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Hull plays hockey for laughs



’72 Summit Series alumnus and former NHL-er to headline fundraising gala

Who: Dennis Hull

What: Comedy Night in Canada

Where: Telus Conference Centre

When: Saturday, Feb. 21, 8:30 p.m.

Tickets: $185.10

If there are two things that Canadians have mastered they are hockey and comedy.

That said, Dennis Hull must be some sort of super-Canadian.

Hull can claim a 13-year NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings along with a spot on the exalted 1972 Summit Series team that led Canada to a Cold War victory.

He calls Hall of Famer Bobby Hull "big brother" and current NHL superstar Brett "nephew." Only in this family would a career marked by over 300 goals in more than 1,000 NHL games be overshadowed.

But since retiring from hockey Hull has found a new calling as a comedian and public speaker. It’s a role that brings him to Whistler tomorrow night as the headliner for the Sea to Sky Hockey Challenge’s Comedy Night in Canada. The gala cocktail reception and dinner event is a feature of the MVP ticket package and includes performances by actor/comedian Brent Butt, and comics Will Davis, Peter Kelamis, Jamie Hutchinson and Darryl Lennox. The event is also a fundraiser, with proceeds from a silent auction of hockey memorabilia, ski vacations and other items donated to the Athletes at Work Legacy Fund for Olympic hopefuls.

While Saturday’s event marks the first time he has performed officially in support of the fund, Hull said he is interested in continuing his association, stating, "anything I can do to help the Olympic movement I’d be glad to do."

His enthusiasm might be due to the fact that Hull has firsthand experience with representing his country in athletics on the world stage. As a member of the 1972 Summit Series that pitted team Canada against the formidable Soviet Red Army hockey squad, his name is forever in the history books and, more importantly, the hearts of all Canadians.

"It’s a highlight of my hockey life, to have played in that," said Hull.

Further reinforcing the series’ mythic status, Hull says everyone he encounters over the age of 35 is eager to cite where they were and what they were doing when team mate Paul Henderson scored the series-deciding goal.

"It’s kind of like everybody knowing where they were when the President was shot," said Hull. But even a new generation too young to have watched the series firsthand is intrigued by the cold war-era battle on ice.

"You’d think the interest might wane a little bit," he said, "but it just keeps getting stronger."

Hull confirmed hockey and the incomparable characters he’s met throughout his career are a major source of material for his comedy. His current profession is a natural progression for the ex-player who admits he was always the team cut-up.

Growing up in a family of 11 kids taught him how to make himself heard. He attributes his current status in the world of comedy and public speaking to a path similar to the one that built his hockey career. He’s risen through the ranks, from smaller "minor league" banquets to bigger, more high-profile events and currently performs at approximately 100 events per year – another impressive career statistic – with no sign of tiring just yet.

"I like doing it," said Hull. "I get to go all over the country and meet wonderful people, make people laugh.

"It’s a worthwhile thing to do."

Dennis Hull’s performance at the Sea to Sky Hockey Challenge’s Comedy Night in Canada fundraising gala is restricted to MVP ticket holders. The $185.10 passes can be purchased through TicketMaster and include access to Saturday afternoon’s game at Meadow Park Recreation Centre pitting retired hockey heroes against a celebrity squad.

For more information visit www.seatoskyhockey.com.

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