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hockey

No more Hullitzer

The third-leading goal scorer in NHL history has retired. Brett Hull made the announcement yesterday, two hours before he would have played with his Phoenix Coyote teammates against the Detroit Red Wings. At 41 years of age, as Hull put it, “the mind is willing but the body isn’t.”
Which is a true shame, because with the type of high-speed game the new NHL rules have created this season, Hull would have had the chance to really shine on the ice. This style of play is tailor-made for players like Hull, his former Dallas teammate Mike Modano, and many others. Hull, even at 41, still has, I’m sure, one of the best one-timer shots in the game. He was so effective and powerful with the one-timer when he played here in Dallas, it lead Stars color man Daryl Reaugh to nickname Brett “the Hullitzer.”
My first year in Dallas was also Brett Hull’s. He had signed with the Stars in the off-season, coming over from St. Louis. I have a Brett Hull #22 jersey I bought the night of the first Stars home game of the 1998-99 season, a game my wife and I attended. Many people were surprised Hull was not wearing his customary #16, but when Hull arrived in Dallas, that number was already being worn by Pat Verbeek. This could have been an occasion for ego-flexing, but Hull showed a lot of class and chose another number. This is an extremely underrated side of Brett Hull; most people, when they’re not discussing his playing prowess, focus on his big mouth.
My only druther is we seem to be discussing Hull as being dead, instead of merely retiring. Take this quote from NHL Commissioner Bettman (good job on that OLN TV deal, Gary; I’m sure it will bring in tons of new viewers):

“The National Hockey League will miss Brett’s skill, his scoring touch and his fun-loving attitude,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “He was a splendid athlete, a passionate player and someone who never hesitated to speak his mind. His achievements further cement the Hull family legacy of hockey greatness.”
Um, Commissioner, last time I looked, Hull is still a splendid athlete, he is still very passionate about the game, even if he will no longer play, and I seriously doubt he is ever going to hesitate to speak his mind, now and in the future. He’s retiring as a player of the game at its highest level; he’s not dead. He has expressed interest in working in management. Seeing as how his best friend is coach of that Phoenix team, and a part-owner in same, that may be closer than most think. Brett Hull is retiring as a player, but I expect we will see him around NHL circles for a long time to come.
Thanks, Brett, for some great memories.