How many goals would Bobby Hull have scored if no WHA?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by The Panther, Apr 5, 2017.

  1. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    I'm sure it's been discussed before, but how many NHL goals would Bobby Hull have retired with if he'd never jumped to the WHA?

    The Hull-ster scored 604 NHL goals (regular season) up to his defection after 1971-72. His 50 goals that season were tied for 2nd in the NHL (Esposito was right in his pomp then), so it wasn't as if Hull was declining noticeably yet, and he was 33 in mid-season.

    Hull ended up with 610 NHL goals, after his measly 6 goals (in 27 games, mind) in his last kick at the can in 1979-80, between Winnipeg and Hartford.

    In between (that is, 1972 to 1979, or aged 33-40), Hull scored a ridiculous 303 goals in 411 WHA games, all with Winnipeg. This means he in fact scored 913 'pro' goals between the two Leagues.

    Of course, we can assume his WHA numbers wouldn't have transferred to NHL competition levels, but on the other hand he was still easily the best goal-scorer in the WHA at age 36, out-gunning everybody 15 years younger.

    Even if he'd scored only half those WHA goals in the NHL (and I think it would be considerably more than that), he'd have ended up with 762 career NHL goals, which would today place him 4th all-time, ahead of his son. More likely, though, I could see him scoring maybe 2/3 of the WHA totals in the NHL, which would then place him 2nd all-time, just ahead of Howe and behind only Gretzky.

    What do ya think?
     
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  2. ChrisK97

    ChrisK97 Registered User

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    Hull would have definitely feasted during the expansion years (1972-73 and 1974-75) when the Islanders and Capitals were historically bad in their respective maiden seasons
     
  3. Doctor No

    Doctor No Registered User

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    I don't necessarily disagree, although I will note that one reason why parity was so bad in the 1970s NHL was because of the WHA (and so without the WHA, perhaps those players end up bolstering the Capitals, Islanders, and Seals).

    Of course, without the WHA, perhaps the NHL keeps a rein on players similar to what they had in the 1960s, and instead of helping the Islanders, those players are playing in the Montreal farm system.
     
  4. seventieslord

    seventieslord Student Of The Game

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    WHA goals are worth approximately 0.7 NHL goals, so maybe about 210 more goals, with a 20% margin of error
     
  5. MXD

    MXD Original #4

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    Similar-aged Frank Mahovlich scored 69 goals during the two seasons following the establishment of the WHA.

    It's not unreasonable to think Hull would've been somewhat in that range or a tad better (think 80 goals instead of 69), meaning he'd have to score 130 goals in 5 seasons to reach 210 (let's disregard his late NHLJets/Whalers stint).

    210 goals thus seems "conservatively accurate". The higher "end" of the margin of error (254 goals) would involve 174 goals in 5 seasons, or averaging roughly 35 goals between 74-75 and 78-79. That is, nearly litterally, heatlhy Lemaire-like goal production. Hull wasn't always heatlhy to reach 303 goals.
     
  6. pappyline

    pappyline Registered User

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    The .7 factor might be a close enough factor for the average WHA player but we are talking about Bobby Hull here. We know that is was still in good form with 1976 team Canada. This was probably the best team in the history of the game and 37 year old Hull was their top goalscorer. And look who was scoring 50 goals in the NHL in those years-Redmond, MacLeish,Hodge, Grant, Larouche, Pronovost, gare, Barber, shutt. Hull would certainly have been scoring at least 50 goals in the NHL in those years. So I would use 50 for most of his WHA years and an 80% factor for his abnormal seasons. I see it like this:

    72-73 50 Missed 13 games due to NHL injunction
    73-74 50
    74-75 62 80% of 77
    75-76 50
    76-77 17 only played 34 games
    77-78 37 80% of 46

    Thats a total of 276 which puts him ahead of Howe and very close to gretzky.
     
  7. Moose Head

    Moose Head Registered User

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    I think it's reasonable to assume he could have passed Howe.
     
  8. crobro

    crobro Registered User

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    Also who's to say he wouldn't have been traded to the Bruins or Leafs at the time and extenddd his career to at least 1981.

    I've always wondered if Guy Lafleur had joined the Oilers in 1984 hoe much would he have finished with
     
  9. pappyline

    pappyline Registered User

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    Good point. I think he would have been traded as Wirtz didn't want to pay him. Probably Los Angeles would have been his destination. Jack Kent Cook did try to get him from Chicago to keep Hull from jumping to the WHA. He was a natural for LA. Movie star looks, exciting playing style, outgoing personality. He would have sold the game there long before Gretzky and been given free rein to score goals.
     
  10. FissionFire

    FissionFire Registered User

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    He wouldn't finish ahead of Howe since without the WHA Howe would still be in the NHL as well adding to his numbers.
     
  11. sharkhawk

    sharkhawk Registered User

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    Does Gordie come back without the WHA? I always thought he only came back to play with Mark and Marty?
     
  12. BrianW

    BrianW Registered User

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    Very interesting discussion -- I agree Hull would likely have passed Howe, if Gordie had stayed retired. On a related note, a friend (Toronto fan) recently told me he thought Bobby Hull was a "floater" -- I was stunned. Seems to me he was always in the thick of it -- actually I really can't think of any floaters in the 1960's. Any thoughts?
     
  13. McGuillicuddy

    McGuillicuddy Registered User

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    I think you need to clarify if we are assuming that there is no WHA, or only that Hull did not defect but the WHA continued to exist.
     
  14. Theokritos

    Theokritos Moderator

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    Headline/thread title apart, the OP is clear:

     
  15. BobbyAwe

    BobbyAwe Registered User

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    His last full season in the WHA he had 46 goals and 117 points. Using the ".7 formula", that would equate to 32 goals and 82 points in the NHL. Not an exact equation because it would have depended a lot on what team he was on and who his line mates would have been in the NHL at that time, but in general, a pretty remarkable season for a 39 year old?
     
  16. bobholly39

    bobholly39 Registered User

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    It would have been but the bolded can't be understated. So it depends?
     
  17. BigBadBruins7708

    BigBadBruins7708 Registered User

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    at a minimum, I'd say he hits 750
     
  18. Mbraunm

    Mbraunm Registered User

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    I think he could have hit 800-850 if he had played in the NHL until 1980. Certainly no lower than 800.
     
  19. BobbyAwe

    BobbyAwe Registered User

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    Did he mean the '60's or in the WHA? From watching Hull in a few whole games from the 1960's - no way he was a floater. He was a worker if anything? In the WHA when he started to slow down it's possible he could have accused at times of floating? But I'm just assuming since I never saw him in the WHA...
     
  20. wetcoast

    wetcoast Registered User

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    This would be my best guess as well.

    But I guess it would depend also if the WHA exists exactly the same and Hull stays with the Black Hawks or if the WHA never exists at all.

    Ironically Bobby's brother Denis has a superb career year in the regular season and playoffs the first year bobby was in the WHA.
     

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