Brett Hull rejoins Blues as executive VP: 'I never wanted to leave'

News-DemocratSeptember 9, 2013 

With fans cheering in the background during his press conference Monday, St. Louis Blues legend Brett Hull rejoined the franchise as the team's new Executive Vice President.

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— With fans cheering in the background during his press conference Monday, St. Louis Blues legend Brett Hull rejoined the franchise as the team's new Executive Vice President.

"It's been 15 years and a lot of the relationships I had have never really left," said Hull, whose job will be on the business side of the front office selling luxury suites, season tickets and sponsorships.

In short, being Brett Hull.

"I think a lot of it is, and I think that's where the fit is. I think I have the personality that can really help the front office and the sales staff, sponsors, (sell) tickets, suites... I can help them in a myriad of ways," said Hull, whose 741 career goals ranks third all-time in the NHL.

Hull scored 527 of those while playing for the Blues from 1987 to 1998. He won Stanley Cups with Dallas and Detroit after leaving St. Louis, but said a piece of his heart always remained here.

"I never wanted to leave -- and I'm glad I'm back, I can tell you that," Hull said. "With Doug Armstrong and Ken Hitchcock as the cornerstones and this stable of young stud players that I've come to really admire and enjoy watching, the future is bright and the Stanley Cup is well within grasp."

Hull was joined at Scottrade Center by wife Darcy and two of his three children, Jude and Crosby. Most of the current Blues players were there as well.

Blues owner Tom Stillman has been talking to Hull ever since he bought the franchise in May, 2012, trying to find the right fit for the most popular player in franchise history.

Hull's role will be crucial to a franchise with limited financial resources in one of the league's mid-level markets.

"Brett Hull belongs with the Blues, it makes all the sense in he world for him to be there," Stillman said. "We've thought that from day one, but we wanted it to work in the right way where it's good for Brett and good for the organization. We think it's a great thing for all concerned."

It was clear that energy level in the press conference raised considerably once Hull walked onto the podium and tugged on a familiar No. 16 Blues sweater.

"When Brett Hull is in town, there is a buzz," Stillman said. "People are excited. There is something special about his effect on St. Louis."

While Hull is on the business side, he said Monday he'd be happy to provide opinions if asked by Armstrong or Hitchcock.

Hull also understands how the business side and hockey side of the franchise are intertwined.

"It's a circle of life basically," Hull said. "The better the hockey team does, the easier it is for us to create revenue. The more revenue we create, it makes it easier for Doug to get free agents and sign players.

"We just keep feeding each other. You have to work together and I know Tom has a great handle on that."

Stillman said Hull will be doing much more than just signing autographs and smiling for photos.

"I don't think it's just a matter of shaking hands," Stillman said. "He'll be involved in the substance of selling and showing people and companies in the market that this is an organization that you want to be associated with.

"We've got to build a revenue base. We've got a hockey organization firmly in place and he's going to be pitching in on the business side."

How will the Blues measure Hull's contributions?

"I think it will be in very concrete fashion," Stillman said. "It will be in suites sold, it will be additional sponsors, additional season tickets .... we have some other things like clubs that we're building. We've built one, we may build another one."

Hull won two Stanley Cups after leaving St. Louis, with Dallas in 1999 and Detroit in 2002. He believes the Blues aren't far away from their first in franchise history.

"It's obviously very close," Hull said. "There's a ton of talent. They have experience, they have youth, they have speed, they've got size. It's a learning curve. When I went to Dallas in (1999), they were on the cusp of winning for three or four years, and they couldn't get over the hump of beating Colorado and Detroit.

"It just took them that bit of time, and (former Stars GM) Bob Gainey putting a little extra pieces of the puzzle together until they figured out how to do it. When they did, they never looked back."

The 49-year-old Hull came to the Blues for the first time on March 7, 1988 as part of a trade with the Calgary Flames. Known better then as the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, the younger Hull quickly made his own mark on the Blues and became the best player in franchise history.

He finished his career with 741 goals and 1,391 points in 1,269 games, leaving Hull ranked 22nd in points in NHL history.

Along with scoring 50 or more goals five times, Hull pushed scoring to new heights with 70 or more goals in three straight seasons from 1989 to 1992.

During his Hart Trophy season of 1990-91 as the NHL's Most Valuable Player, Hull erased the all-time record for goals by a right winger with 86.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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