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EXCERPT | March 18, 1991
Brett Hull scored at a rate that was almost Gretzkian
With the NHL's two biggest stars aging (Wayne Gretzky) and ailing (Mario Lemieux), the league's spotlight fell on fourth-year pro—and brand-new scoring sensation—Brett Hull. Austin Murphy reported for SI.
Our cocktail waitress this afternoon is chewing gum and straining to their outermost limits the seams of her black microminiskirt. For the last 15 minutes here at Quincy's Pub in downtown Philadelphia, she has been sneaking glances at a rugged-looking blond with cobalt-blue eyes and terrific dimples. When the object of her interest gets up to feed the jukebox, she inquires of his drinking partner, "Who is he? Where have I seen him?"
Informed that she has been side-eyeing Brett Hull, the NHL's leading goal scorer and the most valuable player on the St. Louis Blues, she seems vaguely disappointed. "I thought maybe he was an actor," she says.
Perfectly understandable. As recently as three years ago hockey experts were also disappointed with Hull, then a spare part with the Calgary Flames, saying he was an NHL pretender, a plodding, one-way player whose naps in the defensive zone offset his knack for humiliating goaltenders. Three seasons and 194 goals later, Hull has joined Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux in the rarefied aerie of NHL stars who transcend hockey.
An American playing in an American city, he has helped sell the game in the States. He is a pure goal scorer, a home run hitter in a league starved for such glamour boys.
Hull, the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, played 13 more seasons and retired in 2006 with 741 career goals, third most in NHL history.
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Sweet 16 Party
SI.com's Andy Glockner eyes the road ahead for the teams left in the Big Dance
Kentucky tore through the opening weekend like a national title contender should, pounding a 16 seed and a slumping 9. Now the competition gets steeper for John Wall and the Wildcats, who will potentially face two very dangerous offensive teams in Cornell and Washington or have to overcome West Virginia's extremely physical style. Kentucky has the best raw talent of any club left. This regional won't be a walkover, but the Cats are definitely the most talented team in it.
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Carmelo Anthony wants to be known for more than just his scoring ability
Online Cover Gallery
Maurice Richard, a.k.a. "the Rocket," was the NHL's alltime leading scorer (544 goals) when he landed on SI's cover near the end of his 18th, and final, season in Montreal.
Phil Esposito, who had spurred the Bruins to Stanley Cup titles in two of the previous four seasons, led the NHL in goals for the fifth straight year with 68 in 1973--74.
Wayne Gretzky, at the tender age of 20 and already the NHL's best player, scored a league-high 92 goals for the Oilers in 1981--82, setting a single-season record that still stands.
Steve Nash First-Round Upsets
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Rare Photos
Mario Lemieux Notable Comebacks
Photograph by DAVID E. KLUTHO
INCREDIBLE HULL Hull scored an NHL-best 86 goals in 1990--91, the second of three straight seasons in which he led the league with at least 70 goals.
PAINTING BY RUSSELL HOBAN
BOB ROSATO (WALL)
DAVID E. KLUTHO (LEMIEUX)
DOZIER MOBLEY/GETTY IMAGES (EARNHARDT)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (NASH, ANTHONY)
CLIFF WELCH/ICON SMI (TEBOW)
GREG NELSON (WASHINGTON)