The Penguins have an interest in Brett Hull, and the NHL's No. 3 all-time goal scorer likewise has an interest in Mario Lemieux's club.
Funny that such a mutual free-agent attraction would become official right around the time when Penguins' first-liner Aleksey Morozov opted to play in Russia.
"Brett plays right wing," brother and agent Bobby Hull Jr. said yesterday. "What a coincidence."
Actually, Hull Jr. said, Penguins general manager Craig Patrick telephoned the California-based agent "a couple days ago and expressed interest," a period that would jibe with Morozov signing Wednesday with Ak Bars Kazan. The agent told Patrick where the Hulls stood, and that is reportedly close to an agreement with the Dallas Stars which Brett Hull left not long after steering them to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.
Patrick could not be reach for comment yesterday.
The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday that the Stars and Hull are close to a one-year, $2.2 million agreement, and Hull owns a house in and an affinity for Dallas. Phoenix and part-owner Wayne Gretzky also made an offer for Hull, reportedly a two-year deal. So now comes a possible Gretzky-Lemieux tussle into the mix.
"I told him where we were ... and everything is possible," Hull Jr. said of his conversation with Patrick, which, he added, neither involved numbers or an offer. "He said he would talk to Mario and get back to us. But we haven't heard back from him."
Hull Jr. said he and his brother -- who were "studying an offer from Dallas" -- would gladly wait until Tuesday to hear from Patrick and then making a move on a contract with some team.
"There's no rush," the agent said. "Brett's one of the last gunners, the last trigger men, out on the market who's tried and true. It's probably more prudent to be patient."
About this time three years ago, while playing together in a July 2001 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Calif., Lemieux and Hull chatted informally about the possibility of becoming Penguins linemates. It became moot a month later when the free-spending Detroit Red Wings signed Hull to a two-year, $9 million contract. He promptly helped lead them to the 2002 Stanley Cup final. He scored 25 goals and 68 points last season, when he earned $5 million.
Money is no longer a concern for Hull, 39, as the $2.2 million offer from the Stars would attest. After all, the Penguins recently signed Mark Recchi to a three-year contract at an average up to $3 million per, and he's far behind Hull's 741 career goals -- which rank in NHL history behind only Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801).
Hull Jr. said, the factors that would play into his brother's decision would be the team, his friendships and his ability to score 60 goals somewhere over the next two seasons.
"Financially, he doesn't [care] about that anymore," the agent said. "It's team chemistry and where he can help the most. He definitely wants to take a run at Gordie Howe's goal record. Hopefully, we'll give it two full seasons, and he'll have a good shot.
"He likes Mario as a person and as a great hockey player. Brett says if Mario is healthy, he'd love to play with him. It's definitely an enticement for Brett.
"I think those guys would work great with each other."