(This article was originally published on Jan. 21, 2021)
A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Brett Hull’s hockey journey runs through the south Okanagan.
Born in Belleville, Ontario, Hull spent his teens in British Columbia. Playing in the North Shore Winter Club minor hockey system, Hull moved over to the Peach City for the 1982-83 season. He spent two seasons donning the Penticton Knights sweater.
Although eligible for the 1982 NHL Draft, Hull was passed over. In his first season in Penticton, Hull put up massive numbers of 104 points in 50 games and was a first-team all-star. However, no NHL team selected Hull in the draft.
The 1983-84 season was a little different and after getting looked over twice in the NHL Draft, Hull was on a mission. Becoming an alternate captain for the Knights, Hull had a record-breaking campaign with 105 goals and 188 points in a single season. Both are records that still hold to this day and may never be broken.
The league was rather impressed with the achievement and since has named a trophy in Hull’s honour. The Brett Hull Trophy is awarded to the player with the most points in the regular season.
After the record-breaking year in which he led the league in scoring and was once again a first-team all-star, Hull was selected in the sixth round of the 1984 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames.
Despite getting drafted, Hull didn’t turn pro but instead accepted a scholarship to the University of Minnesota-Duluth to begin play in the fall of 1984.
Hull had a stellar two seasons at UMD. During his freshman season, his 32 goals is a school record for a first-year player while adding 28 assists for 60 points. He was named rookie of the year and won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship.
In his final year at UMD, he scored 52 goals, which is still a school record. He holds the records for most power-play goals and hat tricks in a year. A finalist for the Hobey Baker award and first-team all-star, Hull had a great two years in Minnesota where his number-29 hangs from the rafters.
After his sophomore year, Hull signed with the Calgary Flames in time for their run in the Stanley Cup finals in the spring of 1986. Hull played two games in the finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
In 1986-87, Hull started his full first professional season, spending most of the time with the Flames American Hockey League affiliate in Moncton, New Brunswick. However, he did spend five games in Calgary and registered his first NHL goal.
Hull only spent one season in the AHL, where he had 92 points in 67 games. During his time in the ‘A,’ Hull was named a first-team all-star while picking up rookie of the year honours.
The 1987-88 season was Hull’s first season in the NHL, and he hit almost a point per game with the Flames by scoring 50 points in 52 games. The Flames traded Hull as there was alleged tension between him and Flames coach Terry Crisp. Crisp had Hull in the AHL and demanded Hull work on conditioning and his attitude. The Flames called the St. Louis Blues, which is where Hull finished the 1987-88 season.
His time in St. Louis was memorable, to say the least. Spanning over ten years, Hull ended up wearing a letter for the Blues during seven of those years while dawning the captaincy for three of them. During his Blues tenure, he won three Rocket Richard trophies, as well as the Lady Byng, Ted Lindsay, and Hart Trophy.
Even though he was born in Canada, Hull represented the red, white, and blue of the USA internationally, and won the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 as a member of the Blues.
Unable to come to terms on a new contract after the 1997-98 season, Hull finished his Blues career with 936 points in 744 games. As an unrestricted free agent, Hull put pen to paper and signed with the Dallas Stars for three years.
Adding to the trophy case
His scoring was down, but his highest achievement was held right above his head as Hull won the Stanley Cup with the Stars during his first season in Dallas.
Hull scored what is considered one of the most controversial Cup-winning goals in NHL history because his foot was in the crease when the puck crossed the line.
The league had a rule stating that if an attacking player’s foot is in the crease when a goal is scored, it would be disallowed. However, the NHL deemed Hull had possession of the puck and allowed the goal to stand, sending “the Golden Brett” and his Stars teammates into a frenzy.
His time in Dallas was short, and after spending three seasons in the Lone Star State, Hull packed his bag and jetted off to Michigan.
Signing with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent in 2001, Hull ended up winning his second and final Stanley Cup with one of the greatest teams the NHL has seen.
After three seasons in Detroit, Hull headed to the desert as a free agent in 2004 and signed with the Phoenix Coyotes. He inked a two-year deal, but the first was lost due to the 2004-05 lockout. Coming out of the lockout into the 2005-06 season, Hull retired after five games with the Coyotes at the age of 41.
Hull is the most significant American scorer in the NHL, finishing his career with 1,391 points in 1,269 games. After his playing days, Hull went into the front office side of the game, acting in various roles with the Stars and Blues over the years. Some of the roles include consultant, general manager, and vice president of hockey operations, among others.
A wonderful career that started in Penticton and finished at the Hockey Hall of Fame. Without a doubt, Hull is one of the most fantastic players the game has ever seen.