There's something about tradition and family when it comes to hockey; it is what makes the sport as amazing and life changing as it is. With this article, I'm able to remember some of those life-changing times and remember times gone by that seem in some ways just like yesterday.
I knew the name Brett Hull, and to be honest, for much of his career, I only liked him playing next to Mike Modano in the Olympics, otherwise he was a St. Louis Blue, and an enemy. Not to overshadow his time as a Blue, it was a legendary time in his career, but I will let a Blues fan who knows that stretch much better than myself right that article.
For me, all I can tell is the end of his career.
My father often brought home big Stars or NHL news home from work when I was a kid, and I remember like it was yesterday the day he brought home the printed page reporting the Stars signing Brett Hull.
My father and I smiled together, knowing the change to the Stars for the upcoming season, and although nothing was said regarding it, we were both dreaming of a Stars Stanley Cup with the new addition.
To call Hull a personality in Dallas is an understatement. From the beginning, he seemed to be the missing piece. He made Ken Hitchcock's blood-pressure rise and elevated the play of every Star he played with. With talents in the organization such as Sergei Zubov, Mike Modano, Guy Carbonneau, and Joe Nieuwendyk, Hull was one of many talents but always found a way to be front and center.
To the heartbreak of many Blues fans, Hull loved Dallas, and he loved being a Star, and it showed in his work ethic on the ice.
With his new identity in Dallas, Hull changed to No. 22, since his legendary 16 was taken by feisty enforcer Pat Verbeek. Ironically, I think there was a purpose behind the number change: Hull needed a fresh start and a fresh identity, and in Dallas he got one.
When Hull had the puck on his stick, my father and I always held our breath, anticipating a goal, and we both always took notice to the energy the entire Dallas team showed when Hull was on the ice.
Most of those moments Hull's first season in Dallas were met with my father recollecting on Bobby Hull, and his memories of watching Brett's father. He commented once that I'd never know Bobby as a player, but at least I would know Brett.
I have had the blessing of not only seeing Brett as a player, but as a co-general manager and front office official with the Stars. I saw his jersey retired by St. Louis, and anticipate the same from Dallas, things my father never got to see.
Brett Hull's Stanley Cup winning goal brought the trophy to North Texas for the first time ever in 1999. The look on Hull's face was that of pure joy, and the relief of finally winning was easily seen. While the goal may be questionable (give it a rest, it's been 10 years) the joy and dedication of Hull in those playoffs is without question.
Hull's stint with Dallas was shorter than many Stars fans had hoped, and he would end up playing for the rival Red Wings and winning another cup with Detroit. Sadly, the only autograph of one of my father and my favorite hockey players would be from Hull as a Red Wing, but the jersey never mattered for Hull; he loved the game, and he left it all on the ice.
Hull finished as a Coyote, sorta. After a short stint with the Coyotes in 2005, after the lockout, Hull felt his game wasn't up to par and retired in October. The organization, which had retired his father's No. 9 as the Winnipeg Jets allowed Hull to wear the number as a Coyote. A truly great moment for the father-son hockey duo.
With Brett's No. 16 hanging in the rafters in St. Louis, and Bobby's No. number 9 in Phoenix, the Hull's are the only father-son duo to have their numbers retired in the NHL.
Hull couldn't leave hockey forever and returned to the Stars in a front-office role, and before long, due to the firing of GM Doug Armstrong, became a Co-GM for the team he'd help lead to the Stanley Cup.
Going out on a limb, Hull helped sign controversial agitator Sean Avery, which likely sealed the end of the Co-GM situation. Regardless of the signing's failure, Hull is still a major voice in the organization and will help new GM, and former Star teammate, Joe Nieuwendyk turn the Stars back into a team like they remember, a champion.
Brett's play touched so many lives, his abilities, talents, and personality made it easy for boys to idolize him. With his, among many other great hockey players being added to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 9, it becomes clear the old guard of the NHL is slowly disappearing, which is why I write this homage.
Even with the memories fading, the jersey's hanging, and the old film clips looking older by the year it becomes clear that Brett's career is over. It's clear my son will never know Brett Hull the player. Instead, my son will likely know Brett Hull the front office builder of Dallas Stars Stanley Cup Champions.
From a long time fan, Thanks for the memories of the past, and those yet to come Brett. Congratulations on your achievements, because no matter what you achieved in your career you were a class act and never forgot us, the fans.
Ken Armer is a Community Leader for the NHL and the Dallas Stars for Bleacher Report. He also covers the Anaheim Ducks for SoCalSportsHub.com and covers the Texas and Dallas Stars for Hockey54.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
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