Maybe growing the NHL audience in America has nothing to do with the game. Maybe it's about providing an alternative to the drones who turn most regional and national NHL broadcasts into such sleepy affairs.
Brett Hull began his television career Saturday on NBC, bringing unquestioned hockey credentials and a personality made for TV. The latter quality is vital in a field where most guys apparently have their personalities surgically removed before they're allowed in front of a camera.
Hull breezed through his debut, and it's hard to dispute the rave review he gets from the Toronto Globe and Mail:
Hull is a natural for TV. Working with host Bill Clement and co-analyst Ray Ferraro in the studio, he was smooth, appeared comfortable in front of the camera, and, of course, wasn't short of opinion.
Clearly, Hull is an important find for NBC and also for the league. The NHL may not always like his commentary, but as NBC's business partner in a profit sharing arrangement, it won't say no to Hull bringing new viewers to the telecasts. And he should.
Even more important: Hull starts arguments. The NBC games were still on the air when HFBoards.com lit up with a discussion under the heading "First Stupid Brett Hull comment."