Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Memories of #16

by Greg

I was glad to see Brett Hull back in St. Louis this week -- while he had to go to Dallas (boo!) and Detroit (BOO!!) to achieve the ultimate success, it's still (nearly a decade after he left) hard for me to imagine Hull wearing anything other than blue.

In the dark period when I didn't have a hometown team to support, I cheered for the Blues more or less by default (St. Louis always struck me as a friendly city, and that (honestly) helped determine my hockey and baseball allegiances). And while Hull was never my favorite player, he gave the Blues a certain cachet. In the early '90s, there were three players even the most steadfast un-fan knew -- Gretzky, Lemieux, and Hull.

Even in today's rebirth-of-offense NHL, Hull's 70-plus goal seasons seem difficult to imagine. With the obvious exception of Adam Oates, he wasn't surrounded by high-profile talent (in his last 70-goal season, '91-'92, Brendan Shanahan was the only other Blue with more than 25 goals).

Later on, of course, he drew as much attention for controversy as anything else -- my primary Hull memories from the Keenan era on are his criticisms of St. Louis trades, losing the captaincy, feuds with Keenan, accusations (by Murray Baron and Shayne Corson) that he orchestrated trades, rumors that his teammates disliked him, and finally the defection to Dallas.

But (viewed with the rose-colored glasses of hindsight) Hull's outspokenness was rather charming. In a league that's always had trouble promoting itself, Hull was one of the only players that ever understood how to work the media.

My only personal experience with Hull? On a trip to St. Louis, I made a pilgrimage to dine in the long-defunct Brett Hull Bar and Grill in Union Station. Unfortunately, since I was a vegetarian at the time, the only menu option available to me was a salad. A pretty awful salad, at that. The closing of Hull's restaurant was no loss to the world of fine dining. But, uh, I'll try not to let that color my memories of the player.

Shayne Corson criticizing somebody else for not being liked in a dressing room?
Team GM: "Shayne, it's cancer calling. It wants its reputation back."
Hullie was definitely good for getting the NHL some recognition (whether it was by scoring goals or running off at the mouth).

However, I beg to differ with your comment on Hullie not being surrounded by high-profile talent. He played with Mike Modano in Dallas and Shanny in St. Louis and then again in Detroit. If they aren't high-profile, I don't know who is.

My personal experience with Brett Hull was meeting him as a teenager at the Old St. Louis Arena on a day off while I was visiting family there. And then getting an autograph and having a brief conversation after a Panthers/Stars game in South Florida. He wasn't arrogant either time. Seemed like a good guy and definitely an entertaining one to hang out with during a game. But then again, I may be a little biased since we share the same birthday =)
re: Hull and high-profile talent -- I was just referring to the three years that he scored 70+ goals. Shanahan was still a ways from his prime, and other than Oates, they had... Paul Cavallini and Dave Christian. Not a great supporting cast.
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