30 years ago, the St. Louis Blues made a trade with the Calgary Flames, receiving a dude named Brett Hull. He had rock star hair, but could he score and live up to the name carried by his old man?
The son of the legendary Bobby Hull, the at the time 23 year old winger wasted little time in informing St. Louis that he was kind of a big deal. Hull didn’t do this with leather-bound books or floors carrying the scent of rich mahogany; he do so by scoring six goals and adding eight assists in just 13 games.
Over the next four seasons, Hull would score 269 goals for the Blues, including 92 power play goals. He was a freak and would change things forever for the St. Louis hockey community.
Hull made me fall in love with Blues hockey and the sport as a whole. I couldn’t get enough of the guy. For a kid who loved action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, Hull was an action flick on the ice, but he was the real deal. You didn’t need special effects to make a Hull one-timer look good. The man didn’t require a stunt double for the very cool scoring chances. He was all over the ice, reckless in the best possible way.
With Hull in tow, the Blues were like Tom Cruise in The Color of Money. When a rival hockey team walked up to the Blues in warm-ups and asked who was that guy wearing #16, the head coach just said: “doom!”
The goaltenders and defense couldn’t stop him; they only hoped to contain his blistering slap shot or howitzer one-time blast. Hull could find those areas on the ice where a defense was weak or just flat out over-matched.
To me, Brett Hull was St. Louis Blues hockey. He was the guy who went up against Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour in the 1990’s. Hull was the knight that the Blues sent to the bridge to warn oncoming bodies that it wouldn’t end well. He scored 527 goals total in St. Louis. All those goals couldn’t bring a Stanley Cup to the Lou though, and that’s sad.
The Blues didn’t re-sign Hull, letting him walk to Dallas and Detroit for a pair of Stanley Cups. A new style of play was orchestrated under Joel Quenneville, who took over for the team in the late 1990’s. Hull was molded into a two way hockey player under Ken Hitchcock in Dallas, something Coach Q couldn’t do in St. Louis. It was almost as sad as the front office not extending Adam Oates, who was Hull’s playmaking center for many years. It was like Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals. Sad, but true to the nature of the game.
Like many great things in life, The Hull spectacle in St. Louis couldn’t last forever. It wasn’t just his play on the ice. The man was a walking soundbite in the locker room, saying what he meant and never caring to filter it. I loved that about him. He was the guy making holy shit plays on the ice and someone who could sit next to you at the same bar and talk candidly.
Today, Vladimir Tarasenko is held to the same standard as Hull. A goal scorer who must do the miraculous in order to stay elite. Hull is the reason the Russian gets grilled for taking games off or being a non-factor in certain contests. The scary part is #91 being another Blue that scores a lot of goals without raising a cup in St. Louis. Tarasenko could be the sad sequel to Hull. Let’s hope not.
An executive with the Blues front office these days and someone who never stops smiling, Hull stands as the most legendary Blue in franchise history. He made hockey so exciting and easy to watch. Back in the day when Corsi and Fenwick weren’t clogging minds and goals scored was the sexiest stat known to man and woman.
He’s the reason I started watching hockey. I’m sure that I’m not the only one to share that sentiment. Plenty of fans grew up watching the Golden Brett slice pucks through thin air and into nets where goaltenders were meant to defend.
30 years ago, a stud named Brett arrived in St. Louis, changing the town forever.