The eccentric Avery, who once spent an off-season as an intern at Vogue, began that 2008-2009 season distracted by a movie he was producing about his life. Stories leaked out in the media that his Dallas teammates despised him. Then, prior to a game in Calgary, Avery asked the reporters in the locker room to listen up. He wanted to share his thoughts on Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf dating his ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert.

With the cameras rolling, Avery stated: "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about."

That kind of behavior may have been kosher in the fictional hockey league depicted in Slap Shot, but not so in the buttoned-down and increasingly politically correct world of the NHL. The embarrassed Stars placed Avery on waivers (he was quickly scooped up by his former team, the New York Rangers) and demoted co-GMs Hull and Jackson.

In 1997 Hull entered his last year as a player for the Blues.
Bill Greenblatt/UPI photo service/newscom
In 1997 Hull entered his last year as a player for the Blues.

But Sean Avery was far from the only reason for the move, according to Mike Heika, the hockey beat writer for the Dallas Morning News.

"It was a last-ditch effort for Tom Hicks to fix any messes he made before he lost the team," says Heika. "The Hicks Sports Group was on the edge of bankruptcy, and after the team blew up, the thought process was this was the move that would fix it forever."

Jackson went back to being in charge of scouting, and Hull was given a title of "executive vice president," a vague position with no clear responsibility.

"Brett just kind of went away," says Heika. "He lived in Dallas, but he was never around the team."

It's the week before Christmas, some two full months after Hull returned to the Blues, and his office at Scottrade Center looks like he still hasn't moved in. Dressed in a polo, Hull sits behind a desk that contains a bit of stationary but no computer. The walls in the room are painted a drab beige with a brightly lit Bud Light mini fridge (stocked with aluminum bottles) providing the room its only bit of color. The gift from Anheuser-Busch, which signed a five-year extension last summer as the Blues official beer sponsor, is wasted on the team's new executive vice president.

"I don't drink beer anymore because I don't get to sweat it out the next day in practice," Hull explains. "I drink martinis."

Yes, Hull's title with the Blues is the same as it was in Dallas. But unlike the situation there, Hull seems to have a real purpose in St. Louis.

"Brett Hull is not just an ambassador," says his new boss, Tom Stillman. "He has substantive work to do on these sales pitches with sponsors. He's a bright guy. He's a smart guy. And you don't do what he did without gray matter that works and works quickly."

At a home game Hull can be seen chatting with season-ticket holders and holding court in the corporate suites, regaling the executive set with tales of his playing days and sharing his inside knowledge of the Blues.

Hull will dish his thoughts on the late long-time Blues general manager Ron Caron, who pulled off the trade to get Hull — one of the great steals in NHL history — but who also made a few questionable moves.

"God bless his soul," Hull says of Caron, who passed away in 2012, "but some of the things he did were genius and others were moronic."

Like that time Caron traded Geoff Courtnall, Sergio Momesso and Cliff Ronning to the Vancouver Canucks for defenseman Garth Butcher just before the 1991 playoffs.

"I love Butchie and we became great friends, but did you have to trade away our entire second line to get him? We were one point out of first place that year, and we could have won a Cup," Hull recalls.

When not mingling with fans at the game, Hull may be found stumping for the Blues at publicity events and media appearances, such as when he stopped by KSHE (94.7 FM) the other week to talk hockey, as well as spin a few tunes from Van Halen and the Grateful Dead.

"I'm just a rock & roller," Hull admits.

It's too early to see if Hull's celebrity will once again improve the club's finances like he did when he first arrived in St. Louis. Despite being one of the top teams in the league the past two seasons, the Blues remain one of the NHL's least-valuable franchises, according to Forbes, with a market value of $185 million.

"That's one of the things we're trying to do to kind of revive the franchise and get it stable," says Stillman, who notes that a mid-market club such as the Blues needs the support of the local business community to step up and purchase suites and sponsorships. Who better to take that shot than "the Golden Brett"?

Concludes Stillman: "When Brett Hull leaves a message, that person is probably going to call back."

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