Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fiscal Faceoff Blues' Hull Has an Insider's View of the Nhl's Salary Disagreement

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fiscal Faceoff Blues' Hull Has an Insider's View of the Nhl's Salary Disagreement

Article excerpt

Brett Hull has an insider's view of hockey's fiscal faceoff.

The National Hockey League and its players association can't drop the puck on a new collective bargaining agreement. The owners say salaries are wacko. The players disagree.

Where have we heard that before?

To nudge the talks along, the league thoughtfully ordered players to pay their own way through camp. Some believe the owners may soon lock out the players.

In a way, it all goes back to Hull and his Hall of Fame father, Bobby. They've been at the vanguard of two revolutions.

"Salaries in the NHL have gone up a couple different times," Hull said. "The first was when my dad jumped to the WHA (World Hockey Association). The second was when I played out my option and my contract jumped."

After a 41-goal season here in 1988-89, Hull asked the Blues for a raise from about $125,000 to $350,000. "I would have played for $200,000," Hull said, laughing, "but they wouldn't give it to me."

He scored 72 goals, a record for a right winger, then pocketed over $1 million a year to re-sign with the Blues. Only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux then had "big ticket" contracts, as Hull put it.

"I was the first non-superstar to play out his option and get a big contract," Hull said. "I kind of like the honor of having that. I just took the risk. And the game has changed for the good and the bad. There are a lot of guys making a lot of money who don't deserve half of it. On the other hand, there are a lot of guys who signed long-term contracts, and they're worth a lot more than that."

Hull said the union should have fought the NHL pay-to-play orders.

"These things are a complete and utter lack of respect of the players," Hull said. "You want me to pay my own expenses? I can handle that. But kids here who have never had a contract, just out of high school or college, how are they supposed to pay their own way?

"If you don't have money and you signed an NHL contract, you're stupid. But we've got kids at our hockey camp who don't have a contract. They're phoning Chaser (bachelor winger Kelly Chase) to see if they can barbecue hot dogs on his grill, because they have no money. …

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