Many of his
goals, though, are coming at a cost. Hull is taking more hits than ever.
"But it's cool," says Blues tough-guy Kelly Chase, "because Brett's
starting to give it back."
Hull gave as good
as he got last month against the Minnesota North Stars. Minnesota goalie Darcy
Wakaluk slashed Hull, who had been trespassing near the crease, across the
shins. Skating away, Hull whacked Wakaluk in the back of the head with his
stick. This is the Brett Hull who won the 1989-90 Lady Byng Trophy, given for
While behind the
Philadelphia Flyer net early in the season, Hull, not exactly known for his
physical play, knocked Flyer forward Rod Brind'Amour off the puck and then
passed to Oates, who fed Hull for an easy goal. Brind'Amour, who played
previously with the Blues, fixed his ex-teammate with a stare that said, Brett,
is that you?
machismo has not been the only thing out of the ordinary for Hull this season.
Around Christmas, his father was quoted in a Canadian Press story as saying
that Brett needed "to get his head screwed on straight." Brett had some
choice words to say about his old man, none suitable for publication. Earlier,
St. Louis G.M. Ron Caron had also done some bashing. "Hull and Oates
float," said Caron. "They're not happy unless they play 30 or 40
The fans' abuse
of Oates came to a head on Jan. 14, when the Blues played the Washington
Capitals at home. Oates is perhaps the best passer this side of Gretzky, yet
with a $420,000 salary this season, he is only the fifth-highest-paid St. Louis
player. Oates wants to renegotiate his contract, which he has already done
twice since signing it in 1989. Every time Oates touched the puck in St.
Louis's 6-1 loss to the Caps, he was roundly booed. Afterward Hull was furious.
"Anyone who booed tonight is a loser," he said. "It made me
One fan held up a
sign during the game that read ADI-OATES. Hull called him "a fat,
bald-headed bastard" and said, "I felt like climbing up there and
ripping his head off."
A day later, at
Mathieu's prompting, Hull phoned a local sportswriter to issue an apology—and
then proceeded to pump in five goals in his next three games. Clearly, neither
controversy nor front-office miscalculations nor dark of night can keep Hull
from the completion of his appointed mission: filling the net the way no one
else in the NHL can.