Why does it seem everyone laughs when you ask them to give you their best Brett Hull Story?
I found it funny that every person at first told me they couldn't think of a story that's clean enough to print.
you get the feeling Hull never took too many nights off away from the rink either.
I'm still trying to find a player who hated playing with him. I don't think there are any.
Hull carries a certain confidence very few athletes have in professional sports. He came into the league knowing he was great and he left the game knowing he's a legend.
Tuesday night the St. Louis Blues did the right thing by retiring the greatest Blue of all time. It was a classy ceremony that included some of the greatest players to ever play in St. Louis.
Over the last several days I spoke to some of Hull’s best friends in hockey and asked them to pass along their favorite memories.
1.) Bob Berry- Former Blues Head Coach and current pro scout for the Los Angeles Kings:
After a tough loss in Quebec against the Nordiques Berry scheduled an early morning practice before the team left town to travel to Montreal. Berry had a great relationship with Hull and knew he hated early practices. He told me Hull would never work hard during early skates. Before the practice Berry called Hull in his office and told him he really needed Hull to be on his side because he knew players were already upset about getting up early on a travel day.
Hull immediately had an issue with the very first drill and began yelling “what the **** are we doing this for!”
2.) Joe Micheletti- Former Blues coach who recently replaced John Davidson as the top NHL color commentator in the United States. He currently does color for the New York Rangers and NBC.
During a playoff game vs. Minnesota Micheletti told Hull to stay out of the box and not to take any unnecessary penalties. Hull’s very next shift he goes out and basically two hands former North Stars defenseman Stew Gavin after Gavin was abusing Hull in front of the net.
When Hull returned to the bench Micheletti said to Hull “I told you to not to take a penalty.” Hull replied “I had to let him know he can’t do that to me!”
3.) Brian Sutter- Long time Blues Captain.
Hull would never come off the ice. Sutter said he could scream and scream but sometimes it didn’t matter because Hull would completely ignore him. One time after staying out for about a 4:00 shift Hull came to the bench completely exhausted. Sutter was so mad he kicked the door shut and told Hull he wasn’t coming off and made him stay out on the ice. A power play ensued and Hull ended up staying on the ice for about six and a half minutes straight.
4.) Nicklas Lidstrom- Norris Trophy winner for the Detroit Red Wings:
The year Hull won the Stanley Cup with Detroit Freddy Olausson passed Hull a one timer for a goal. When the players were celebrating on the ice Hull said to Olausson “ It’s about time, it only took you thirty games to figure that one out.”
5.) Garth Butcher-Former Blues Captain and long time rugged NHL Defenseman:
The Blues had a day off so he Hull and Kelly Chase went out and had a few cocktails. They ended up back at Hull’s house where Butcher called a cab around 4:00 am to pick him up and to drive him home. Butcher heard the Cab driver knock on the door, but he was in the bathroom and figured the cabby would wait for him. After using the bathroom Butcher went to the door and the cab driver wasn’t there. He then went downstairs only to find the 300-pound cabby sitting on the couch between Hull and Chase singing Charlie Brown You’re a Clown on the Karaoke machine.
6.) Jamie Rivers-Blues Defenseman and very close friend of Hull’s.
One time towards the end of a Blues game in LA Head Coach Brian Sutter was trying to call Sutter off the ice but Hull kept waving him off. Finally at a stoppage of play Sutter told Sergio Momesso to go replace Hull. Hull still refused to leave the ice and Momesso skated back to the bench. After about a two and a half minute shift Hull buried the game winner with about 20 seconds left in the game. After the goal Hull skated to the bench and calmly said “Were not going into overtime in Los Angeles.” Obviously Hull had other plans in mind.
7.) Grant Fuhr- Hall of Fame Goaltender:
The Blues were called for a too many men on the ice penalty and Head Coach Mike Keenan instructed Hull to serve the penalty. Hull responded by telling Keenan he doesn’t serve penalties. Keenan then told Hull again to go serve the penalty and once again Hull said I don’t serve penalties. The ref skates over to the bench yelling we need someone to get in the box. Hull’s teammates began saying just go Hullie!
Finally Hull hopped over the boards chinstrap unbuttoned, dragging his stick behind him as he took his time and slowly skated to the box. After the penalty expired Hull stayed in the box for an extra 2-3 seconds while the door was open. He finally came out just as the puck came right in his direction. Hull would have had an easy breakaway but instead stepped over the puck and slowly skated back to the bench. In one motion he jumped over the boards and looked right at Keenan and said, “ I told you I don’t serve penalties.”
8.) Pavel Datsyuk-Red Wings star center.
Hull came back to the bench telling Datsyuk he was open on the power play and to pass him the puck. Datsyuk responded by saying you were covered. Hull looked right back at the young player and said, “I’ve scored over 400 goals covered.”
9.) Gino Cavallini-Former teammate of Hull’s in St. Louis and long time NHL winger.
It’s hard to believe that during the season in which Hull netted 86 goals he never scored one empty net or shorthanded goal. He actually never scored more than three in a game all season. One night in Quebec Hull scored three goals off goaltender Greg Millen in the first period. Hull was extremely unselfish and according to Cavallini didn’t like to draw attention to himself. Hull refused to shoot the puck the rest of the game. Later in the game Hull had a clear breakaway, the nearest player was a zone away. The crowd was on their feet hoping to see another historic goal. The arena went silent when Hull pulled up around the right face off dot and waited for Cavallini to catch up and slid the puck over to him. Cavallini scored the goal and told me he had never seen anything like it before.
10.) Kris Draper- Detroit Red Wings:
Draper had the pleasure of sitting next to Hull in the Dressing room for three seasons. He told me his right ear still hurts to this day.
Draper shared two stories with me.
On a two on one drill in practice Draper slid a perfect pass to Hull where all he had to do was tap it in for a goal. Instead Hull would just fire a pass back to Draper. After the drill Draper would ask why he didn’t bang home the puck and Hull would say, “I don’t score in practice. I don’t score when it doesn’t count”!
Hull was never known for having the greatest work ethic off the ice. During training camp when it was time for fitness testing Hull would point to the individual fitness tests drills and say No, No, No, pointing out which tests he wasn’t going to do. The only test he was ok with was the sit-ups. After the sit-ups he would yell, “Alright fellas, tee time is in an hour”.
11.) Ron Caron-Former Blues General Manager and Montreal Canadians Chief Scout:
Caron tells me that the Hull trade was his favorite trade he ever made. Caron wanted Hull big time! When he first met Brett he was fat and lazy while Hull was playing Jr. B in British Columbia.
According to Caron he became dedicated and learned how to work, play, and become a team player while playing NCAA hockey in Duluth, Minnesota. .
When Hull became an unrestricted free agent Caron told former Blues employee Suzy Mathieu to tell Hull to make sure he talks to him before he makes any decision.
Blues fans will be happy to hear that the first thing Caron told Hull was not to go to Chicago! His father Bobby was too good there. Caron told Hull to sign with Dallas because his good friend Bob Gainey would take care of him there. When Hull scored the game winner in the Stanley Cup finals against Buffalo Caron told me he cried while watching on television.
12.) Chris Pronger-Former teammate of Hull’s and former Hart and Norris Trophy winner:
One practice Hull was in one of his “Moods” and whizzed a puck a then Blues Head Coach Joel Quennville. The long time St. Luis myth is that Hull shot the puck at Quennville’s head but that never actually happened. The puck did jump off the ice a little bit as it rapidly approached “Q”. Quennville then fired a puck right back at Hull as the entire team was laughing on the ice saying “Oh Hullie”.
13.) Chris Chelios- Future Hall of Famer and long time friend of Hull’s:
A Canadian reporter one time asked Hull why he would rather play for team USA as opposed to Canada in international competition?
Hull’s answer to the reporter was “Why would I want to play for those greasy Canadians?” This obviously didn’t go over too well with Canada.
14.) Adam Oates- The other half of one of the greatest scoring duos in the history of the sport:
One night while playing in the Montreal Forum on Hockey Night In Canada Hull scored goals 69,70, and 71. The entire building gave Hull an enormous standing ovation. Oates looked at Hull and said, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this.”
On a different night in the old Chicago Stadium there were two Hull and Oates dolls that had rope tied around their necks and were hanging over the balcony. Hull looked at Oates and said, “How cool is that?” Oates replied, “Were famous!”
15.) Mike Modano-Dallas Stars superstar Center
One day during the 1999-00 season when Hull, Jere Lehtinen and Modano were playing on a line together. The coach at the time, Ken Hitchcock, kept saying at practice how scoring wasn't important. During the next drill, a two-on-one drill, Brett dumped the
puck in the corner and skated out of the zone. Hitch went crazy and
asked him what his problem was. Modano remembered Brett saying, "I thought you
said scoring goals isn't important." Hitch proceeded to kick the entire
line off the ice. Brett and Modano were getting showered and dressed and were
ready to leave when the rest of the team came off the ice. Meanwhile,
Jere was still sitting in his stall in full gear, skates laced, not
knowing what to do because he had never been kicked out of practice
16.)Kelly Chase-Long time teammate and best friend of Hull:
One night following a game Hull and chase were ready to leave the arena but realized neither of them had driven to the rink. Hull told Chase that he would get a car and be right back Hull eventually pulled up in Head Coach Bob Berry’s Jaguar. Chase was impressed that Berry allowed Hull to take his Jaguar and really didn’t think much of it because Hull and Berry were very close.
The two ended up going to a bar that night. When they were ready to leave they ran into a slight problem. As Chaser turned the key to unlock the door the key completely snapped in half and was stuck in the keyhole. It was already early in the morning and they knew it wouldn’t be easy to get a locksmith at this time of the night. The door unlocked, but they didn’t have a key to start the car. As they waited for the locksmith security joined the two for beers in the parking lot. Finally the locksmith rolled up around 7:00 in the morning.
They went directly to Brentwood ice arena to attend practice. When they arrived Berry was in an absolute rage. He had filed a police report thinking his car had been stolen. Hull ended up inviting several security people from the bar to practice to get an autographed stick from Hull. About a dozen shady characters dressed in orange jackets were at practice to collect their signed sticks. Chase had no clue Hull had just taken Berry’s keys off his desk without asking or telling him first.
This player asked for his name to be left out when he told me this story.
Each season players would give gag gifts to each other. One year Hull was given a three foot wide pacifier.
Hull used to complain that when Keenan was coaching the team they never practiced the power play enough. On Joel Quennville’s first day on the job he was designing a power play drill on the dry erase board. Hull shouted out from the back, “Oh come on, we don’t have the talent to ******* pull this off”!
The bottom line is that Hull is a treasure. A one of a kind athlete to play in the NHL. We need more characters in the game like Hull who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. The game is better because of Brett Hull. You may not always agree with him but the truth is, his teammates loved him, they respected him and were smart enough to understand they were extremely lucky to have him on their side.
The next step for The Blues ownership is to put a statue right next to Hall of Famer Bernie Federko’s in the concourse of the Scottrade Center. It only makes sense that the guy who built the arena have a statue inside as well. The Federko Statue cost the organization $125,000 dollars.
More to come,