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Brett Hull’s Hall Of Fame Case

The second of the players among this year’s Hall of Fame inductions that I will make the case for his induction is Brett Hull.  Here is my write-up for Steve Yzerman and here are my basic Hall of Fame standards. 

I think one of the best methods to look at potential Hall of Famers is Bill James 15 questions he asks about potential baseball Hall of Famers.

Here they are:

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball

Hull played at the same time as Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux which made it hard to consider him the best player in the game.  Nevertheless, it happened. In 1991 he won the Hart Trophy and Lester Pearson Award as MVP with his 86 goal season, which I call the best goal scoring season ever.  At that time, some people began to suggest that maybe Hull was the best player in the game, but when he never again matched those numbers the idea was soon forgotten.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

There is little question that Hull was the best player on the St Louis Blues in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  He probably had a seven year run as the Blues best player.  Eventually he was surpassed by Al MacInnis.  He was not the best player on his team during his runs in Dallas or Detroit though both of these teams were very strong teams that won Stanley Cups.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

Hull was the first team all star right wing three years in a row from 1990 through 1992.  He was clearly the best right winger in the league during that time frame.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Yes.  Hull won Stanley Cups in 1999 with Dallas and 2002 with Detroit and was a big part of both teams. He is famous for the Stanley Cup winning “no goal” versus Buffalo in 1999.  His best two offensive seasons in the playoffs come in years where he didn’t win the cup.  He had 24 points in 2000 when Dallas lost in the finals and he had 21 points in only 12 games in 1990 when St Louis bowed out in the second round.

5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

Yes.  He turned 40 during his last full NHL season.  He managed 68 points in that season.  These numbers were good enough to put Hull on the American team in the World Cup that year.  Two years later, after the lockout he attempted to continue his career but only lasted 5 games before retirement.

6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

After the Yzerman induction, he becomes the best player who is eligible for induction but not in the Hall of Fame.

7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Hull is the third highest goal scorer ever.  Obviously players with that many goals make the Hall of Fame easily.  He does not rank as highly in points. He is 21st all time and behind Doug Gilmour, who is Hall eligible and not inducted.

8. Do the player’s numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Yes they do. 

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

There is little evidence to suggest he is better than his numbers.  Hull was never a defensive stalwart.  His value was clearly offensive and he put up his best numbers during a relatively high scoring period in NHL history.  As a result, he might be a bit worse than his numbers suggest, but his numbers are good enough that he is a clear Hall of Famer even if he was adjusted downward somewhat.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?

Yes.  He is clearly the best eligible right wing.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Hull won the 1991 Hart Trophy.  He was a contender in 1990 and 1992.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many go into the Hall of Fame?

Hull appeared in eight All Star Games.  He missed out on one in 1995, when no game was played due to the lockout.  He possibly could have played in one or two more, but missed out since his team had already sent representatives.  Players who appear in this many All Star Games are almost certainly Hall of Famers.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

I believe that a team with Hull in his prime as its best player could win the Stanley Cup.  Those years happened in St Louis and they didn’t win the cup, but I could easily imagine a cup winning team with a 70 or 80 goal Hull as its best player.  In Dallas and Detroit he was one of the best players, when the teams did win the cup, but he was no longer the best player on his team.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

I think Hull’s biggest impact to hockey history is as a goal scorer.  He had the best goal scoring season ever in 1990/91 (relative to scoring rates in the league).  He was probably the best goal scorer in hockey history during his run from 1990 to 1992.  He was a superstar for the US National Teams (he had dual citizenship and was born in Canada).  That helped grow hockey in the US.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Hull was a likeable guy by his teammates who does not do too badly in these areas, but he was also a somewhat lazy and outspoken player at times.  He sometimes had character issues.  I don’t think there is anything serious to make this answer a no, but it isn’t a resounding yes.

Brett Hull has a very strong Hall of Fame case.  It is not quite as stgrong as Yzerman’s, but it is still very good and clearly warrants induction.

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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