Nearly two decades have elapsed since Brett Hull last put on a University of Minnesota Duluth uniform and dazzled college hockey fans with his goal scoring wizardry. On Feb. 3, 2006, his number 29 jersey was officially retired by the UMD Department of Intercollegiate Athletics in a special ceremony at the Bulldogs' Western Collegiate Hockey Association engagement with the U of Wisconsin before a sell-out crowd at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center (DECC).
"Retiring Brett's jersey is a fitting and lasting tribute for the tremendous impact he has made on the UMD hockey program," said UMD Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Bob Nielson. "His accomplishments while with the Bulldogs and in the National Hockey League are remarkable and shows why he is truly one of the game's greatest players."
During his sensational two-year career with the Bulldogs (1984-86), Hull distinguished himself as the most prolific goal producer in UMD history. In 1984-85, he was chosen the WCHA's Freshman of the Year after leading all league newcomers in points while setting a Bulldog single-season mark for goals by a rookie with 32. The following winter, Hull collected an NCAA-best 52 goals -- a figure no Bulldog has come close to equalling since (Derek Plante, with 36 in 1992-93, is his nearest rival) -- en route to landing All WCHA first team honors and becoming a Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist. In addition, he established Bulldog records for hat tricks (7), multiple-goal games (13) and power play scores (20) in one season.
Hull passed up his final two years of collegiate eligibility to join the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames, but not before amassing the best career goals per game average (0.93) ever turned in by a Bulldog. In all, he was credited with 84 goals and 60 assists for 144 points in just 90 lifetime outings with the Bulldogs. Ironically, Hull scored more goals against Wisconsin (13) than any other opponent. Included in that total were three hat tricks, two of which were registered on back-to-back nights in Madison, Wisconsin. while he was freshman.
Hull, a 1997 UMD Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, signed on with Calgary for the 1985 Stanley Cup playoffs and went on to play 20 years in the NHL before retiring five games into the 2005-06 season as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. A nine-time NHL All-Star and the recipient of the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player in 1991-92, he finished his playing career with 741 goals and 650 assists in 1,269 regular season games. Those 741 goals placed him behind only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe on the NHL's all-time list.
Besides winning two Stanley Cups (in 1999 with the Dallas Stars and 2002 with the Detroit Red Wings) Hull skated for the U.S. Team that captured the 1996 World Cup of hockey title, and a silver medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. His international playing resume also includes stints with the U.S at the 1998 Olympics, the 1991 Canada Cup and the 1986 World Ice Hockey Championships.
In 1997, Hull was selected to the 26-member American Hockey Coaches Association All-Time West Team in celebration of the 100th anniversary of college hockey. Four years later, he was included on the WCHA's "Top 50 Players in 50 Years" team as well. Hull becomes just the second UMD male athlete to ever have his jersey retired. He joins fellow hockey forward Keith "Huffer" Christiansen (1963-67) in that elite group.