Hull’s UMD Teammates Speak

     Duluthian Skeeter Moore said he had one job as a Minnesota Duluth hockey left winger during two seasons in the mid-1980s — get the puck to right winger Brett Hull.
     "Brett always had an opposing player hanging on him, but you knew he’d get free and find the open ice. If you got him the puck, he’d put it in the net," Moore, 46, said Tuesday. "We had a connection that worked great. We clicked."
     Hull had that knack from junior hockey in Pentiction, British Columbia, where he scored a 105 goals in one season, all the way to the NHL.
     One of the purest of all goal scorers found his way into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Tuesday, part of a five-person Class of 2009 that will be inducted Nov. 9. He’s the first UMD player accorded the honor.
     Hull, 44, was selected in the first year eligible after recording 741 goals, third-most in league history, and joins his father, Bobby, as the second father-and-son player duo in the Hall of Fame, behind Lester and Lynn Patrick. Bobby Hull, 70, was inducted in 1983.
     "Brett has scoring titles, and a league MVP award, and his name on the Stanley Cup, but this will probably mean more to him than anything he’s achieved," said Jim Toninato, 45, of Duluth, another Hull teammate in 1984-86. "He always had that burning desire and was certainly one of the best players I ever had the chance to play with."
     After his record-setting season in Penticton, Hull came to UMD in 1984 and was named Western Collegiate Hockey Association rookie of the year. He was on the league first team as a sophomore in 1985-86, with a school-record 52 goals, before leaving for the NHL and the Calgary Flames. In 90 college games, he had 84 goals and 60 assissts for 144 points.
     The Bulldogs had a number of stars in the 1980s, including Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners Tom Kurvers and Bill Watson, and Hull shone as bright as any.
     "Brett is certainly the best goal-scorer who has come out of college hockey and he might be the best that’s ever lived," said Watson, 45, a former teammate, and former NHL player, who lives in Duluth.
     Former UMD coach Mike Sertich remembers Hull as a player with an uncanny ability to see the ice and a student who grew up in many ways during his time in town.
     Hull had his Bulldog jersey No. 29 retired at the DECC on Feb. 3, 2006. He retired from the NHL in 2005, works for the Dallas Stars, and maintains a home on Pike Lake.
     "I think Brett found himself while he was here. He was no longer Bobby Hull’s son; he became Brett Hull," said Sertich.
    Moore skated with Hull for two years, while Matt Christensen and Dave Cowan shared the centerman duties. The Bulldogs were 62-22-6 during that time.
     Bobby Hull made at least a couple of visits to the DECC during that time for UMD games. Sports Illustrated came to town to do a feature story on Brett Hull while he was at UMD. He was later named one of the top 50 players in the first 50 years of the WCHA.
     "The minute I saw Duluth I knew it was exactly what I was looking for," Hull told the News Tribune in 2005. "It had the small-town feel and the people were wonderful. It was everything I wanted.
     "UMD and Mike Sertich paved the way for me to make it in the NHL. I often regret that I wasn’t able to spend more time [at UMD], but if I wanted to turn pro, I had to go when I did."
     Hull played for Calgary, St. Louis, Detroit, Dallas and Phoenix.
     "When I heard that Brett was going into the Hall of Fame, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I was that excited for him," said Moore.
     Also in the Hall of Fame class are New Jersey general manager and president Lou Lamoriello, and players Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman.