(This month, Puck Daddy asked bloggers for every NHL team to tell us The Essentials for their franchises — everything from the defining player and trade, to the indispensable fan traditions. Here's Brandon Worley from Defending Big D, giving us The Essentials for the Dallas Stars.)
By Brandon Worley
Player: Mike Modano
Franchise leader in goals, assists, points, games played and a host of other records, Mike Modano has long been the face of hockey in North Texas. Hockey fans from around the globe became fans of the Stars because of Modano and the incredible popularity of the sport in Dallas can be directly attributed to Modano's impact both on the ice and off. The image of Modano flying down the ice, his jersey flapping behind him in the breeze, is what has defined this franchise for so long.
This was the year everything came together. Bob Gainey had made a series of shrewd trades and free agent signings on a mission to win the sport's highest honor. A year after a disappointing exit in the Western Conference Finals, the Stars approached the 1998-99 season with machine-like efficiency.
When Stars fans think back to the "glory days" -- just 13 years ago -- we remember this time, when the Stars were the most popular team in town and the best players on the roster were some of the best the NHL had to offer. This was a time when fans across the Metroplex embraced this non-traditional sport, culminating in the greatest victory this franchise has ever known.
Game: 1999 Western Conference Final, Game 6
Many would think of the Cup-winning game as the defining moment in Stars history. Yet this game, with the Stars again facing elimination in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, would become the turning point for this franchise.
Trailing early in the game and tied headed into the third period, the Stars would completely take over the final 20 minutes and set the tone for what would be a dominant victory in Game 7 on their way to the Stanley Cup. This was the game the Stars were unable to win in previous seasons and in this game, the Stars proved to themselves they had the championship mentality of being able to stand up when the stakes were at their highest and dominate what most considered a better team on the road.
Goal: Brett Hull's Goal
Years later this is still a point of contention for bitter Sabres fans. A symbol of why the crease rules of the time were so ridiculous, Hull's goal was actually well within the rules at the time no matter what others will try to say. The NHL would change the rules to avoid further controversy, which apparently did nothing but add fuel to the fire for debate. Go back and see what the NHL's response was immediately after the goal -- and I mean immediately -- for further proof of the legalities of this goal. Good goal, the Stars win the Stanley Cup. For Stars fans, it was the ultimate moment of glory and victory and one that we'll never let anyone attempt to take away from us.
Trade: Kevin Hatcher for Sergei Zubov
No one thought twice about this trade when it was made between the Dallas Stars and Pittsburgh Penguins in June of 1996, yet Zubov would instantly become the foundation around which the Stars highly-respected defense would be built. The perfect combination of power play skill, vision and overall defensive ability Zubov has become the standard against which all Stars defensemen are now judged. Kevin Hatcher is but a footnote in this deal, a decent veteran at the time, who was flipped for the best defenseman this franchise has ever known.
Unsung Hero: Sergei Zubov
It's a shame that Zubov never received the recognition outside of Dallas that he so rightly deserved. Zubov appeared in just three All-Star games and was a Norris finalist just once; and as the years have passed, it seems that those around the NHL have come to recognize just how special this defenseman truly was for so long. Stars fans know and understand just how important Zubov was to this franchise over the years and like others, it was painful to see him leave -- perhaps more than most.
Franchise Villain: Bryan Marchment
There are some who say that Bryan Marchment is to blame for the Stars not winning the Stanley Cup in 1998, when his blatant knee-on-knee hit of Joe Nieuwendyk took out the Stars second-line center for the rest of the postseason and half of the 1998-99 season.
Marchment, known for his deliberate attempts to injure, would also target Mike Modano and others on the Stars during his time with the Oilers and Sharks. If there were a plaque at the American Airlines Center for "Public Enemy No. 1" -- Marchment's face would be front and center.
Fight: Downey vs. Boulerice
"Discard what you don't need!" -- These words will forever live in the annals of Dallas Stars history, spoken as Aaron Downey prepared for his one-punch takedown of Jesse Boulerice.
Coach: Ken Hitchcock
Hitchcock was able to do what Bob Gainey knew he couldn't, lead and coach a team to the Stanley Cup. Gainey was more than capable of building a championship-worthy team but he needed Hitchcock to put it all together on the ice. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment was the transformation of Mike Modano from an offensive-dynamo to a top-line center that embraced the importance of playing defense.
Hitchcock was not the easiest coach to play for and his ways grew tiresome as the years progressed, but the Stars would never be the franchise they are now without old Hitch standing tall on the Dallas bench.
Broadcaster: Daryl "Razor" Reaugh
Known around the NHL as perhaps the best color commentator in the business, Razor has become famous for his descriptive phrases that boggle the mind and send hockey fans racing for the dictionary to attempt to make sense of what he just said. While his use of colorful phrases has made him famous around the league, it's his ability to teach and inform about the game of hockey while commentating on each particular game that really puts him in the annals of some of the greatest to ever call this sport.
Arena Behavior/Tradition/Trend: "STARS!"
I don't know how it started or when, exactly, but Stars fans -- not just at home in Dallas -- are proud to shout "Stars" at the top of their lungs when the word is sung during the National Anthem. While it's great to hear so many fans in unison at home, it's odd to see the same happen on the road with the few Stars fans throughout the crowd doing their best to hold onto tradition.
The AAC has never had food that really stands out but what they do have is a great selection of beers, including that Texas staple -- Shiner. The looks on people's faces when they realize they can get a tall Shiner at a hockey game is priceless, and it's made surviving the past few years that much easier.
Swag (jersey, hat, shirt, gear, etc.): Stuffed Otter
Steve Ott is going to be sorely missed around these parts, a player who was embraced by fans for his actions on and off the ice. Look no further than the stuffed Otter that was so popular with Stars fans for a sign of just how beloved he was in his time here.
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