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Brett Hull's longest three hours

by Evan Weiner

"To be just mentioned with Gordie Howe, my father, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, I mean it is hard to fathom when you start as a kid to ever think that it would culminate into this crowning achievement, it is just mind boggling." -- Brett Hull

The morning of June 23, 2009 was not a good one for Brett Hull.

The Hockey Hall of Fame announcement was going to be made later that day, but Hull may have jumped the gun by saying to someone he was going to be inducted into the Toronto shrine. Somehow, that got onto the ESPN SportsCenter ticker that runs on the bottom of the TV screen hours before the official announcement.

At that point, it dawned on Hull that he might have done something awfully stupid.

"I got a call from our PR (public relations) department in Dallas and I didn't know how it (the Hall of Fame announcement) necessarily worked," Hull said. "So, I assumed that when he told me he got a call from Toronto and that they wanted me to do a couple of interviews, I assumed that the call was, 'OK, we are going to help you get some PR ahead of the announcement and so have them do these articles so when it is announced they will be ready to go.

"So I did want they wanted me to do and then it is on the ticker in the morning; Brett Hull says he is in the Hall of Fame and I'm like 'Oh boy, are you kidding?' I started sweating and pacing around my house. Finally the call came about 12:30 that day and it made it a lot easier.

"It was such a bad bit of communication, it almost killed me. It had to be the worst three hours of my life. It would not have been bad if say the article came out in the Dallas Morning News, but it was on the ticker on ESPN."

The awful start to the day eventually led to relief and the realization that Brett Hull had a great NHL career.

For Hull, it was the second time that a Hockey Hall of Fame called him to honor him since his retirement in 2006. He was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on October 29, 2008.

"It is quite an honor to be in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, but the Hockey Hall of Fame is obviously the Holy Grail of the NHL and professional hockey and no different from Cooperstown (baseball), or Canton (football) or Springfield (basketball). That is where you want to be," said Hull, whose father Bobby entered the Hall of Fame in 1983.

"To be just mentioned with Gordie Howe, my father, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, I mean it is hard to fathom when you start as a kid to ever think that it would culminate into this crowning achievement, it is just mind boggling.

"It is such an honor to just to think of yourself in those terms with all of the people ahead of you. It is hard to fathom. I never really pictured myself as that great, like a Hall of Fame type person. I will tell you what though, since the announcement, it has been nothing but a thrill."

The Hulls, Bobby and Brett are the first father-son combination ever elected to the Toronto Hall.

"(Bobby) was as proud as a peacock," Brett said. "He is obviously a proud father and singing my praises. I think it is going to be a great week and a great night when we are all together."

Brett Hull's numbers are among the best ever put up in the NHL. He scored 741 goals, which includes an 86-goal season with St. Louis in 1990-91. Hull had three 70 or more goal seasons, scored the game winning goal that gave the Dallas Stars the 1999 Stanley Cup. Hull also was a member of the 2002 Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Championship team. He is the only player to score 50 or more goals in a season in college hockey (Minnesota-Duluth, 52 goals in 1985-86), the American Hockey League and the NHL.

The Hull family is a part of hockey royalty. Bobby Hull was feared with his devastating slap shot and Dennis Hull, Brett's uncle, might have had an even harder shot.

Dennis Hull watched an awful lot of Bobby Hull's games as his teammate in Chicago in the 1960s and 1970s and saw Brett as he was growing up playing hockey.

"He (Brett) was good right from the start," Dennis said. "He was good in junior, he was good at university, he was good wherever he played."
"He (Brett) was good right from the start. He was good in junior, he was good at university, he was good wherever he played." -- Dennis Hull
While Dennis was convinced Brett could play, not everyone agreed. Despite setting goal-scoring records with the Penticton Knights of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League, Brett was only a sixth-round choice of the Calgary Flames in 1984. Team Canada didn't like him very much either, so he opted to play for Team USA in the 1986 World Hockey Championships. He was able to do so because he had dual citizenship in the United States and Canada as his mother was an American.

Calgary didn't see much in him and traded him to St. Louis in 1988 where he became a star.

"They (the scouts) weren't watching very closely. Chicago had a chance to draft him but (GM) Bob Pulford said he could not play. (Brett) knew how to play the game and shoot better than anybody else, put those too together and you get a goal scorer," said Dennis Hull. "He was my nephew, I thought he was really good, he scored 50 goals in the American League (with Moncton in 1986-87) and Calgary didn't think he was good enough to play there and they traded him. Lots of people didn't see what he ended up being.

"He knew how to score goals and he knew where to go and get the puck to score goals. That is the secret. Lots of guys don't know that.

"Bobby controlled the whole game, Brett controlled the statistics. Bobby was better than Brett, come on. He killed penalties, he did everything, Bobby. I mean he controlled the whole game, Brett did for brief minutes."

Brett Hull scored 741 regular-season goals and had 103 more in the playoffs. Bobby Hull had 610 regular-season goals and 62 more in the playoffs. Dennis Hull was no slouch either as he scored 303 goals during his career and played in five All-Star Games. Dennis might not be good enough to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but he is the "Third Best Hull" which got Brett to thinking. Should Dennis be in the Toronto hallowed hockey hall?

"I don't see why not," said Hull of his uncle's credentials for inclusion to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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