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Evan Grossman | NHL.com Staff Writer
Jan 11, 2007, 9:57 AM EST


Wearing makeup might be a new experience for Brett Hull. But talking about hockey and laying down his anvil-like opinion on matters of the puck, well, he’s been doing that for years. That’s old hat.

Beginning Saturday afternoon, Hull will bring his blistering tongue to the new season of the NHL on NBC as he embarks on his first major hockey endeavor since he hung up the skates last season. Many are comparing Hull’s inclusion on the national telecasts each week with the opinionated Charles Barkley being on NBA broadcasts and Don Cherry’s standing as the biggest mouth on the hockey landscape on the wildly popular Hockey Night in Canada. While Hull considers both men friends and people he admires, he says he’s not going to be the next Barkley.

Instead, Hull says he’ll just try to be the first Brett Hull.

“I am Brett hull and I started to hear rumblings about that when I signed on,” he said. “I just thought back to when I was a young kid, before I had a chance to make it to the NHL and it was always, ‘Bobby Hull’s son, Bobby Hull’s son,’ and I looked at myself one day and said, ‘You’re never going to be Bobby Hull. No one’s ever going to be Bobby Hull, and if you don’t figure out who Brett Hull is and develop your own game, your own style and own personality, you’re not going to make it anywhere.’

“So that’s the way I decided to look at this,” Hull said. “As much as I like Charles, and I’ve known him a long time, I don’t know if we’re the exact same personality, although we both run in the same vein in saying how we feel. I’m going to be me, and when something needs to be said, it’s going to be said, whether someone’s going to be upset about it or feel real good about it.”

In that sense, Hull seems like he’ll be a lot more like the fiery, what-will-he-say-next Cherry, who has developed legions of fans around the hockey world for his blunt personality and a wardrobe as loud as his mouth.

“I’m going to be way better dressed, I can tell you that,” Hull said. “I can promise you that. I think Don Cherry is wonderful for our game. Unfortunately, for the game, he hasn’t been able to be seen down here in the States. That’s one thing I really do believe the people down here miss because he’s got passion, he’s got opinion ... he’s a great man and I think he’s been great for the game.”

That talent for talking is what landed Hull the job with NBC in the first place.

“For every one of his NHL seasons, he was the most quotable guy for every team he played for and arguably the most quotable guy in the entire league during that stretch,” NBC producer Sam Flood said. “That side of him made you want to get involved. Everyone said that’s the guy we want to have, go get him.”

Three games will be televised to different areas of the country each week, and this season, for the first time, two of those three will be broadcast in high definition. Other features for the second season of the NHL on NBC include pre-game reports from the warm-ups of the three televised games, expanding the schedule from six weeks to nine, and moving games from Saturday to Sunday. In addition, the studio telecast will also come live from the Rink at 30 Rock, which is the skating rink under the famous Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center.

“The whole concept is extending the opportunity for passionate hockey fans to get engaged in the game,” Flood, an admitted puckhead, said.

While there are plenty of bells and whistles on the broadcast again this season, Hull figures to be the biggest – and most vocal.

“We’re going to give Hullie a platform,” Flood said.

On a conference call Wednesday with the rest of the fun-bunch NBC team (Pierre McGuire, Eddie Olczyk and Bill Clement), Hull was his usual, unplugged self as he answered every question tossed his way with the same passion and flare that saw him score 741 goals in his legendary 19-year NHL career. Unloading on subjects the way he used to unload his heavy one-timer, Hull gave a sampling of what viewers can expect this weekend.

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