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Hull brings unique take to Dallas' draft

by Dan Rosen

Stars' co-GM Brett Hull had a blast while experiencing the 2008 NHL Entry Draft from his new seat.
 WATCH the 2008 NHL Entry Draft Recap
OTTAWA -- Brett Hull's first foray into the NHL Entry Draft as a general manager went by like a snail crossing a highway.

The Stars didn't have a first-round pick and had no rhyme or reason to give up present assets just to trade up to grab one, so Friday night's first round dragged on with little to no action surrounding Dallas' draft table at the back of the Scotiabank Place floor.

"Boring isn't the right word," Hull, the Dallas Stars co-GM, told "I think of the Bataan Death March."

Hull, who splits his GM duties with longtime NHL executive Les Jackson, was more into the show Saturday as the Stars owned five picks. The former 600-goal scorer, who used to only take interest in the NHL Entry Draft when current players were traded, was having a blast while experiencing the action from his new seat.

"It does (get interesting) because you're talking to people and wondering about what is going on," said Hull, who was at the draft last year in his advisor's role to then-GM Doug Armstrong. "You have an interest now in the players that are taken and how they affect your team, where your future and your needs lie. There is definitely more of a vested interest."

Hull's involvement at the executive level may come as a surprise to some people in the business, considering his fun-loving attitude and his history of being critical of NHL general managers during his playing career, but former Red Wings teammate Steve Yzerman, now in the front-office game too, saw it coming.

"Oh yeah," Yzerman quipped to "Just playing with him in Detroit we sat on the plane and sat at dinner and we talked hockey all the time. We talked about different moves and different things people want to do. So, I'm not the least bit surprised. He always expressed an interest to be involved."

But this involved?

"Yeah, not really," Ken Holland, the Wings GM, said. "He loves golf. I figured he would be on the pro tour, but he wanted to stay in the game. He has a great passion for the game. He's a smart guy. You know he knows all about hockey. The time commitment, though, surprises me. I really figured he would be on the pro tour."

Hull took his first draft as a GM in stride only because there was little excitement. The Stars didn't pick until No. 59, well after any of the half-dozen to dozen NHL-ready players had been taken.

"When you sit here and your first pick is at 59, it's just who is there is there," Hull said. "There are good players, but the scouts have everybody at the levels so it's not like you're trying to figure out what to do at four or five. At 59, it's not rocket science."

Hull said he doesn't worry too much about getting involved in amateur scouting, so a lot of the names being tossed around the Stars' table were new to him.

"We have meetings, but if you don't trust (your scouts) then you should just fire them and get new ones," Hull said. "They're your lifeblood. With the salary cap now, this is how you have to build your team – through the draft."

For the most part, Hull and Jackson have it worked out so Jackson mans the phones when other teams come calling about trades and the like. The Stars, though, did not make a single trade in a draft full of movement.

"There is a game plan coming in. It's not like we're sitting here doing anything," Hull said. "If someone calls, we talk about it and we know who we might want to move and for what. He mans the phones and it works."

The last thing Hull said he would have suggested was a trade to push the Stars into the first round to make Friday night at least somewhat interesting. There was no reason to make one because the Stars didn't have any high picks to give away and they were only two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

"You don't want to start dismantling," Hull said. "Your ego can't get in the way of this. You have to do what is right for the organization."

That's music to any GM's ears, but Holland, the Wings' boss, wonders how long Hull is going to stay in this position.

"I think he can, but it depends on the program he's in," Holland said. "Brett loves to golf. Brett loves to have fun. I don't know that Brett wants to put in 80-hour weeks and I don't know if Brett needs to put in 80-hour weeks."

Still, Holland said this marriage with Jackson could be the perfect fit. Hull has a voice in all the decisions, but he does not need to take on all the responsibilities.

"If you're looking for him to work six to seven days a week and 80 hours a week when you know he likes to golf and he's financially secure; no I don't think he would be long for the job," Holland said. "If you play to his strengths, which are to make sure you let him enjoy life and bring him in at key times, absolutely he is long for the job."

Hull might have been thinking differently after his uninspiring Friday night.

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