I wish Brett Hull the very best on his new position as co-, soon to be fulltime, GM of the Dallas Stars.
I mean that.
I have long admired The Golden Brett’s passion for the game, even if I think he could dig a little deeper if he is serious about making an impact on the sport at the professional level.
He might not have been the hardest working player to ever skate in the NHL, but he had a grasp on what the paying fan wanted and expected – goals!
When the game was sinking to its lowest levels, with offense all but forgotten, Hull protested long and loud about where the sport was headed, driving his defense-minded coaches nuts along the way.
Hey, the guy liked to score goals – is there anything wrong with that?
No. But at the end of the day, it was one of those defense-first coaches, Ken Hitchcock, who guided Hull to the Stanley Cup championship that guaranteed him employment in the NHL beyond his playing days.
Hull should not overlook this.
While we’re on the subject, my advice to Hull – if he is indeed serious about being a big-league manager – is to seek out the best managers in the game for advice on how he should approach the job.
One of my favorite hockey stories is how a young (he’s still freekin’ young!) Dean Lombardi sat all night in the office of Lou Lamoriello and learned about managing a team at the feet of one of the masters. Lamoriello kindly walked step-by-step through his background, important insights and information that helped Lombardi build the San Jose Sharks, and now the Los Angeles Kings, into solid franchises.
If I am Brett Hull, I call Bob Gainey and ask him about patience as a GM. How developing and sticking with a game plan is better than always being on the lookout for a one-timer.
If I am Brett Hull, I call Ken Hitchcock and get him to thoroughly explain to me the value of teamwork, preparation and defensive play.
If I am Brett Hull, I call Lombardi and ask him how to build and guide a scouting staff. After all, if he’s in it for the long haul, he’d better understand how the things you do today (not to mention the money the organization spends) will benefit you tomorrow.
If I am Brett Hull, I do whatever I can to dispel the notion this is an ego trip and that I’d rather be on the golf course.
If I am Brett Hull, I call other recently-retired players who have stepped in to management positions - guys like Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, and Steve Yzerman - and speak with them about where they think the game should go.
A few years ago I drove to Detroit and sat with Hull to write a story he essentially authored: 10 Ways I’d Change The Game. Hull and I talked about doing it a few years earlier, but it fell through the cracks. When we finally got around to doing it, I was pleased at his preparation and the thought he put into the project. His teammates told me he canvassed them for ideas.
When put to the test, Hull came through.
This is a bigger test, though. If Hull is to be taken seriously, he has his work cut out for him.
As someone who values offense in the game I say: Go Brett, Go!
Mike Brophy's Double OT appears regularly on The Hockey News.com.
One of THN’s senior writers, Mike Brophy gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Mike's expertise delivered to you every issue.