Any time the name Hull is mentioned in St. Louis Blues fan circles, it’s usually talking about greatness. However, sometimes we forget how great he was.
The interesting thing about the passage of time is how it can alter your perception of people. There is a group of St. Louis Blues fans that really only know Brett Hull for his drunken antics over the last few years.
As amusing as those can be, and were – I particularly like the nipple rubbing memes – they cloud his playing accomplishments. We can easily forget how great he actually was.
Hull made things look so effortless that you could almost think he was lazy at times. He was fast, but never a blazer. He had a booming shot, but never evoked the fear of Al MacInnis. Hull had stick handling ability, but did not wow you with moves the way some of the Russian Detroit Red Wings players might.
Simply put, he did everything well (except defense). Even so, his name still gets lost in the shuffle at times.
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Hull still lives in the shadow of his father for older fans. For younger fans, they either saw Hull with other teams or missed out on his career completely.
Hull’s best days were with the Blues, though. He might have won more team accomplishments elsewhere, but the points and goals came in droves in St. Louis.
One of those goals, a big career milestone, came 24 years ago today. On December 22, 1996 Hull scored his 500th career goal against the Los Angeles Kings.
Hull’s trademark smile had returned at that point, mostly because Mike Keenan had just been relieved of his duties with the Blues a few days before.
In typical Hull fashion, he couldn’t just score a single goal to get his 500th. Hull scored a hat trick against the Kings, with the third goal being that magic number.
Hull always had a flair for the dramatic. It should have come as no surprise that he’d get to 500 with a three-goal night.
27 of his 34 career hat tricks came with the Blues, after all. It was almost a four-goal night for Hull, but his first “goal” of the night was eventually credited to Stephane Matteau, though Hull knew about that before his actual first goal.
St. Louis would win that game 7-4. It improved their record to 16-19-1 at the time, after going 15-17-1 under Keenan before his ouster.
That Blues squad was somewhat inconsistent through the year, much of that due to the coaching shuffle. There was talent there, but not as much depth as Keenan’s grit players had filled up the bottom half of the roster.
For Hull’s part, he would go on to score 241 more goals in his career after that moment. Plenty of NHL players would have loved to have 241 career goals, much less 241 after the age of 32.
While Hull would eclipse the 500 mark again, scoring 527 with the Blues alone before his departure in 1998, the ending was not fitting for a player that brought so much joy to Blues fans. Hull played his own part, being too vocal in the media, even for him.
But, we still have memories like this of how great he was. Hull was one of those players that scored so often that you almost expected it and might actually be disappointed if he did not score multiple goals.
He averaged slightly more than a goal every other game in his career. Out of every 10 games he played with the Blues, he averaged seven goals over that span.
Hull was a special player. Thankfully we have lots of footage of his playing days so that we don’t only remember him for being a goof after the fact.