When Brett Hull signed with the Phoenix Coyotes back in August of 2004, one request by his father, Bobby Hull, was that his son, wear the number that made him famous while playing for the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets.
On Saturday night, in a pre-game ceremony before Phoenix played the Minnesota Wild in their home-opener, the Coyotes un-retired Bobby Hull's No. 9 from the rafters and put it on the back of Brett to wear for the rest of his career in a Coyotes uniform.
"My brothers and sister and I grew up watching my dad, while wearing No. 9, have success and love life as an NHL player," said Hull. "My children have seen those same images of their grandfather and his passion for the game. Thanks to my dad, I look forward to my kids being able to see me play with that same passion while also wearing No. 9. I'll wear it proudly."
The No. 9 was originally retired by the Winnipeg Jets franchise on February 19, 1989 in a ceremony at the Winnipeg Arena in honor of Bobby Hull, who played for the Jets from 1972-1979. The number had remained retired by the Coyotes organization since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996.
"I am very proud to have Brett wear the same No. 9 for the Phoenix Coyotes that I wore for the Winnipeg Jets," said Bobby Hull. "My years in Winnipeg were some of the fondest and most memorable of my career. We had great teams and we won championships. Brett has had an incredible career and I look forward to seeing him attempt to bring championships to the Coyotes while wearing my number."
General Manager Mike Barnett brought up the possibility of Brett wearing No. 9 when Hull signed with the Coyotes after the 2003-04 season.
"It was an honor for this organization to formally retire Bobby Hull's jersey at center ice in 1989," said Barnett. "Deservedly, no player has worn No. 9 for this franchise since that evening in Winnipeg. It is no less of an honor to confirm that Bobby Hull has happily agreed to temporarily un-retire his famous No. 9 in order for his son Brett to further enhance the image of the Hull name, wearing No. 9., scoring highlight goals in arenas throughout the NHL. All hockey fans, and particularly our fans in Phoenix, will surely enjoy watching Brett Hull perform while paying tribute each night to his legendary father."
For Bobby Hull, the night was more than just a ceremony, which saw his name and number added to the Coyotes ring of honor. It was a father, watching his son exceed his wildest expectations.
"I don't know what I did to deserve to have a son come along and thrill his dad the way Brett has thrilled me," said Hull. "I must have done something right as a kid to deserve this gift."
Bobby also pointed out that wearing the No. 9 sweater shouldn't carry any extra burden or expectation. It is just a gesture from one NHL great to another.
"I want Brett to have as much fun wearing No. 9 as I did," said Hull. "It's a very special thing and I think he feels the same way."