Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Dallas Stars from A to Z

Puck Daddy's Summer Series: The Dallas Stars from A to Z

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Taylor Baird and Erin Bolen, editors for Defending Big D

A. Art Ross

The Stars franchise has won several of the NHL’s top awards, including Selkes, President’s Trophies, and the Stanley Cup, but it took 48 years before the franchise saw its first Art Ross Trophy winner. The fact it happened when the team didn’t make the playoffs is just another quirky part of franchise history.

Getty Images
Getty Images

The night Jamie Benn won the Art Ross this April was magical for Stars fans. Frantically keeping watch on Sidney Crosby and John Tavares’ nights, fans and players alike willed Jamie Benn to collecting all the points, four in total.

As the third period started, everyone knew Benn needed another two points to beat Tavares, whose game had already finished out East. The Predators were more than willing to play along, pulling their goaltender with a little more than two minutes left in the third and allowing Benn to score an empty netter to tie Tavares. With Tavares holding the tie-breaker, we’re not sure Benn ever left the ice the last 4 minutes, and the entire team wouldn’t attempt a shot unless Benn had been one of the last two to touch the puck. (Really, it was a bit laughable.)

Cody Eakin sealed the scoring title on a goal with eight seconds left, giving Benn a secondary assist. Adding a touch of bittersweet to the moment was the fact that this would become the last game called by long-time play-by-play announcer Ralph Strangis, and the goal call couldn’t have been more classic.

B. Bill Masterton

The most tragic and sobering statistic the NHL has is 1 - the number of players that have died from injuries suffered in a game.

Bill Masterton played for the Minnesota North Stars, scoring the first goal in franchise history. In a game on January 13, 1968, Masterton carried a puck up ice with considerable speed when he and two opposing defenders collided. The force of the hit caused Masterton to fall backwards, hitting his head on the ice.

Bill Masterton
Bill Masterton

This was before helmets became a requirement in the league, and Masterton was not wearing one when he was hit. He passed away on January 15th from massive head injuries, never regaining consciousness. (Of course, it wouldn’t be the NHL if it didn’t take the league 11 years post Masterton’s death to make helmets mandatory.)

The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, named in Masterton’s honor, is awarded every year to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, as voted by the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association.

C. Ciccarelli, Dino

The shining star of Minnesota in the 1980s, Dino Ciccarelli was the first player primarily associated with the North Stars to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with his selection in 2010.

During his decade in Bloomington, Dino was better than a point-per-game player with 332 and 319 assists for 651 points in 602 games. He also had a nose for controversy both on and off the ice, most notably being convicted of assault and spending a day in jail after a 1988 stick-swinging incident where he targeted the head of Maple Leafs rookie Luke Richardson.

He was a part of the North Stars first Stanley Cup Finals run back in 1981, scoring 21 points in 19 playoff games as a rookie as the Stars lost to the dynastic New York Islanders. His number doesn’t hang in the rafters at the American Airlines Center (those honors belong to Masterton, Bill Goldsworthy, Neal Broten and Mike Modano), but he was as big a part of the 1980s North Stars as anyone.

D. Defense

Defense, or as Dallas fans know it: what the Stars have done in the past and hope to do again.

Back when the Stars won the Cup in 1999, they were known for being one of the stingiest defenses in the league, built in the model of one-time-coach and then general manager, four-time Selke winner Bob Gainey. Role players with a defense-first mentality, such as Guy Carbonneau and the Grumpy Old Men line of Mike Keane, John MacLean, and Kirk Muller, and the leaders of those impenetrable defenses like Richard Matvichuk and Derian Hatcher were almost deified by the fanbase. (We even named our blog, Defending Big D, after the team’s identity.)

As the Stars went through bankruptcy, the team changed personnel several times, settling on a brand of hockey that scored a lot more goals. But along the way, defense became more “optional” than identity. With a speedy young core, the Stars recent high-scoring brand of hockey has definitely generated buzz. Still, last season’s defense didn’t get enough credit thanks to some questionable goaltending.

They still might win games by scoring 5-plus goals this season; we just hope they’re more of the 5-2 type than the 6-5 heartburn-inducing variety.

E. Eddie Belfour

“Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!” or perhaps you prefer, “Eddie’s better!” If you want one of the most intense personalities to ever play goal, Eddie “The Eagle” Belfour has to be in the conversation.

He was a man possessed in net, making athletic saves look easy. He also took no prisoners in his crease, often doing a wonderful cup-check of to let forwards know he was there. Belfour backstopped the Stars to their Cup in 1999.

Though his heroics in that series are what most know Belfour for, Dallas residents might better know him for his “Best Bribe – 2000” award. Offering $1 billion to get out of an arrest is just what athletes do, right? Even the way he handled, or really didn’t, being usurped by a rising Marty Turco, hasn’t spoiled his legacy in the minds of fans - at Mike Modano’s jersey retirement ceremony, he received the largest cheers of any returning 1999 team member.

F. Fun

Who said hockey had to be all business, all the time? Assuredly not the Stars. Brett Hull even had an official title that included the word “Fun” in it.

After trying out several in-game entertainment options, including a season of an organ player that didn’t move the needle among the fanbase, the Stars hired one of the most entertaining Dallas-area personalities to do the in-game music. Michael Gruber, aka Grubes, worked at The Ticket in Dallas and is known for his use of audio clips mixed in with his music. He also has fantastic timing.

When the mics of the NHL referees caught them saying “You can’t do that” to Shawn Horcoff,  Grubes made sure to get the audio clip and will drop that in right after a call in games. He also picks relevant music, as when he played “Go Ninja Go Ninja Go” after a Cody “Ginger Ninja” Eakin goal last season. He introduced the taco song for the taco goal the Stars have in the third.

As part of Jason Danby’s team, Grubes and the in-arena entertainment staff, including the fantastic Jumbotron, make sure we don’t take anything too seriously. We’re having a good time here, no?

Ed. Note: Don't forget about celebrity fan, Manti Te'o's girlfriend:

G. Green & Gaglardi

Norm Green and Tom Gaglardi represent the two owners that most shaped the Stars. Green owned the North Stars when they were still in Minnesota. If you ask Minnesota natives why the Stars moved, they’ll likely tell you it was because Green was a jerk (or some other more colorful iteration thereof). For his part, Green has consistently defended his decision to move the franchise to Dallas in 1993 because of poor attendance (an average of 82 percent capacity from 1967-1993) and an inability to reach a new stadium deal.

Whatever the reasons, Green brought hockey to Texas in the form of the Stars, which had a lasting impact on hockey in the state.  Those effects are starting to be felt as players like Seth Jones from Plano begin to represent the sport at the highest levels. Green sold the team to Tom Hicks after hitting financial trouble in 1996.

Fast forward through the Hicks years, in which the franchise hit the highest highs – the Stanley Cup – and the lowest lows when Hicks entered financial trouble, and enter Tom Gaglardi. For a team looking for a light at the end of a bankruptcy-hell tunnel, Gaglardi was the knight in shining armor. From the moment he purchased the team, he’s said all of the right things about how he envisions this team moving forward.

While it may have taken longer to install the talent at all levels than he first thought, the Stars now appear to be on the rise. The great thing about Gaglardi is he is an owner that is visible when he needs to be but isn’t meddlesome. There were initially questions about whether he could survive in the Dallas sports landscape with owners like Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones, but the quiet Canadian businessman seems to know when to let his people do their jobs and gives them the support they need to execute.

H. Handsome

Even objectively, the Dallas Stars will ice what has to be the most handsome team in the league next year.

Exhibit A: Jamie Benn

<span style=font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; line-height: 13px; background-color: #f8f8f8;>GettyImages-478979442</span>
GettyImages-478979442

Exhibit B: Tyler Seguin

Exhibit C: Patrick Sharp

So pretty is the company the Dallas Stars players keep.

I. Iginla, Jarome

Who is the Stars best first-round pick that never played for the team? While this might be a point of debate for some franchises, the answer for Dallas is clear - Jarome Iginla.

Selected 11th overall in 1995 by the Stars, Iginla became the centerpiece of a trade that sent Joe Nieuwendyk to Dallas that December for Iginla and Corey Millen. Whether or not the Calgary Flames originally wanted Todd Harvey - coming off a 20-point-in-40-games rookie season and and producing at a similar pace as a sophomore - and were offered Iginla in his place, as rumors suggest, or if they would have been happy with either Harvey or Iginla and even preferred Iginla (as this 1995 article posits), it was a classic deal that worked out in the long term for both sides.

Nieuwendyk was a key piece in the Stars glory years from 1997-2000, winning the Conn Smythe in 1999 for his game-winning goal heriocs, and Iginla developed into the face of the Flames for more than a decade. Nieuwendyk is already in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Iginla will have a decent case , if possibly short on a little hardware, when he finally hangs them up. Whatever the reason, fun photographs like this are still around as a reminder that Iginla originally belonged in green and black.

J. Jere Lehtinen

Jere Lehtinen was the Robin to Mike Modano’s Batman. While Modano scored a lot of points and was considered the face of the franchise, Lehtinen quietly went about his business as one of the best two-way forwards in the league. He even collected three Selke awards to prove it (1998, 1999, 2003) across his 14-year career with the Dallas Stars. Lehtinen also loves death metal music and has super powers over Patrick Roy.

K. Klingman, John

Never heard of John Klingman? Neither had Stars fans when their team faced the Chicago Blackhawks last season. In what was a bad night at the office for the NBCSN crew, John Klingman was one of several players to make their NHL debuts along with Jordan Benn and Dominic Roussel. Something tells us they will learn John Klingberg’s real name soon enough.

The young defenseman outscored media darling and rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad on a points-per-game basis last season. He played in significantly fewer games and still nearly outscored Ekblad in much more difficult minutes, and signed a very cap-friendly long-term deal. He’s another young part of the Stars core, and though small, he has learned from the best that being small on defense doesn’t have to be a problem. Though we do agree that he was nigh unrecognizable like this.

L. Liverpool

Tom Hicks may have brought the Stanley Cup to Dallas, but fans aren’t likely to remember that part of his legacy, especially Dallas-area fans that also happen to be Texas Rangers fans.

In 2007, Hicks decided it would be fun to own a portion of Liverpool FC, and in sinking that kind of money and loading the European football team with debt, combined with the real-estate market crash of the time, Hicks ultimately ran into corporate bankruptcy. While racking up that debt for Liverpool, both the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars were run into the ground.

The sale of the Rangers concluded first, mostly because Hicks thought he could hold onto the Stars somehow in the mess that became his sports-team finances. The internal budget the Stars operated under during those years left a product on the ice that was competitive enough to finish around 10th in the West, but hamstrung them from being able to sign free agents or make meaningful trades. Without a competitive team, the fans in Dallas took their entertainment dollars elsewhere, and attendance hit all-time lows since the move to Dallas.

M. Mike Modano

Mike Modano is amazing and we will hear no word to the contrary.

(Even if no Canadians know how to pronounce your name properly, Mr. Mah-dah-no, not Mo-dan-o.)

Mike Modano
Mike Modano

The city fell in love with Modano, and Modano fell in love with the city.

Modano
Modano

His impact on hockey in Texas and USA hockey (as the highest-scoring US-born player to ever play in the NHL) will be far-reaching.

Nobody will ever remember you wore the hated Red Wings logo, Mike. This is the image that lives on forever when we remember Mike Modano. This, and all the crying you liked to do in front of us.

N. Ninja

Jim Nill, who became the Stars general manager during the last game of the 2012-13 season, is an interesting man to get a handle on. On one hand, he makes very measured moves with his prospects and says all the right things each summer about how the team will take it slow and steady, letting things settle and letting the front office get a better handle of the situation and the players develop chemistry. Then, you know, he goes out and trades for Seguin, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp in early July. Just the usual.

O. Overtime(s)

Pity the poor Stars fan who came onboard during the President's Trophy years. They have seen five of the 20 longest games in NHL history starting in 1999, when the team found ridiculously long overtime to be so fun in the first round they decided to win the Cup that way. Those five games in the top 20 are the most of any NHL team, which is a little ridiculous when you consider the franchise wasn't even born until 1967 and even more ridiculous when you realize all five games came within a decade of each other, from 1999 to 2008. Marty Turco starred in the three longest of those games, all of which went to at least four overtimes (the 4OT win over the Sharks in 2008, with the Brenden Morrow winner, a 4OT loss to the Canucks in 2007 and the ridiculous 5OT loss to the [Mighty] Ducks in 2003).

It’s a little fitting, then that the North Stars were involved in the first ever regular-season overtime game, a 3-3 tie against the Los Angeles Kings on Oct. 5, 1983, and that the Stars are the franchise that won the Cup the deepest into overtime in NHL history.

P. Possession

We’ll admit, Stars fans have had fun with schadenfreude over the years, mostly at the expense of the Buffalo Sabres. Even Brett Hull has gotten into the act.

And that’s because that goal in 1999 was, is and forever will be legal.

In a memo sent out in March of 1999, the NHL clarified this following scenario:

“An attacking player maintains control of the puck but skates into the crease before the puck enters the crease and shoots the puck into the net. Result: Goal is allowed. The offside-rule rationale applies.”

On the goal in question, Hull originally takes possession of the puck on a deflection of a shot from the left side and follows that to the crease. Dominik Hasek makes a very nice save, but a save has never constituted a change in possession - compare the situation to a delayed penalty call, where a save doesn’t lead to blowing the play down. Hull follows his shot and, for good measure, demonstrates control of the puck again with both feet outside the crease, kicking the puck from his left skate to his stick on the right side. The kick and subsequent turn of his hips to line up the shot leads to his foot in the crease before the puck enters again, but because he had possession before this point, he is absolutely allowed to be there.

Now, was the NHL pretty inconsistent in recognizing this situation? Absolutely. But given the black-and-white nature of this rule, they still got it right, no matter how much (then-Buffalo, current Stars coach) Lindy Ruff may not want to admit it even now.

Q. Qualified Legacy

Both Hull and Joe Nieuwendyk, who were universally beloved before their general manager tenures, now have much more complicated franchise legacies than man who scored the Cup-winning goal and Conn Smythe winner.

Hull was a more curious selection when we has named co-general manager with Les Jackson in the November of 2007. While he’d been around the Stars front office for several years to that point, there wasn’t much evidence of Hull in a true management role. And the tenure of that two-headed-GM-monster was less than two seasons, as they were removed after an incredibly disappointing 2008-09 campaign, the shortest GM stint in franchise history.

They were replaced by Joe Nieuwendyk, who wasn’t much more successful at the NHL level. Although he was able to find quality prospect depth in the draft and via unsigned free agents like Brenden Dillon, the NHL team largely struggled during his four seasons.

R. Razor and Ralph

It's the end of an era for Stars fans this fall, as for the first time since 1996, the games will take place without the duo of Daryl Reaugh and Ralph Strangis in the broadcast booth.

While Reaugh is remaining as the team's color man extraordinaire, Strangis left the team shortly after the season ended in a surprise move, just one year after he signed a contract extension. Strangis had been in the booth since before the team moved to Texas with Reaugh joining him in ‘96, and they made up one of the best duos in hockey.

The Stars remain one of just two teams to simulcast on television and radio since a Stars game isn't a Stars game without those voices on the call. Dave Strader replaced Strangis, and with a long pedigree and history with Razor, he will certainly be able to take the ball and run with it. But for nearly 20 years, Ralph and Razor were Stars hockey, and there will definitely be an adjustment period for fans in October.

S. Sergei Zubov

An article about the Stars isn't complete without mentioning the best defensemen in franchise history and arguably the greatest Russian defenseman of the NHL era (yes, Sergei Gonchar has more points, but Sergei Zubov had better defense, more Cup wins and a significantly better points per game average.

Zubov was one of the best defensemen in an era of giants at the position, and the only reason he isn't talked about more for the Hall of Fame is not enough people were exposed to his consistent greatness. What made Zubov great was his vision and hockey sense, as demonstrated in maybe one of the best regular season goals in Stars history. We can't even imagine how he'd light up the more open league today.

T. Twitter

While not the first team to develop a distinctive social media personality, the Stars have certainly embraced it. From their BFF relationship with the Columbus Blue Jackets...

... to their poking at Pittsburgh when the Penguins are taking the draft a wee bit too seriously:

The Stars social media team is one of the best in the league. Heck, this is a team that even announced the Patrick Sharp trade via Periscope because why wouldn't they? Their most memorable foray was one of the earliest, when they fired back the perfect retort at the Dallas Cowboys:

U. Ugly

Please don't get us started on how bad the Stars goaltending was last season. With a team that could score on par with the Lightning and Islanders, and a defense that actually kept shots down to a reasonable level (seriously), the Stars should have been staring at a return trip to the playoffs. Instead, Kari Lehtonen got worse as the team in front of him got better, posting an abysmal .899 save percentage from Jan. 1 on. The team in front of the net seems ready, which is a big part of the reason the Stars were willing to spend $10.4 million in cap space on goalies for the next three years. When your problems can be summed up by a single position, that's the place to spend money.

V. Victor E. Green

Vic is a strange creature who met to some mixed reviews among long-time fans (the Stars hadn't had a mascot since the short-lived duo of Starsky and Puck early in the franchise's run in Dallas), though he was an immediate hit among kids. His name is derived from a play on the words Victory Green, which is the official name of the Stars rebranded color unveiled several seasons ago. Yes, the fact that he can go by Mr. Green is delightful, and if he's going to continue to take after Seguin, he can stay.

Victor E Green
Victor E Green

W. Western

Dallas isn't as much of a cowboy town as it may seem from far away (that honor goes to Fort Worth), and the Stars don't always go with the Western motif for their in-arena videos or other PR work. But they do go there occasionally, and it's usually glorious.

A slightly older example is the excellent Johnny Cash in-arena intro from 2011-12:

More recently, the pre-season open from last year was very well done:

Lehtonen has featured the motif in his masks a few times, with an homage to Tombstone and once featuring the cowboy of all cowboys, Chuck Norris.

Plus there was the 'player of the game' award from a few season ago which was, you guessed it, a cowboy hat. Antoine Roussel wears it well.

X. X-Factor

It's been chronicled by many, but Tyler Seguin is kind of a ridiculous human being. With his elastic face  and most-interesting-man-in-the-world summer vacations, it’s easy to lose sight of exactly what a talented hockey player he is. Only Sidney Crosby was more productive in terms of points per game last season, and he, not Benn, was the Stars’ Art Ross candidate before Dmitry Kulikov went submarine on his knee.

He still has a lot to prove though, even as a Stanley Cup winner.

Can he be 'The Guy' on a team that needs him to step up in the biggest moments? Can he balance all the fun he has on a young, brash team with the work it takes to win? All early signs are yes - Stars fans couldn't ask much more out of Seguin in his first two years in Dallas. But given his history and especially the claims the Bruins made about him, some will always question him until he leads a team to a championship.

Y. Yikes

The Stars do some things well, but first-round draft picks have never really been consistently among their strengths. There were a few good runs during the North Stars days (notably the 1988-1991 stretch where they picked up Modano, Doug Zmolek, Derian Hatcher and Richard Matvichuk with top 10 picks), and players like Brian Bellows, Bobby Smith, Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla all carved out very solid careers for themselves.

But there are also problems like Jason Botterill, Warren Babe, David Quinn, Jason Bacashihua and, more recently, Scott Glennie. Combine that with yet-to-be-determined decisions like drafting goaltender Jack Campbell over Cam Fowler, and, well, some fans have a twitch every time the first round is mentioned. Jim Nill seems to stray off the beaten path just a touch, such as his selection of Denis Gurianov over more known quantities this year, but only time will tell whether he falls victim to the same curse.

Z. Zeis, Dave

Dave Zeis is the Stars’ head athletic trainer. If you're not a Stars fan, you may better know him as one of the two men who picked up Rich Peverley by his arms and legs and carried him back to the hallway on that frightening evening where Peverley went into cardiac arrest on the Stars bench.

He was, as Razor puts it, a rock star that night along with assistant trainer Craig Lowry and members of the Stars medical staff, who were on the scene immediately. We’re sure Zeis would say he was just doing his job, responding to a medical event the way his training was designed, but he and those around him turned what could have been a tragedy into a relative success story. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest has a survival rate of around 10 percent, and while Peverley has yet to return to playing, he spent most of the last year and a half assisting the Stars coaching staffs at both the NHL and AHL level.

Meet the authors: Taylor Baird (@taylordbaird) and Erin Bolen (@ErinB_DBD) are editors for SBNation’s Defending Big D. Taylor’s been a fan of the Dallas Stars ever since a terrible, no good, very bad blind date to a Stars game when she first moved to Dallas. She’s trying to learn how to play hockey but looks like Bambi on skates so far. Erin does play hockey despite looking like Bambi on skates and fell for the Stars during their President’s Trophy years.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus