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Brett Hull: troll or not?

Brett Hull wearing the Brett Hull is a cheater t-shirt

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

There’s no question in dubbing the most hated opponent in recent Buffalo Sabres’ history—Brett Hull scored the Cup-winning goal amid dubious circumstances in the third overtime of Game 6 in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, denying the Sabres their first ever championship.  “No Goal” was born.  A cop-out memo from NHL Director of Officiating Bryan Lewis feebly explained the ruling, and Hull’s goal stood even though his skate entered the crease prior to the puck’s arrival.  Buffalo hasn’t returned to the Cup Final since.

A late arrival to the Twitter scene, Hull (@2ndbestHull) posted a photo of himself wearing a “Brett Hull is a Cheater” t-shirt.  In a sense, it’s tough to tell whether Hull’s antics are good-natured trolling or mean-spirited antagonism—he’s drawing traffic back to BorninBuffalo.net, the site that sells the aforementioned t-shirts.

Dave Hassett, co-founder of Born in Buffalo as a fun small business to supplement his primary job as school counselor, says the last 16 hours have been glorious for sales.

“We’ve had 40 [Hull] shirts in shopping carts over the last day,” Hassett said.  “It’s like Christmas, and we’re fully appreciative of it.  Still though, it’s bittersweet [because of the t-shirt’s message and the saga behind it.]”

Ironically, Hull is the #1 purchaser of the specific “Brett Hull is a Cheater” t-shirt from Born in Buffalo, designed by BuffaBlog writer and designer Katie Africano.  While Hassett has asked Hull how the Hall-of-Famer came across his t-shirt, the former Star has been casually mum, pointing to an unnamed Buffalo friend.  Is it Rob Ray?  Maybe, but we can’t be sure. 

Born in Buffalo’s co-founder sounded positive when discussing his interactions with Hull, and views the NHL great from two different sides.  While Hull has the tendency to be rather blunt to the media—a habit rather illuminated by his Twitter account—his choice to play for the U.S. instead of Canada in the World Cup of Hockey endeared him to Hassett and many hockey fans around the States.

Speaking on the origin of the shirt, Hassett remarked, “It’s almost embarrassing.  Shortly after opening, we sold the shirt as a 10-year anniversary shot at the goal.”  Even though the shirt wasn’t major news from the beginning, it’s been seriously revived, and 12-year-old wounds have been reopened.

Still, Hull’s twitter profile has caused quite a stir, as Born in Buffalo Facebook commenters have attacked the “villain” who squashed the Sabres’ Cup hopes. 

—“[Hull’s] a fuckin cheater,” Mitch Larosa writes, and his comment is “liked” by seven more people with the same sentiments.

—“Admitting you’re a douche is the first step in recovery,” Bryan Malanowicz writes, garnering five more “likes.”

The hatred endures.

Regardless, at least some folks take a positive spin on Hull’s wayward attempt at a joke.  “Ultimately, the refs made the call. Don’t like him but he has a good sense of humor!” writes Michelle Cegielski Schickler in the comments.   

Hassett announced over Facebook that, once the Sabres win the Stanley Cup, the shirt design will be retired, and the remaining inventory will be given to a charity.

TAGGED: born in buffalo, brett hull, buffalo sabres, dallas stars

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