SUN Hockey Pool

The irony of Brett Hull

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:15 PM ET

A great irony of Brett Hull was how his gift of gab and penchant for controversy contrasted with his low key reaction while amassing 741 goals.

Hull would often light the lamp and then appear downright embarrassed about it, hustling back to the bench or faceoff dot with little fanfare.

The notable exception was the 1999 triple-overtime goal against the Buffalo Sabres that won the Dallas Stars the Stanley Cup. His skate was in the crease, a no-no in the rulebook at the time, but he was mobbed by teammates and handed his first Cup before the Sabres could mount a protest.

"He took pride in scoring," assured Steve Yzerman, who shared the 2002 Cup with Hull in Detroit. "He would never admit to anybody, but he took pride in being an all around player. He wanted to kill penalties, he wanted to be on the ice in the last minute of the game.

"It was very important to him to be recognized -- maybe not by the outside world, but by his coach -- that he was a complete hockey player."

Hull was infamously overlooked in his draft year, eventually going 117th overall in 1984 to Calgary and moved on to St. Louis four years later before reaching full potential. He put the Blues back on the NHL map and scored 86 goals in 1990-91 when he lived up to the Golden Brett monicker and began an assault on his father Bobby's scoring records.

Both Hulls were famous for their blistering shots, Brett's coming to prominence as early as the Quebec City peewee tournament in 1977.

"Dad told me, 'Lean on your stick, keep your weight over the puck and shoot off the outside foot,'" the college-aged Brett told Sports Illustrated of the long tutoring sessions with Bobby. "And no one ever shot harder than Dad."

Brett, who shot right as opposed to his father's left-handed delivery, did put more of his body into his release and snapped two or three sticks a game until the invention of the composite.

Along the way, he also emulated his Dad's out-spoken nature, jumping in on many controversial hockey issues, crossing swords with commissioner Gary Bettman, former players' union boss Alan Eagleson, coaches such as Mike Keenan and anyone he thought was watering down hockey's image in the United States.

He became a legend in St. Louis, but valued his stops in other cities and was grateful the Hall of Fame wonpt make him choose one team to be associated with upon his induction.

"I loved everywhere I played," said Hull, who also put in time with the Phoenix Coyotes. "To maybe alienate some (club), it's like a parent picking their favourite kid."

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca

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PROFILE

- Played 20 NHL seasons (Calgary, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix)

- Two Stanley Cups, including the Cup-winning goal for the Stars in 1999

- Has 741 career goals, third in league history, including two 50 goals in 50-game campaigns and three seasons of 60 or more

- Won Hart and Pearson awards in 1991.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1986, angered that Team Canada coach Dave King did not include him on Canada's world championship training roster (Hull was less-known then), he took Team USA's offer to join immediately. In 1991, his birth country approached him again about playing for the Canada Cup (Hull's three siblings were born in Chicago), but by then he was committed to the U.S. He would play a role in beating Canada at the World Cup in 1996.


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