Pro-file: Brett Hull

He came to Minnesota-Duluth in the fall of 1984, notable mainly for his lineage. The affable forward quickly made a name for himself, however, scoring 32 goals and 60 points as a freshman and helping the Bulldogs to Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season and playoff titles and a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four.

The Bulldogs finished fourth in the WCHA the following season, but the Belleville, Ont., native scored a school-record 52 goals and added 32 assists in just 42 games and earned a spread in Sports Illustrated that season – virtually unheard of for a college hockey player.

I think anytime a coach can have the respect of the players but still be able to have fun with them …I think that helps get the players to play harder for him.
– Brett Hull

He would leave Duluth at the conclusion of the season, joining the Calgary Flames for a pair of playoff games. Now in his 18th NHL season, he earned the Lester B. Pearson and Hart Memorial Trophies in 1991, hoisted the Stanley Cup twice and is now closing in on a milestone 700th-goal.

One of the greatest scorers of all-time, Brett Hull of the Detroit Red Wings sat down with Inside College Hockey’s Mike Eidelbes prior to the team’s intrasquad game in Grand Rapids, Mich., last month to reflect on his dazzling college career.

Inside College Hockey: When you were making the choice between playing college hockey or going the major junior route, was there still a stigma attached to the chances of college players making it in the NHL?

Brett Hull: (The stigma) had been dispelled by me very easily because my two older brothers had gone the junior way and it didn’t work for them. They both ended up playing college hockey in Canada. They were both a big influence on me deciding to go to college and I’m glad I did because it was the best two years of my life.

INCH: A lot of notoriety surrounded the collection of future Hall-of-Famers on last year’s Red Wings roster. Looking back at the Minnesota-Duluth team on which you played as a freshman in 1984-85, there was a similar collection of talent in the sense that there were a number of guys – yourself, Bill Watson Jim Johnson, Norm Maciver, Rick Kosti – who were among the best in the college game at that time. Can you draw a parallel between the two?

BH: It’s kind of hard to compare because everybody in Detroit knows how great the players are. In college, there were a bunch of college kids and you didn’t know how they were going to turn out. But if you look back in hindsight, it’s very similar with a group of enormously talented people.

INCH: How did you end up in Duluth and could you have picked a better place to play college hockey?

BH: It’s one of those things …you play junior and Tier II up in Canada and everywhere is a ways to go to visit schools and you’re going to have to miss games to see schools. I just happened to pick Duluth as one of the five I visited and I fell in love with it right away.

INCH: You’re known as someone with a dry sense of humor, and someone who’s pretty blunt. Your coach at UMD, Mike Sertich (now at Michigan Tech), is kind of in the same mold. Was he a good fit for you in that sense?

BH: He really was. He was a great coach with a great sense of humor and really dealt with the players very well. I think anytime a coach can have the respect of the players but still be able to have fun with them …I think that helps get the players to play harder for him.

INCH: Which Sertich look do you like better – with the hair or without?

BH: You know, I like them both. I’ll always like Mike. He’s been a big influence on my career so far, and I’m just glad he’s still coaching. I saw him last year (at the 2001 Great Lakes Invitational). It was nice to see him. We sat down and talked a little bit and reminisced a little bit.

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