LAS VEGAS -- Ex-Blues great Brett Hull swells with pride when he talks about the turnaround in St. Louis this season orchestrated by his former coach, Ken Hitchcock.
Hull, who spoke to NHL.com Thursday morning from the Bellagio, said it was "an absolute no-brainer" for Blues GM Doug Armstrong and President John Davidson to bring Hitchcock on board in early November because he's the exact coach the young team needed.
"They're group of young, talented kids that needed someone to give them direction and a no-nonsense approach to how we're going to play the game," Hull said. "It was just like in Dallas, if you didn't buy in and do it the right way at 100-plus percent, you weren't going to play. That's what those kids in St. Louis needed, and it's obvious that it's true because look at them now."
The Blues are fourth in the Western Conference with 69 points. They have two games in hand on fifth place Nashville and three games in hand on first place Detroit.
"It filters through the whole team," Hull added. "You're accountable to the next guy and he's accountable to the next guy. Then you're all working together, and it just breeds success."
Hull said he thinks the Blues are built to have success for many years to come with young players like T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund, Alex Pietrangelo, David Backes, David Perron and Chris Stewart leading the way in front of one of the League's most formidable goalie tandems in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott.
"From what I understand Hitch isn't quite as dictatorial as he was, so the players aren't going, 'OK, enough, enough,' " Hull said. "I do think it's built for the long term."
He can see some similarities between the Blues and another of his former teams and employers, the Dallas Stars.
Hull, though, said the Stars right now are a "generic" team that is missing a star.
"Jamie Benn has a chance to be a really good player, but he's still a baby and he hasn't figured it all out yet," Hull said. "Kari Lehtonen is a very good goalie, but other than that it's just a very generic, workmanlike, blue-collar team."
Hull still lives in Dallas and is around the team quite a bit though he has no official title. He is happy to see that Tom Galiardi has stabilized the ownership situation there, but said the only way for the team to win back the fans is to simply win and get in the playoffs.
Dallas is currently 12th in the Western Conference, but only two points shy of eighth.
"You feel bad for the team because you've got a two-time World Series team (Texas Rangers), you've got the World Champion Dallas Mavericks, and the perennial it doesn't matter if they go 0-16 Cowboys selling out a 100,000 seat building," Hull said. "There is only so much sport dollar to go around, but the only way to get 'em back is to win. But, to win you have to have a superstar-type player. There just isn't that right now."
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