With another run for the Stanley Cup set to begin, there are few teams more prepared for a long playoff run than the Dallas Stars. And much of that can be credited to the front office duo of Brett Hull and Les Jackson.
By most accounts, it was high-risk move. While Jackson had seven years of experience as the team's assistant GM, Hull - known more for speaking his mind than evaluating rosters and managing a salary cap - was just a few months removed from the broadcast booth and three years removed from his career as a player.
"(It was) nothing that I'd ever dreamed of," Hull told TSN's Off the Record on Wednesday. "I was kind of anti-establishment and I thought my reputation was the last thing I thought someone would want in a front office. Somewhere along the line, I must have impressed someone."
And it didn't take Hull long to make his mark, as he and Jackson quickly stabilized the club and had them moving the right direction in the standings. With championship aspirations, they duo also improved their roster by adding Brad Richards last March and Hull's former Red Wings teammate Sean Avery in July.
While Avery - the league's biggest agitator - has no reservations when it comes to getting under an opponent's skin, his former roommate-turned boss has established a limit.
"Just one," Hull explained to TSN. "(I said) as long as you don't embarrass the organization, you can do, say or act any way you want."
And does that include line-crossing trash talk?
"That's just part of gamesmanship and his personality," Hull explained. "You'd be surprised how many guys do things like that out there. Someone's got to be the best and someone's got to be the worst at everything."
And what about getting a stick up in a goaltender's face like he did last spring against Martin Brodeur? "(That's not acceptable) to me because that's not the way you play hockey," Hull told Off the Record. "Why would you want to do that? Why don't you want to get open and get a shot away? But that was before he was with me."
The future Hall of Famer - who never pulled punches about the state of the NHL - also chimed in on how he would improve the game. "There's a few things I would do to make it better," Hull told TSN. First of all, I'd put the red line back in. I'm get so sick of tired of seeing D-to-D, bank passes, and tip it in and chase it (hockey). It happens way too often. You look at teams like Detroit that manhandles (other) teams and they don't do that. They keep the puck and pass to each other."
The Golden Brett would also like to see a throwback to old-style arenas and playing surfaces. "I'd also like to see the rinks get smaller," he explained "Like the old Chicago Stadium, the Aud (in Buffalo) and Boston Garden. It would bring more energy and get rid of the static play."
Hull, who played his career in hockey hotbeds like St. Louis and Detroit and newer markets like Dallas and Phoenix, added that more Canadian markets would be welcome in the NHL, but the possibility of U.S. expansion can't be discounted either.
"Why can't we do it all?" he said. "I'd like to see more franchises in Canada. To me, it's the home of hockey. I'd like to see us get to places like (Las) Vegas, but I'd also like to make sure that when we do give franchises, we just don't do it because they have a lump of money and that we make sure the game is going to go and be successful there."