How Bobby Hull’s wisdom helped Brendan Shanahan become a Hall of Famer

If you’re an NHL player, you probably don’t appreciate somebody fooling with your stick. Unless that somebody is one of hockey’s all-time greats. And the way he fools with it helps send you on your way to your own Hall of Fame career.

As Brendan Shanahan, a prolific scorer with 656 goals in 22 seasons, heads into the hockey Hall on Monday, recounted the story of how he came to make a key stick change. Shanahan used an unusually large knob on the end of his stick when he came to the St. Louis Blues in 1991. This limited his ability to adjust his stick depending on what kind of pass he got.

One of his Blues teammates, Brett Hull, had been telling Shanahan to cut down on the knob, to no avail. So finally Brett’s father, Bobby, who hung around the Blues, took it upon himself to take those big knobs off Shanahan’s sticks. And one day, when Shanahan rushed onto the ice for practice without taking time to check them, he had the Golden Jet-altered version.

"I was like, ‘Who messed with my sticks?’" Shanahan told "The answer was, ‘Bobby Hull did.’ I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’"

Good answer. Shanahan went on to post his highest goal total that season, 33, and followed up with 51- and 52-goal seasons.

"I remember coming off the ice once, and Bobby was right by the door," said Shanahan, now a senior vice president with the NHL. "It was after I scored a couple of goals with the new way of taping my stick. In his raspy voice he’s like, ‘What did I tell ya? What did I tell ya?’"