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October 22, 2002

Outtakes with Brett Hull

Dan Patrick protects his teeth with Brett Hull

UNCUT OUTTAKES: A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Detroit Red Wings right wing Brett Hull appears in the Oct. 14 edition of ESPN The Magazine

Brett Hull
A prolific goal scorer, Brett Hull says he once wanted to be a goalie.
DP: Do you remember your first hockey pain?
BH: When my dad was playing in Winnipeg in '72 -- I was about 8 years old -- he took me to my first outdoor rink in the winter. My feet were so cold, and then it gets even more excruciating once they start to thaw. It was the most excruciating pain I've ever had.
DP: It's got to be tough to cry if your dad is Bobby Hull.
BH: No, not when you're 8. DP: But when you're 18...
BH: You know what? I don't care. I'm my own guy. I'm very secure with my sexuality. I can cry anytime I want.

DP: Who's the best athlete in the NHL?
BH: Mike Modano.
DP: Really!
BH: Oh, without a doubt.
DP: Why?
BH: He just is. He's gifted at a lot of things like tennis and golf, although Sergei Fedorov is probably right there, so I don't know. Let's call it a tie.
DP: So if we had a superstar's competition, your money would be on Modano or Fedorov.
BH: Without a doubt. If I wasn't so slow, it would be me, because I'm good at everything.
DP: You're a plodder.
BH: [laughs] I know.

DP: Are we past the joking about Anna Kournikova with Fedorov?
BH: Never have.
DP: Never even approach that?
BH: No.
DP: No one does?
BH: No.
DP: As tough as you guys are on people, you didn't even joke about that?
BH: Not ever.
DP: Wow! Do opponents do that to him?
BH: You know what? I don't really listen. I'm sure some guys do.
DP: I would think you might be able to get under his skin a little bit.
BH: I think they're probably more applauding him than making fun of him. I bet you there's a lot of guys who dream of having a girl that fine.

DP: Tell me one thing that's true about all goalies.
BH: They're all overrated [laughs].
DP: Patrick Roy is overrated?
BH: They're all overrated. Don't get me singling people out here.
DP: Wait a minute -- if they're all overrated, therefore Patrick Roy is overrated.
BH: Well, yeah.
DP: OK. Is Dominik Hasek done?
BH: Yes.
DP: You don't think he'll come back?
BH: Nope.
DP: Because if he was a boxer, he would be back.
BH: That's right.
DP: But you think he's done.
BH: He's a box of rocks ... I think he's done. Anyone who would walk away from this team is obviously done.
DP: And dumb.
BH: Yeah, D-U-M-B, dumb.
DP: I didn't understand that -- but then, do you ever understand goalies? I mean, is he the prime example of a goalie that you can't figure out?
BH: To begin with, you can't even understand what he's saying, so how are you going to ever figure him out, if you thought you could figure him out?
DP: Isn't it weird, though, that he was your teammate, but goalies are just there in their own little island, and some are great as teammates. But others, they live in their own little world.
BH: They're such a integral part of whatever happens. If the forwards have a lousy night, he's always there. And if everyone has a good night, he's still always there.

DP: You have dual citizenship, don't you?
BH: Yes.
DP: Name an American who makes you glad you're Canadian.
BH: Oh, boy. Do I have to name one?
DP: You can name a couple, but I love this question, so don't let me down.
BH: Of course, my mind always works into the sports world -- so Mike Tyson.
DP: There have got to be other guys you don't like ... actors or musicians, they don't have to be athletes.
BH: OK, any rapper.
DP: Yeah?
BH: But that's not true, because I like Kid Rock a lot, so not any rapper
... oh, and those idiots from Enron.
DP: Let me turn it around. What about the Canadians who make you glad you're an American?
BH: [laughs] Any Canadian hockey fan. Won't that hurt?
DP: Why are you down on Canadian hockey fans?
BH: Because they've been all over me. They boo me every time I go anywhere.
DP: Why?
BH: Because I play for Team USA.
DP: So you're a traitor.
BH: Basically -- that's what they say.
DP: Does it bother you?
BH: No. Not in the least.
DP: When they boo, do you even hear them?
BH: Oh, I hear them.
DP: Give me somebody else from Canada who makes you glad you're an American.
BH: I spend so little time up there and don't pay attention.
DP: See, there are lots of annoying Americans, that's the problem.
BH: Of course, because there are more Americans in the spotlight. I think the media of America goes all over the world, whereas the media of Canada doesn't go anywhere, you know?

DP: Did you watch "American Idol"?
BH: No, I've never watched it.
DP: "Survivor"?
BH: No. I just know what they're about, and they're stupid, and I don't watch them.

DP: Your second-best sport.
BH: Golf.
DP: Who would you be in golf? If we took the NHL players and everybody was playing golf, would you be David Duval? Is Mario Lemieux going to be Tiger, as far as talent goes?
BH: Oh, I see what you're saying.
DP: Tell me who you are on tour based on your talents in golf. Are you middle of the pack? Are you a star? Are you a guy who can do it occasionally, like Davis Love?
BH: I'm one of the guys who's about to go to the Senior Tour.
DP: So are you a Nick Price or a Nick Faldo type?
BH: My personality is Nick Price, but my game is not Nick Price. I hit it long, and I hit good irons, but my short game is putrid. It's putrid. But it's getting better.

DP: Are the days of 50 goals in 50 games gone?
BH: Yes. Long gone, possibly forever.
DP: You did it twice ... are you worried that other sports have increased scoring, but in hockey scoring has decreased?
BH: No, because hockey is its own game. It's completely different than all the other games, although it's getting way too close to soccer.
DP: Meaning the scores?
BH: Meaning the style. You know, keep it out of the middle of the field, take it up the sidelines as far as you can and then shoot it at the net and hope it goes in off someone.

DP: Favorite hockey term.
BH: "Score!"
DP: What's a bad hockey term?
BH: "Dump it in."
DP: Is there a hockey term that's out of style right now? My favorite is top shelf.
BH: Yeah.
DP: Is there a hockey term that's out of style, that you can't use that maybe 10 years ago you could use?
BH: Maybe a little more than 10 years ago, but ... "the benches have cleared" [laughs].

Brett Hull
Brett Hull says his favorite song of all time is ... Barry Manilow's "Mandy"?
DP: Why is there such a gap between what Marshall Faulk or Jarome Iginla makes and what Alex Rodriguez makes?
BH: Because baseball has all the money.
DP: Just some local revenue.
BH: Local revenue, national revenue, baseball cards, everything else they make money on.
DP: Have you had a bad trading card?
BH: Yes.
DP: Which year?
BH: Every year [laughs]. Every one they take of me in warm-ups is a bad one.
DP: Why don't you submit one or pose for one?
BH: They should not be allowed to put your picture on a hockey card without your approval of the picture.
DP: Is there one that you just say, "That one -- that's bad."
BH: Yes, but I don't know what year it is. I was in St. Louis, and I had my mouth wide open and my hair is, like, a foot high without my helmet on.

DP: What emerging current minor sport would you like to see make it? WNBA, Major League Soccer, X Games, LPGA, Senior PGA, Arena Football, etc.?
BH: I don't know much about any of them.
DP: But your kids, aren't they into the X Games?
BH: My son's 8, so I'd say he is, yeah, because he loves his skateboarding and his bike and his snowboard.
DP: Does he have to play hockey because of his dad or do you like the fact that he's into something else?
BH: No, I like that he's into other things. It's like guys sit there and say they don't want their son to be a goalie. He's 8 years old right now, and he likes to play goalie. Go ahead, play goalie -- but I want you to also play forward and learn how to play the game ... you know, figure out what you want to focus on when you're 12 and 13, and then start to learn the real fundamentals. Right now, just go out and have fun and learn how to skate and learn how to make friends and stuff.
DP: Gretzky once said, "I didn't want my kids to play goalie, but they loved to play goalie. They loved to wear the pads."
BH: Of course, but that's just a phase every kid goes through.

DP: Did you go through a phase where you wanted to be a goalie?
BH: Oh, yeah. I loved Tony Esposito.
DP: Do you have the mentality to play goalie?
BH: I would have the best glove in the history of the game. I could play without a blocker.
DP: Are we going to get to the point where we get, like, a 6-8, 350-pound sumo wrestler between the pipes?
BH: I don't think you'd want him 6-8. I think you'd want him 5-11 and 350 pounds. ... Fat Bastard would be an awesome goalie.

DP: You're a classic rock guy. You must love being in Detroit with Kid Rock.
BH: Well, I have to take the Fifth, because the team has become good friends with Kid Rock. If I had my choice, we'd be listening to Neil Young or Bob Dylan.
DP: These young guys must look at you like...
BH: Like I'm a freak. When I was in the record store with Sean Avery helping him look for CDs, I pulled out Tapestry. He was like, "Who is Carole King?" Can you imagine?

DP: An E-Bay search of Brett Hull turned up 353 items, from cards to bobbleheads to pictures. You care to comment on that?
BH: Yeah -- anything that's signed by me on E-Bay is a forgery and not authentic.

DP: Have you seen that Dr. Phil guy?
BH: Yeah.
DP: What kind of hockey coach do you think he'd make?
BH: I think he would be a good hockey coach.
DP: Because?
BH: Because he would understand everyone's personalities and what makes them tick, and what it would take to get them to play their best.
DP: But wouldn't he make guys cry?
BH: Sometimes guys need to cry. Some hockey players think they're too tough to cry.
DP: I just can't see some of these guys crying, but if Dr. Phil was in there, he makes everybody cry.
BH: That's right -- and we could be a closer group for it.
DP: Is this a misconception, that everybody is tough in hockey?
BH: Well, no, because there's huge degrees of toughness.
DP: OK, but tell me the degrees.
BH: Well, there's the toughness of guys who will go out and punch a guy in the face, and also receive punches in the face. There's other guys who will go into the corner and get killed by a defenseman. There's guys who will stand in front of the net and get cross-checked, and there's guys who will try to block shots. There's guys who are tough in the aspect that they never let bad things get to them, you know. They're mentally tough. There are so many ... there's guys who get hit in the face and skate off the ice, and then there's the guys who get hit into the boards and lie there for a half-hour.

DP: What do you think of when you're waiting for the puck for a one-timer? Is it reactionary, or is there actual thought that goes into it?
BH: Not much. I'm like, "How long is it going to take this guy to get it to me?"
DP: Do you know where you're shooting it?
BH: I have an idea, an area where I think I want it to go. It's too hard to get too specific, so I know it's going high and left, or sometimes you just have to shoot it so quick, you're just hitting the net. But if I have time, I know ... just not such a specific way. I know it's going high or low. I can't say I'm going to put it through his armhole.

DP:Who haven't you played with in your career that you wish you could have?
BH: My dad.
DP: How do you think you would have gotten along with your dad on the ice?
BH: I don't think that would have been a problem. I would have wondered how everyone else would have gotten along with us if we were on the same team [laughs].
DP: There'd have been a lot of people with assists, but not too many shots, I would imagine.
BH: There'd have been a lot of people changing their games.

DP: Do you have to be greedy and selfish to be a great scorer?
BH: No. I have a theory on that. If I'm on a two-on-one, I'm going to pass ... if there's an opportunity for me to give another guy a good scoring chance, I will pass it all the time -- because I think when you're unselfish like that it comes back to you fivefold. And I think the exact opposite is true too. If you're selfish and don't, it comes back to you in a negative way.
DP: Can you ever get tired of scoring?
BH: Never. That's the only fun part of the game.
DP: Can you describe the feeling of scoring? And is it different with each goal?
BH: If you get the seventh goal in a 7-0 game, big deal. But any goal has meaning, you know, even if it's the third goal and it's 3-0. I mean, they can still come back and get three goals. Scoring a goal is a euphoric feeling -- and it's not so much the puck going in. It's the reaction from your teammates, the opponents and the fans -- like, to shut up a crowd or to have your fans go berserk is the greatest feeling. It makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

DP: What did you do differently with the Stanley Cup this time that you didn't do the last time?
BH: I enjoyed it. I genuinely was aware of what was happening and enjoyed looking at the people I won it with and how they enjoyed it. Before, I was just so excited that I won it that I didn't get to really enjoy the experience.

DP: Do you catch flak because you list crossword puzzles as a hobby?
BH: I don't know. Do I catch flak because I'm so much smarter than everyone else? I don't know [laughs].
DP: But hockey isn't a sport where you can usually use an increased vocabulary, can you?
BH: Not necessarily, but it can be a very dangerous thing.
DP: In hockey?
BH: Anywhere, especially in a hockey dressing room.
DP: Oh, in a dressing room. But I'm talking about on the ice. You don't always have to be smart to be great, do you?
BH: No, but if you have an active mind it always helps. You know, people who don't do crosswords, their minds fall asleep. That's why I do them -- my mind is always working. One day my brain is going to explode through the top of my head [laughs].
DP: Give me your favorite word from doing crosswords.
BH: Wow!
DP: You must have come across a word and said, "Man, that's a good one." You want to go out and use it in a sentence.
BH: I don't know. There are so many unbelievable words ... I can't -- that's impossible to answer.
DP: Impossible? You just prided yourself on how smart you were and your knowledge!
BH: But that doesn't mean I have a favorite word.
DP: I figured you would just spout one out right away because you found out what it was and thought, "That's such a great word, and I didn't know that." You know, like onomatopoeia.
BH: Yeah, but that's not ever in a crossword.
DP: Why not? I don't have enough patience to do them, though. That's my problem ... you know, my mind is falling asleep.
BH: You know what, I'm patient with crossword puzzles and the most impatient golfer.

Brett Hull
Brett Hull, center, says that crossword puzzles help keep his mind sharp.
DP: I was going to say, are you patient as a golfer?
BH: No. I'm very impatient. I am. That's the bane of my game. I don't think about what I'm going to do -- I just go hit it, I don't stop to wait and think. Costs me two shots a round. "Oh, oh -- we were downwind. I don't wait to figure out which way the wind is."
DP: That's my favorite. I'll say, "Yeah, the wind was blowing right to left," and a guy will say, "No, it's left to right."
BH: I'm dyslexic when it comes to reading putts, too. I hit more putts that I think are going right and they go left -- it's unbelievable.

DP: The longer you play, the more numbers you put up. Does that make you even more amazed at what Gretzky was able to accomplish?
BH: Yeah. DP: Unbelievable that somebody like that, built like that, could rule the sport.
BH: Scary, isn't it?
DP: I know.
BH: That's why people like him are special.
DP: You look at what he was able to accomplish, and he said he wouldn't be able to do anywhere near that now because of the way the game is played.
BH: Exactly.
DP: That's sad, though, because you wonder about some of the great players now we don't know about because of the way the game is played.
BH: Well, look at Jarome. Getting 50 goals is awesome. You get 50 or 40 goals now, you've had a wonderful season, I think.
DP: I know, it's changed, whereas with baseball, it used to be you hit 35 homers, you had a great year.
BH: Yeah.
DP: And now you have to hit 50 or 60.
BH: And why is that?
DP: Because they're all juiced up.
BH: The players?
DP: Yeah.
BH: Not for long.

DP: How prevalent do you think steroids are in hockey?
BH: Zero.
DP: Really!
BH: Yes.
DP: Why?
BH: Because you can't get big in hockey. You need to be pliable ... they've even taken fighting out of the game, so there's no more of those big huge guys who just fight. So if you're going to play hockey now, you have to be able to play. If you have the ability to fight and play, you're an unbelievable commodity. But if you can only fight, there might be six of those guys left in the league, and I can guarantee they're going fast.

DP: If ESPN boxing analyst Al Bernstein analyzed your fighting skills, how would he rate you? What weight class are you in? Would you be a contender?
BH: I would be a super flyweight or super bantamweight. What's the smallest? I'd be, like, midgetweight[laughs].
DP: How would you rate your skills? Do I have to worry about the left or the uppercut?
BH: Yeah, the left would come. Whether it would phase you at all, I don't know. It would be like getting hit with a bag of feathers.
DP: Well, if you were a fighter, would you describe yourself as just a journeyman, then?
BH: Oh, no. I would never have made it anywhere.
DP: Oh, they wouldn't even let you in the ring?
BH: No, no.
DP: Have you ever hurt anybody?
BH: Not unless it was verbally. And I've KO'd a lot of guys verbally. I've got one of the most vicious knockout punches with the tongue of anyone on earth.

DP: What part of your body hasn't been injured?
BH: My teeth have never been touched. Why did I tell you that? Knock on wood. I've got a few scars over the eyes, a couple on the chin, a few on the beak and one across the cheek. But my luck is running out.
DP: So you're getting vain.
BH: Hey, I just don't want to go to the dentist. And come on, everyone is vain.

DP: Is it easier to repeat sometimes because you know what you guys can do or have to do?
BH: I don't know, because I've never repeated, you know? We went to the finals back-to-back in Dallas, but we didn't win the second time. We lost in the final to Jersey. But if you have the same group, because of the knowledge you have, yeah, I think the journey is easier.
DP: People always said it's harder to repeat, but I figured that if you know what the journey is, then in some ways it's easier.
BH: Yeah. To get to the final -- the journey to the rainbow is easier. To grab that pot of gold is still just as difficult.

DP: Do you have a vanity license plate?
BH: No.
DP: Thank God ... all right, I've done enough damage here.
BH: You've got to have more questions than that.
DP: Well, see, I love the whole thing about Dylan and Neil Young and people like that ... when musicians actually say something that's provocative.
BH: Right.
DP: It has to make you cringe when you talk music with younger guys and what they listen to.
BH: Yeah, I don't get it ... I don't get them any more than they get me.
DP: And you're not willing to change.
BH: No, of course not.

DP: Did 9/11 change you at all?
BH: Yeah! I'm scared to death to fly commercial.
DP: Have you flown commercial since 9/11?
BH: I have not flown commercial since 9/11.
DP: Refuse to.
BH: Yes. That's why I've got to play a couple more years.

DP: When you get to a certain age, you know that the how-long-are-you-going-to-play question comes up. How many times has it come up so far?
BH: Oh, all the time. A guy I played golf with today. "How many years you got left?"
DP: Do you even know?
BH: No, because, like I said, I can play many more years. But do I want to? I want to live my life. I want to ... use the money I've made to go and do the things that a lot of people don't get a chance to do, you know? And that's the privilege of doing what we do. So I might want to spend more time with the kids and lots of things, you know -- and I don't want to do them when I'm 60.

DP: Give me your favorite line from a song.
BH: "I'm not a prophet or a stone age man, just a mortal with potential of a superman." David Bowie, the Hunky Dory album. I can't remember which song.
DP: It sounds like something Dylan would say.
BH: Yeah. And the other one is: "Old man, take a look at my life. I'm a lot like you were."
DP: You seem to identify with Neil.
BH: Uh-huh.
DP: Because he's Canadian?
BH: No, because he's his own guy, and I like to think that I'm my own guy. He's never sold out, you know? He's always done his own thing. If he wanted to do a blues album, he did a blues album. Whether I liked it or not, he did that electronic album. He's his own guy, and he sings from the heart.
DP: Have you seen him in concert?
BH: Oh, too many times.
DP: I saw him during the Rust album.
BH: See, there's our age difference right there.
DP: Well, I'm only eight years older than you ... I saw Zeppelin, the Who and the Stones in a span of 18 months back in 1977.
BH: If there's one thing that I wish I could do that I was unable to do, it's this: go to Woodstock. I wish I would have been at Woodstock.
DP: Because?
BH: Because that's when I should have been born. I should have been a child of the '60s [laughs].
DP: Why the '60s? What is it, just the music?
BH: I didn't like the '50s, you know. I appreciate Elvis, but I'm not a big fan. I'm not a rockabilly fan. And the '60s and early '70s were, to me, the greatest times to live.
DP: Well, it's definitely the music ... I don't know if you've seen the Who before.
BH: Oh, yeah.
DP: Pete Townsend to me is -- there's just no better musician. I mean, he does it all. He writes, he sings, he plays guitar. I saw him -- he had a broken hand, and he was still playing guitar and just cranking it ... I saw him backstage, and the cast was just in tatters, just barely on there. And somebody said, "Well, why don't you just take it off?" And he said, "The doctor said keep it on." It was on by just a couple of threads, and his fingers were just bloody ... hey, I actually went to a Britney Spears concert.
BH: Well, you have to do that with a kid.
DP: No, I went by myself.
BH: Oh, really!
DP: During the NBA Finals. I was in L.A. ... I saw Barry Manilow too.
BH: I love Barry Manilow ... "Mandy," that's my favorite song of all time.
DP: "Mandy"?
BH: Oh, yeah.
DP: Man, oh, man. I don't know if I'd admit it. I mean, I could admit it to you ... but you're going to be a target. They're going to go after your teeth, and they're going to say, "Hey, Mandy."

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