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Hull, Brett

Brett Hull


Canadian hockey player

Son of hockey legend Bobby Hull , Brett Hull has carved out his own place in the sport's history books alongside his father. Although he was criticized early in his career for being a one-dimensional player who could score goals but do little else on the ice, Hull grew into an impressive all-around player who adapted his game to help his teams win. One of the ten leading all-time scorers in the National Hockey League (NHL), Hull played on the Stanley Cup-winning teams of the Dallas Stars in 1999 and the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. One of the more vibrant personalities in the NHL, Hull was also popular with hockey audiences for his outspoken comments on the sport. As he related to Jennifer Floyd of the Hockey Digest in 2001, "[The fans] are the most important part of the game. Without them, there is no game. It's not like I [became a fan advocate] to be a pain in the [butt] to the league or to the organizations I played for. I did it because I loved the game."

Son of Hockey Legend

Born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada on August 9, 1964, Brett Hull arrived at the height of his father's fame as an NHL player. Bobby Hull took the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup finals in 1965, the same year that he won the first of his two consecutive Hart Trophies as the league's Most Valuable Player. Brett and his three brothers spent considerable time with their father at Blackhawks training sessions; when the Black-hawks banned the Hull boys from the ice, Bobby Hull briefly walked off the team in protest.

The stormy relationship of his parentswhich ended in divorce in 1980 after allegations of spousal abuse by his motherestranged Hull from his father during his adolescence. The family had been living in Winnipeg, where Bobby Hull had played with the Jets between 1972 and 1980, but relocated to Vancouver without the elder Hull after the divorce. Hull also gave up playing hockey around this time; at five foot, nine inches tall and 220 pounds, he was too out of shape to contemplate a career as a professional player. After his mother encouraged him to give the sport another try, Hull made the Penticton junior hockey team in 1983 and played well enough to earn a sports scholarship to the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Signs with the Calgary Flames

Hull spent just two years in college, but it was a pivotal experience in his career. A finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the best college hockey player of the 1985-86 season, Hull was signed by the Calgary Flames, who had selected him in the 1984 draft. He immediately made his debut at the end of the 1986 season during the Flames' appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, which the team lost to the Montreal Canadiens. Sent to the Moncton Golden Flames, Calgary's American Hockey League affiliate, for most of the 1986-87 season, Hull returned to Calgary in 1987. His tenure with the team turned out to be short-lived. With a reputation as a "sniper," or a player who lurked around the net waiting for a chance to score a goal, the right wing's style of play differed from the team-oriented approach of Calgary's coaches.

Finishing the 1987-88 season with the St. Louis Blues, Hull returned with a respectable forty-one goals and forty-three assists the following year. Working with coach Brian Sutter to improve his all-around game and his physical endurance, Hull had an impressive 1989-90 season with seventy-two goals and forty-one assists. He was also honored in 1990 with the Lady Byng Trophy, given to the NHL player exhibiting the most gentlemanly style of play on the ice.

Builds Popularity of the St. Louis Blues

Hull signed a four-year, $8.3 million contract with the Blues in 1990 and immediately demonstrated his worth to the team. His eighty-six goals in the 1990-91 season fell just short of Wayne Gretzky 's all-time record; Gretzky also edged Hull as that season's scoring leader. Hull, however, walked away with the Hart Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player. Despite Hull's impressive playing, the Blues failed to make the Stanley Cup's final round.

Although the Blues never made it to the finals during his eleven seasons in St. Louis, Hull became one of the city's most popular sports figures. His colorful personality generated excitement around the team's fortunes in St. Louis, which had not previously been known as a hockey-oriented town. Injuries hampered his playing during the 1994-95 season, but Hull remained the key to the team's offense. Many were surprised when St. Louis declined to sign him again at the end of the 1997-98 season; instead, Hull joined the Dallas Stars. As in St. Louis, he quickly raised the profile of hockey in a city that had a small fan base for winter sports. He also worked to change his game to complement the more defensive style coached by the Stars' Ken Hitchcock. As Hull wrote in a column published in Sports Illustrated in 1999, "When I came to Dallas last summer as a free agent, that style of play was an adjustment for me. I had to alter my game. At first it was tough to remember to check here and check there and not worry about goals. When I was back in St. Louis, with the Blues, everyone said I was a one-dimensional guy who could score goals and do nothing else . well, it's niceto prove everyone wrong. Really nice."

Scores Deciding Goal in 1999 Stanley Cup Finals

Hull once again energized his new team and the Stars made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in the young franchise's history in 1999. It was also Hull's first appearance in the finals since his debut with the Calgary Flames. He finished the series against the Buffalo Sabres in dramatic fashion by scoring the game- and series-winning goal in a triple overtime period. Although the Sabres complained that Hull had his foot in the goalie's crease, rendering the goal invalid, the referees stood by their initial decision and the Stanley Cup went to the Stars.

When his contract with the Stars expired in 2001, Hull publicly expressed his willingness to take a pay cut from his then-$7 million yearly salary to stay in Dallas, where he was now raising three children with his wife, Alison. "They've got a big payroll here, but I'd be more than happy to help with that because like I was telling Ken Hitchcock, I don't think I'm worth the money I'm being paid," he told Jennifer Floyd of the Hockey Digest with typical candor in the summer of 2001. "I'm not the type of player that earns that type of money any more," he added, "So I'd be willing to take a little cut to get a couple of extra years." Given his flexibility on the issue, Hull was shocked when the Stars failed to offer him a contract.


1964 Born August 8 in Belleville, Ontario, Canada to Bobby Hull and Joanne McKay-Hull
1986 Makes NHL debut with Calgary Flames
1988 Is traded to St. Louis Blues
1991 Wins Hart Trophy as NHL's Most Valuable Player and Lester B. Pearson Award as Player of the Year from the NHL Players Association
1998 Joins Dallas Stars
1998 Member of U.S. hockey team at Nagano Winter Olympic Games
1999 Dallas Stars win Stanley Cup
2001 Joins Detroit Red Wings
2002 Member of U.S. hockey team at Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games
2002 Detroit Red Wings win Stanley Cup

Awards and Accomplishments

1990 Lady Byng Trophy as Most Gentlemanly Player in NHL
1991 Hart Trophy as NHL's Most Valuable Player
1991 Lester B. Pearson Award as Player of the Year, National Hockey League Players Association
1999 Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars)
2002 Olympic Silver Medal, hockey, Salt Lake City Games (U.S. men's hockey team)
2002 Stanley Cup (Detroit Red Wings)

Signs with Detroit Red Wings

Bouncing back from the rejection by the Stars, Hull signed with the Detroit Red Wings in 2001. The timing of his move proved fortuitous, as the team led the league all season and emerged as the winner of the Stanley Cup over the Carolina Hurricanes. A key player in the team's march to the championship, the victory vindicated Hull's talent and renewed his enthusiasm for the game. As he described his Stanley Cup experience to Dan Patrick in an interview for the ESPN Web site, "I enjoyed it. I was genuinely aware of what was happening and enjoyed looking at the people I won it with and how they enjoyed it. Before, I was just so excited that I won it that I didn't get to really enjoy the experience." Now ranked as one of the NHL's half-dozen all-time top goal scorers during the regular season and playoffs, Hull looked forward to another season with the Red Wings in 2002-03. He was also proud of his participation on the U.S. men's hockey team sent to the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City; the team emerged with a Silver Medal, falling in the final game to Canada in one of the most-watched hockey games ever broadcast on North American television.

Career Statistics

Blues: St. Louis Blues (NHL); Flames: Calgary Flames (NHL); Red Wings: Detroit Red Wings (NHL); Stars: Dallas Stars (NHL).
1985-86 Flames 0
1986-87 Flames 5 -1 0 1 1 0 5 20.0 0 0
1987-88 Flames 52 26 24 50 +10 12 153 17.0 4 0
Blues 13 6 8 14 +4 4 58 10.3 2 0
1988-89 Blues 78 41 43 84 -17 33 305 13.4 16 0
1989-90 Blues 80 72 41 113 -1 24 385 18.7 27 0
1990-91 Blues 78 86 45 131 +23 22 389 22.1 29 0
1991-92 Blues 73 70 39 109 -2 48 408 17.2 20 5
1992-93 Blues 80 54 47 101 -27 41 390 13.8 29 0
1993-94 Blues 81 81 57 97 -3 38 392 14.5 25 3
1994-95 Blues 48 29 21 50 13 10 200 14.5 9 3
1995-96 Blues 70 43 40 83 +4 30 327 13.1 16 5
1996-97 Blues 77 42 40 82 -9 10 302 13.9 12 2
1997-98 Blues 66 27 45 72 -1 26 211 12.8 10 0
1998-99 Stars 60 32 26 58 30
1999-00 Stars 79 24 35 59 43
2000-01 Stars 79 39 40 79 18
2001-02 Red Wings 82 30 33 63 35
TOTAL 1101 679 567 1246 424

Related Biography: Hockey Coach Ken Hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock was born in 1951 in Alberta, Canada. His rise through the coaching ranks began with a six-season stint with the Kamloops Blazers in Canada's Western Hockey League in 1984. He then jumped into the NHL as assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. In 1993 he became the head coach of the International Hockey League's Kalamazoo Wings, and in 1996 he returned to the NHL as the head coach of the Dallas Stars.

Hitchcock's strategy emphasized the importance of teamwork, which clashed with the style of some players such as Brett Hull, who joined the Stars in 1998. Hull and Hitchcock sometimes clashed over their approaches to the game, but Hull admitted that Hitchcock forced him to become a better all-around player. Although the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999, the team declined to renew Hull's contract in 2001. Hull later signed with the Detroit Red Wings, who won the Stanley Cup in 2002.

For the 2002-2003 season, Hitchcock joined the Philadelphia Flyers as head coach. Hitchcock also served as the assistant coach on the Canadian men's hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, where the squad won the Gold Medal.



Diamond, Dan, ed. Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1998.


Farber, Michael. "Sniper, Anyone?" Sports Illustrated (July 30, 2001).

Floyd, Jennifer. "'The Biggest Pain in the Neck Ever." Hockey Digest (summer, 2001).

Hull, Brett. "Wild, Wild West." Sports Illustrated (June 7, 1999).


"Brett Hull: Girl's Death 'So Sad.'" Click on Detroit Web site. (March 21, 2002).

"Brett Hull." Internet Hockey Database Web site. (November 6, 2002).

"Ken Hitchcock." Philadelphia Flyers Web site. (November 13, 2002).

"Outtakes with Brett Hull." ESPN Web site. (November 6, 2002).

"Philadelphia Flyers: Ken Hitchcock." CBS SportsLine Web site. (November 13, 2002).

"Stars Win Stanley Cup!" CNN-Sports Illustrated Web site. (November 7, 2002).

Sketch by Timothy Borden

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