Friday, August 06, 2004

Brett Hull leaves Detroit for Phoenix

Brett Hull signed a two-year contract with the Coyotes today, ending weeks of speculation that had the outspoken winger going to Dallas or Phoenix (with a little Pittsburgh as well). Financial terms are not known at the moment UPDATE: The deal is for $4.5 million with perfomance incentive clauses built in. Hull earned $5 million last year with the Wings. UPDATE 2: Brett will wear #9, which the Coyotes had retired in honor of his father, Bobby, who played for the organization when they were the Winnepeg Jets of the WHA. That's an obvious show of confidence in Hull and excitement by the organization, since numbers are rarely if ever un-retired.
The NHL's third-place all-time goal scorer (741) has indicated a desire to try and pass Wings legend Gordie Howe (801) to move in to second place behind the un-catchable Wayne Gretzky (894). That he will be able to do it is questionable at best and the very fact that he wants to actively pursue it is contrary to his own father's, Bobby Hull's, view on the matter:
"Before I went to the WHA, folks asked me what I'm going to do when I approach Gordie. I said that I'm going to score one less goal than Howe, then retire. I don't think I could have gone by the great old man."
Bobby probably could have passed Gordie, since he left the NHL for the WHA with 610 goals. He went on to score 303 goals for the Winnipeg Jets of the original World Hockey Association. After a disappointing performance in last year's playoffs (and the year before), it was decided by the Wings not to bring Hull back. Apparently, the feeling was mutual as Brett was not happy about the reduced ice time he had been given in the postseason by head coach Dave Lewis. There never was any chance of a return and he's been on the market the whole summer.
Brett had three great years here in Detroit (92 goals, 115 assists, 207 points and one Stanley Cup) and I'm definitely going to miss him. I wasn't the biggest Hull fan before he came here in 2001 but I remember calling for Ken Holland to sign him after I realized he was still available towards the start of the season. It turned out to be arguably the Wings' best signing that summer, especially since Brett's 18 points in the playoffs that year (10G, 8A) went a long way in winning the Cup. Some thought he should have won the Conn Smythe (I was one). That year he played on the short-lived "600 Goal Club Line" with Steve Yzerman and Luc Robataille as well as the original "Two Kids and an Old Goat Line" with Pavel Datsyuk and Boyd Devereaux. When Henrik Zetterberg came to the team in 2002-2003, that line became famous for it's amazing chemistry and earned the younger two members a position of respect around the league. Some of the most exciting goals and plays I've ever seen were scored by those three and I'm definitely going to miss that line. One of the classier things I've heard about in years was Brett's decision to wear #17 instead of his #16 when he came to the team, in honor of the Wings' unofficial retirement of Vladimir Konstantinov's jersey. That earned him my respect, to be sure. As much as I've come to like Hull over the past three years, I have to say that I think his decision to go to Phoenix costs him a chunk of my respect. I would have rather seen him go back to Dallas, where he at least has some history, rather than go to another new team only to fail and end his career in a bad way. He was "losing it" noticeably at the end of his time here in Detroit and probably should be hanging 'em up instead of trying to make a go at passing Howe. That said, my thoughts on Brett in Phoenix would change dramatically if this happens. Those two on the same team would be hilarious. I think Steve Ovadia's idea of a Hull-Roenick talk show is awesome. Maybe in a couple years they'll be on HNIC, which would be a good replacement for The Coach when his time really is up. Good luck in Phoenix, Brett. We'll miss you!


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