Thursday, December 07, 2006

Go Brett! - My youthful Aquaintance to the Hull family

Who could love hockey and not love Brett Hull?

Hockey best beneficiary of pedigree was one of the game's all time greats, a character on and off the ice, the voice of outspoken truth, and a champion of fun in hockey.

I was saddened a year ago when the Golden Brett hung it up after just five games with the Coyotes. I was at work when I caught a news clip announcing his retirement. I was so caught off guard, that I began writing a piece on his career right then and there on my break.

The piece became my first ever published work. By coincidence, the very next day, my daughter had a school trip planned for the local newpaper, for which I'd signed up to be a guide. By sheer luck, I was actually able to obtain the negative of the page from the printing press, with the story on it! Quite a momento!

My angle for beginning the Hull story had something to do with the fact that I attended high school with Brett's brothers Blake and Bobby Jr. I sat next to Blake in marketing class and walked home from school woth him on a number of occasions.

The son's father, the legendary Bobby Hull, had placed his boys in town, as he thought the Cornwall Royals would be the perfect grooming place for his sons as the team was in the midst of taking back to back Memorial Cups and was seen as an exempliary organization at the time.

Unfortunately, Brett's older brothers had nowhere near his talent. They languished in the system for a year and never amounted to much as hockey players.

Brett was 14 at the time.

I should get around to scanning their high school yearbook photo's and reprinting the article at some point. Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk also attended my school that year.

It gives me a bit of a funny feeling to look back on Brett Hull's career. I'm just 44, but yet it makes me feel old in some way, remembering all that.

One week, Blake and I, turned our shared double desk into an album cover tribute to Pink Floyd's "The Wall". One brick at a time! I wonder if he remembers that! We were of course caught red handed and forced to give it a good scrub with S.O.S. pads.

One time, Brett got severely scolded by our teacher, Mr. Merrizzi. Blake got roundly told off for not paying any attention in class. Merrizzi asked Blake something along the line of - "Just because your Dad s a famous hockey player, what makes you think you can get away with coasting in my class?"

Blake, oblivious to the message being sent, answered, "Well how many goals did your father score in the NHL?'
The stunned look on Merrizzi's face at that reply had me rolling out of my chair. He forgot all about Blake's quip and gave me a detention.

The attitude was classic Hull!

Last I heard, Blake was selling real estate in Boulder, Colorado. Prior to that, he'd worked for Phil Esposito in the PR department with the Tampa Bay Lightening in the mid nineties. Every so many years here in town, we get the odd oldtimers games, and Bobby Hull ( no, he doesn't still play) comes along for the ride, doing promo. I catch up on Blake's whereabouts and the Golden Jet actually remembered me the second time we spoke.

That felt so odd!

Sharing a double desk with his brother and witnessing a certain Hull arrogance and confidence was surely some weird priveledge. I must admit, these boys never kept their tongues in their pockets.

With all that in mind, I've been doing some internet lookups on the Golden Brett and came up with this beauty while searching out great Hull quotes.

In an interview with Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte , the host played the word association game with the always outspoken Hull. Among Hull's gems:

Ken Hitchock was a "great coach before the rule changes" and that the man he hated most in hockey was coach Mike Keenan. "He ruined more people's careers and enjoyed doing it," Hull said. "I don't have any use for him."
Hull also mentioned at one point in time that he advised Wayne Gretzky not to go to St. Louis, because of Keenan. Hull said it was the one time Gretzky didn't listen to him.

Brett Hull is aparently making inroads into a hockey broadcasting career.

What would be more suitable?

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