Hull's speed, accuracy unbeatable


You can teach a guy how to check, but can you teach him how to score?


You can teach a guy how to check, but can you teach him how to score?

Nobody ever turned former NHLer Clarke Wilm into former Edmonton Oilers great Jari Kurri.

"Since I retired, I've been working with(captain) Brenden Morrow in Dallas," said Brett Hull, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night with 741 goals (third-most all-time in the NHL).

"And you can explain where to go, I mean, he goes to the areas more now, but unless you have that goal-scorer's mentality ... "

That is something that Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin possesses.

"I watch him and I won't say he reminds me of me, but I will say he goes to all the places I used to go to score. It's so much fun to watch him," Hull said of Ovechkin.

Hull had 228 goals during a three-year run in St. Louis in the early 1990s, with Adam Oates setting him up game after game.

Wayne Gretzky, in his heyday, had 250 goals in three seasons in the early 1980s. But he's the only one who was ever more destructive than The Golden Brett.

"His speed and accuracy was ridiculous, and he'd have no room, and the puck would still be in the net," said Brian Leetch, who's also heading into the Hall of Fame. "We would be sitting in the locker-room watching highlights from his game somewhere else and, all of a sudden, he'd be down on one knee, and shoot it top corner.

"He would have that grin on his face and we'd look at each other and shake our heads. Like, how could you stop that?" said Leetch.

Hull had the best wrist shot ever, snapping his shaft, ho-humming pucks past helpless goalies, almost, as Leetch said, with his shins rubbing the ice.

He spent hours in his early days with the Blues going down the wing and sending thousands of wrist shots at the net. It was done under orders from then assistant Bob Berry, who would throw pucks at Hull's feet.

In the slot, Hull never once looked at the goalie. He just knew where the goalie wasn't.

"I always felt if you shot and it went through the goalie's legs, it was lucky shot," said Hull.

"I couldn't get it through my mind to shoot right at the guy, except maybe on a breakaway. In the slot, I knew where the net was, and a couple of areas where the puck could go in," said Hull, who loved scoring, except on the night he surpassed his dad, Bobby, with 608 career goals.

"A great feeling, but a bittersweet feeling," said Hull. "I have so much respect for what my dad meant for the game and how he played it. It would have been great to end up with the exact same amount."

In Hull's eyes, only Ovechkin, in today's NHL, could score 70 goals season after season. "He's bigger, faster, stronger and shoots harder than I ever dreamed of," he said.

But 50 in 50, as Hull did twice? "It wasn't that tough, playing

with Adam. He made it easy. But there were more goals being scored everywhere back then. Today, it would almost be impossible," he said.

Hull had another 103 goals in the playoffs, fourth most in the NHL. None more infamous than when he slid the puck past Buffalo Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek while standing in the crease to give the Dallas Stars the Stanley Cup in 1999--this after a season-long harangue about disallowing goals with toes in the blue paint.

"The players all knew they had changed the rule, so that as long as you had control of the puck in the crease, the goal would be OK.

"But the NHL hadn't told the fans," said Hull. "You can tell people that a million times and they will not listen."

Maybe the Sabres didn't get the NHL memo, because they were ready to string somebody up after the goal went in, deep in overtime.

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