Brett Hull, the third-leading scorer in NHL history, announced his retirement Saturday, effective immediately.

"I had so much fun coming to the rink day after day," he said at a news conference, his voice choking with emotion.

"I wish no one had to do this because it's so hard, it's hard because you never think you're going to grow older and be unable to live up to the expectations you set for yourself."

The 41-year-old Hull, who had one assist in five games for the Phoenix Coyotes in his 19th NHL season, had to stop to gain control of his emotions, making the announcement with his four children, fiancee and several former teammates on hand.

The announcement came two hours before the Coyotes faced his former team, the Detroit Red Wings.

"The National Hockey League will miss Brett's skill, his scoring touch and his fun-loving attitude," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "He was a splendid athlete, a passionate player and someone who never hesitated to speak his mind."

Hull signed with the Coyotes on Aug. 6, 2004, because he wanted to play for his longtime friend, Wayne Gretzky, who is in his first season as Phoenix's coach. Only Gretzky and Gordie Howe have more goals than Hull in NHL history.

"His records speak for themselves," Gretzky said. "My dad told me today that I ran an 800-goal scorer out of hockey."

Before the Coyotes' home opener a week ago, Hull's father, Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, had his No. 16 "un-retired" so his son Brett could wear it this season.

Hull had 741 goals and 650 assists in a long NHL career with Calgary, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix.

He won Stanley Cup titles in 1999 with Dallas and 2002 with Detroit. In 1999, he scored a controversial goal in the third overtime to give the Stars a 2-1 win over Buffalo in the series-ending sixth game.

Hull played in nine all-star games. He was the league MVP in 1991.

Brett Hull amassed 741 goals and 650 assists with five teams over his 19 seasons.