Brett Hull was a teammate of Brendan Shanahan's with the St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings, and won a Stanley Cup together with the Red Wings in 2002. Hull was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
When Brendan Shanahan joined us with the St. Louis Blues he was 22 years and had established himself early in his career as a guy who could score about 25 or 30 goals a season. We knew there was more that he could do. He did too, but all he needed was some guidance.
He stopped, looked, listened and became a two-time 50-goal scorer. The fact that he was willing to do that, to watch and listen and learn from other great players, helped make him a Hall of Fame player.
But Brendan would not have been a Hall of Fame player without his talent. The guy could do it all.
He could fight, and you wouldn't want to drop the gloves with him, that's for sure. He could kill penalties and be your sniper on the power play. He obviously was an unbelievable goal scorer and he could make plays. Beyond that he was a natural leader -- a born leader.
It all makes me wonder how the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee missed him last year. How was he not voted in last year, his first year of eligibility?
He had more than 600 goals, more than 1,300 points and played in more than 1,500 games. He won the Stanley Cup three times. He won an Olympic gold medal. It's incredible, but at least he's in now.
I've been asked if I could tell that he would develop into a Hall of Fame player when he first got to St. Louis in 1991. I'm not going to say that. I can't say that. At that time I was at the point in my career when I was figuring out what I could do. I wasn't sure what a Hall of Fame player was, but I knew he had ridiculously raw talent to go along with his size and strength.
And you don't score more than 600 goals without the ability to score them in so many ways.
Brendan is known for his quick release on his wrist shot, but he could score from the slot by tipping pucks in or with his big one-timer. Yes, he was lethal off the rush with his wrist shot, but the best part of the way he played is that he could score in all those ways and then he'd go and fight a guy like Derian Hatcher if he had to.
Brendan would fight any tough guy that got in his way. And the little pests on the ice, the guys that everybody wants to hit, he had no problem taking care of those guys either.
Guys who were looked at as fighters wouldn't go after the pests because they were beneath them -- and, frankly, hard to catch and bait into dropping the gloves anyway. Brendan didn't care. He'd deter those guys as much as he would the tough guys. It would help him control the game. He would basically control the game with his presence because everyone respected him.
We became teammates again with the Detroit Red Wings in 2001, six years after he was traded out of St. Louis. He was a different guy at that point, married with kids, but he was the same player. In fact, he was way more respected by that point so he didn't have to fight as much. The game had also changed in a way that the guys who scored 50 or 60 goals became guys who would score 30 or 40.
It didn't affect the way Brendan played.
Scotty Bowman, the coach in Detroit at the time, had him on the penalty kill and the power play. He would put Brendan out on the ice when the opposing team pulled its goalie to create a 6-on-5 late in games.
Brendan was a great player, a well-respected player and a well-liked teammate. He got along with everyone and the way he played made everyone respect him.
It was no surprise to me that he took on a leading role in fostering change in the game during the 2004-05 lockout. To stand up and do what he did, you just have to tip your hat to him.
There are some changes that came out of his meeting of the minds that I, for one, do not agree with, but you're never going to have people agree with everything that's going on in the game anyway. The fact that Brendan took the time to try to make some good out of a bad situation speaks to the type of player he was and person he is.
He used to be the guy who needed some guidance, but as the years went on he became the guy providing the guidance.
He belongs in the Hall of Fame.
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