Hullie’s big night in St Louis …
"To have an organization think that much of you is more than one guy can ask," Hull said.
Hull's nickname, "Golden Brett" was a takeoff of father Bobby Hull's moniker, "Golden Jet." The pair are the only father-son combination to each score 600 goals and 1,000 points, and now they're the only father and son to have their jerseys retired in any sport.
The banner with Hull's number was slowly raised to the rafters to a Neil Young rock song with appropriate lyrics: "Old man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you."
The team also arranged to call the street that borders outside their arena "Brett Hull Way."
Hull outscored his dad, 741-610. Bobby Hull's No. 9 was retired by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983.
Adam Oates was among the 20 former teammates who attended the ceremonies before the Blues-Red Wings game. The present roster all wore No. 16 during warmups, just as they all wore No. 2 during Al MacInnis' jersey retirement ceremony last April.
"Brett, nothing compares to the three years I got to play with you," Oates said. "It was the highlight of my career."
Chairman David Checketts made honoring Hull a top priority when his ownership group took over last summer. He was hopeful that the occasion, which prompted the first sellout crowd of the season for a struggling franchise often playing to half-capacity or less, would spur the beginning of a revival.
Some wins are wins. Other wins make you proud. Example #1 was Marty Turco and the Stars playing with about 30% of their talent and yet working their tails off on Monday night to beat a full strength San Jose team.
Example #2 was last night in New Jersey. They were great. They worked on offense, but even harder on defense. I loved what I saw last night, and it was beautiful to behold one night after being embarrassed in Washington.
Mavericks dominate the New Jersey Nets …
A recent six-game losing streak is still fresh in their memories. They had two days off to prepare for last night's game and had a chance to win three in a row for the first time all season. On top of all of that, the Dallas Mavericks - the defending Western Conference champions - were in town.
The Nets had every reason to be energetic and excited going into last night's game. The fact that they were admittedly neither may be the most disappointing aspect of what has so far been a very disappointing season for the Nets.
After missing their first six shots and scoring just 14 points in the first quarter, the Nets couldn't recover and lost to the Mavericks, 92-75, at the Meadowlands.
Dallas' do-it-all 7-footer, Dirk Nowitzki, scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while Josh Howard chipped in with 20 points for the Mavs (13-5).
Vince Carter scored 20 points for the Nets (7-10) on just 6-for-19 shooting. Nenad Krstic had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Richard Jefferson added 12 and Jason Kidd 10.
Unlike last week, when he ripped into his team following an embarrassing home loss to the Bobcats, Lawrence Frank was subdued after this one. But even though he spoke quietly, what he said about his team was telling - and to him, disturbing.
"It's hard to explain. We just didn't, for whatever reason, seem to have a great deal of pep in our step, a great deal of energy throughout that first half," said Frank.
"My immediate response may be wrong," he added, "but it just seemed like Dallas had a great sense of urgency and we weren't able to meet it."
Kidd, the team captain, agreed.
"Playing against the Western Conference champions and there was no excitement," he said.
Zito to San Fran? …
The Giants, rebuffed in their efforts to sign one of the premier hitters on the market, are looking into acquiring the winter's biggest pitching prize.
Two sources familiar with the talks said Tuesday the Giants have talked to agent Scott Boras about free-agent pitcher Barry Zito, who is being wooed by some of the richest teams in baseball but might have an option now to play across the bay from his career-long home in Oakland.
It is unclear how serious the negotiations are and how interested Zito might be in San Francisco. He has been pursued aggressively by a number of clubs, including the New York Mets, Texas Rangers and some of the teams in Southern California, where he lives.
There is speculation Zito could command a contract approaching $100 million for six years, and he is represented by Boras. Ordinarily, the Giants run from those dynamics. However, Boras and Sabean met Tuesday and discussed the pitcher, whom Boras is marketing as if he would be a bargain at $100 million.
How about Leach to Miami? Still noting definitive ….
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach described his Monday meeting with Miami athletic director Paul Dee as an unplanned, informal encounter in a New York hotel lobby.
Three South Florida newspapers reported Tuesday that Miami, which is looking for a replacement for fired coach Larry Coker, turned its attention to Leach after Rutgers coach Greg Schiano announced he was not interested in the position.
"There's all these rumors and things, but I haven't talked to anybody officially," Leach said Tuesday evening. "Sorry, I don't have this keg of excitement for you."
Leach, who has a 55-33 record in seven seasons at Tech, was noncommittal when asked about his interest level in the Miami job.
"I don't know enough about it to say," Leach said.
Leach and Dee were among the dozens of coaches and athletic directors in New York for the National Football Foundation's College Hall of Fame inductions at Waldof Astoria.
Tech athletic director Gerald Myers, who also attended the event, said nobody from Miami has requested permission to formally interview Leach. Myers said he had not discussed the matter with Leach.
"Nothing is going on that I know about," Myers said.
It would be a no-brainer if he is offered the job, though …
If I were Mike Leach, I'd recognize that moving to Miami might be a disaster. I'd wonder how my surly pirate act would play in a big media market, I'd worry about the job security of a place that fired a guy only five years after he won a national championship, and I'd be concerned about how my quiet Mormon family would react to South Beach.
And then, if I were Leach, I'd take the job in a heartbeat.
It might not come to that. Even though the Texas Tech football coach reportedly met with Miami athletic director Paul Dee earlier this week in New York, it's not certain if Leach has been — or will be — offered the chance to replace the ousted Larry Coker.
But if the offer comes — and several knowledgeable people say it might — Leach's choice is so obvious, not even an eye patch can hide it. Just as a good pirate never misses an opportunity to loot and plunder, a good coach never wastes a chance to raise his profile.
That's why college guys like Nick Saban jump to the NFL, and why West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez is flirting with Alabama this week, and why Dan McCarney erred by not getting out of Iowa State sooner.
McCarney, who rescued the Cyclones from decades of misery, never took advantage of his breakthrough. In an admirable yet naïve display of loyalty, he shunned interest from other schools and stayed committed to the program he'd helped resurrect.
In doing so, to put it in terms Leach would appreciate, McCarney walked the plank.
Now, McCarney is out of a job, which is the way almost all of these coaching stories end. The age of Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno is over, and no one expects to stay in one place for much longer than a decade anymore.
Weekly Gosselin …
Julius Jones, RB, Dallas. Jones continues to start, but it's Marion Barber who's doing the heavy lifting for Bill Parcells. As the games have gotten bigger, Barber's presence has grown larger. He has scored touchdowns in the last four games, seven TDs in all, and has led the Cowboys in rushing in three of those games. Jones hasn't had a 100-yard rushing game nor has he scored a touchdown since October.
Around the Ranch
With two more drops Sunday against the Giants, Terrell Owens leads the NFL in dropped passes this season with 12. Owens entered last weekend tied with Minnesota's Troy Williamson with 10, but Williamson was inactive Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Darrell Jackson dropped two passes for Seattle on Sunday and joined Williamson with 10. Our thanks to Stats Inc. for that tidbit.
Don Pierson’s top 10 teams …
1. Chargers 10-2. Get their turn at revolving top of heap.
2. Colts 10-2. Last big road test awaits in Jacksonville.
3. Patriots 9-3. Three of final four games are on road.
4. Bears 10-2. Is it Rex or Wrecks? Lovie sticks with him.
5. Ravens 9-3. Had time to get back on track for Chiefs.
6. Cowboys 8-4. Romo vs. Brees in another headliner.
7. Saints 8-4. Miracle worst to first in NFC South.
8. Seahawks 8-4. Getting big kicks out of this season.
9. Bengals 7-5. Scrambling to get back reputation.
10. Jets 7-5. Facing easier schedule than Bengals.
Modano versus Romo for the Top #9 jersey in Dallas …
US Soccer does a good thing! ….
Jürgen Klinsmann will be named head coach of the U.S. men's national team within two weeks according to a number of well-placed sources with knowledge of the deal.
His appointment as coach was perhaps the worst-kept secret in American soccer: Klinsmann publicly acknowledged that he was interested in the job and there has been persistent buzz since the World Cup ended in July that the interview process for the national team job was essentially a matter of going through the motions.
Warren Mersereau, who is both Klinsmann's business partner and representative, said "no comment" when contacted for this story.
There were two sticking points in signing Klinsmann: The first was Klinsmann's long relationship with adidas. The U.S. national soccer team is heavily underwritten by Nike, and sources at the shoewear companies said talk of the appointment initially caused some concern. According to a person connected with the shoe company today, Klinsmann has left adidas, solving the issue in one fell swoop.
The second issue looks to be more contentious. Speaking on condition of anonymity granted because they were not given permission to speak about the appointment, two sources confirmed that the issue of power-sharing was a major bone of contention. Former coach Bruce Arena had carved out a wide swath for himself during his tenure, and Klinsmann has reportedly demanded that he too be essentially the sole decision-maker on national team matters.
This has not sat well with some at the Federation, who were mindful of past friction. According to several people at the team level with intimate knowledge of the subject, relations between General Secretary Dan Flynn and Arena deteriorated to the point that the two men barely spoke to one another.
Sleeper Cell Next Week! …
Great Review of the Wire : Episode 12 …
Corporate America butchers One