite group of players who made a historic impact on our hockey club,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. “Generations of Chicagoans were dazzled by Bobby’s shooting prowess, skating skill and overall team leadership.”

Hull was the first player in the NHL history to score more than 50 goals in a season. He set the record of 54 in 1966 and broke it by four goals a couple of seasons later.

Along with Chicago teammate Stan Mikita, he helped popularize the curved hockey stick blade in the NHL. He would first soak the wooden blade, then bend it under a door and leave it overnight. It made Hull’s slapshot, clocked at close to 200 kilometres per hour, even harder for a goalie to stop.

His defection to the WHA in 1972 was the catalyst that helped shatter the NHL’s contractual stranglehold on players. It also started the escalation of salaries that now make Hull’s once record-setting million-dollar payday look like small change.

There were plenty of hard feelings at the time on both sides, but in 2011 a statue of Hull was erected alongside one of Mikita outside the United Center, where Chicago now plays.

“I never, ever thought in 100 years I’d ever be standing here tonight,” Hull said at the unveiling.

Robert Marvin Hull Jr., was born Jan. 3, 1939 in Pointe Anne, Ont., now part of the city of Belleville, and was 12 when he was first scouted by Chicago. He started playing with the Blackhawks in 1957 when he was just 18.

He was regarded as the fastest skater in the NHL and led the league in scoring seven times in the 1960s. When he left the NHL in 1972 for the WHA, he was second on the all-time scoring list behind only Gordie Howe, and Howe had been in the league for an extra decade.

Although not large by today’s standards (five-foot-10 and just under 190 pounds), the muscular Hull was not afraid to scrap. In 1966 when he set his first scoring record, he also had 70 penalty minutes in 65 games.

In an era when few players worked out in the off-season, Hull stayed in shape throwing around bales of hay on his farm — which led to a still iconic black and white photo of the shirtless Hull in action, a bale on the end of his pitchfork.

In 1978, Hull was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983 and his No. 9 jersey was retired by both the Blackhawks and the old Winnipeg Jets (who moved to Phoenix in 1996 and became the Coyotes before the Atlanta Thrashers moved to Winnipeg in 2011 and reclaimed the Jets name).

Son Brett Hull became a star and Hall of Famer in his own right as a star scorer with St. Louis and Dallas and is 25th on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.

Hull said he loved his years in Chicago and the fans, but the organization didn’t love him as much. He resented what he was paid, as did many in the league at that time, and got into high-profile disputes over money with the Wirtz family that owned the team.

In 1972, he became the linchpin around which the WHA was formed and the first hockey player to earn a million dollars, his signing bonus for joining the new league with the Jets.

Although some resented him for the leap, Mikita once said he got down on his knees and thanked his former teammate and the Jets — his salary doubled almost overnight because of the competition.

But the move cost Hull a chance to play in the 1972 Summit Series when the NHL refused to let him join Team Canada. He made up for it in 1974, when a team of Canadians from the WHA met the Soviet Union in a second Summit Series, and again when he played in the 1976 Canada Cup.

Nicknamed the Golden Jet for his speed and blond hair (even before he joined the Jets), Hull spent eight seasons with the team, the last in the NHL, and helped make them one of the strongest clubs in the WHA. They won three Avco Cups, the league’s ultimate prize, in the seven years it was awarded, and were runners-up twice.

Hull played only part of the final Jets’ final WHA season in 1978-79, and returned only briefly the next season when Winnipeg joined the NHL as the two leagues merged. He moved to the Whalers, who also jumped to the NHL, for nine games that same season.

He was 42 when he made a brief comeback attempt with the New York Rangers in 1981 before finally hanging up his skates.

Hull could be aggressive and controversial off the ice.

An acrimonious divorce from his second wife of 20 years, Joanne — which included numerous allegations of abuse — cost him a stake he owned in the original Jets.

He returned to farming/ranching during the early years of his time away from hockey and then settled in Florida with third wife Deborah.

Although their marriage lasted, he also was accused by her of assault in 1986. She dropped the charges but the police officer who Hull took a swing at during the investigation did not. He was fined $150 and placed on six months court supervision.

He stoked more controversy when in 1998 he told the Moscow Times, an English-language newspaper, that the Nazis were not without merit, the Black population of the United States was growing too fast and genetic breeding was a worthy idea.

“Hitler, for example, had some good ideas. He just went a little bit too far,” Hull, who was visiting Russia, was quoted as saying.

The Blackhawks brought him back as a team ambassador in 2008 and he was on hand for their 2010 Stanley Cup win. It was their first Stanley Cup since 1961.

   This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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