Hull expects Gretzky to be 'special'

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

PHOENIX -- Over the years, many coaches have had the good fortune to receive advice from Brett Hull.

He says that the legendary Scott Bowman was the best coach he ever had, and he thinks that his newest coach, Wayne Gretzky, will be, "a special one."

In Hull's view, that pretty well sums up his list of good coaches. "Besides that," he said yesterday, "there's not too many."

But with his newest team, the Phoenix Coyotes, Hull thinks all will go well. "The way sport is today," he said, "you do most of your talking with the assistant coaches."

And two of Gretzky's assistants, Barry Smith and Rick Tocchet, are among Hull's favorites. "They're too good, too smart," he said. "They're great communicators."

As for Gretzky, Hull holds out high hopes.

"I want him," he said, "to be that special guy he was when he played, where you look at him and go, 'That's innovative. Why didn't other coaches think of that?' That's what I'm expecting.

"He's not going to be in the norm like all the other mechanical coaches. I think his desire to win is probably going to be his greatest asset. He'll do whatever it takes."

As for the new rules under which the game will be played, Hull allowed that he approves of most of them -- but not the one that limits the goalies' movements.

"There are rules that I like and there are rules that I think are kind of asinine," he said.

"I just can't figure out why you would put defencemen in danger, not allowing the goalie to play the puck in situations where we've got a league full of guys who are very big and fast and who are not only paid, but told, to go out and hit and hurt the other players.

"I'd hate to see a guy like (teammate David) Tanabe or even Nick Lidstrom who I played with in Detroit, go back there and be vulnerable because goalies are only allowed to go out 20 feet when its part of the game to go out and draft goalies and sign goalies who can handle the puck."

But Hull's primary concern is making the most of his time in Phoenix, probably his last NHL stop.

As a result, he is willing to make a rare concession.

"I'll do what I'm asked," he said.

Then, after a slight pause, "For the most part."


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