(Ed. Note: It’s the NHL Alternate History project! We’ve asked fans and bloggers from 31 teams to pick one turning point in their franchise’s history and ask ‘what if things had gone differently?’ Trades, hirings, firings, wins, losses, injuries … all of it. How would one different outcome change the course of history for an NHL team? Today: Sean Shapiro, author of the upcoming ‘100 Things Stars Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die,’ on the Dallas Stars! Enjoy!)
By Sean Shapiro
The Dallas Stars had the right family. They just picked the wrong twin in the 2000 NHL Draft.
In the third round, Dallas picked Joel Lundqvist with the 68th overall pick. And Joel Lundqvist was a solid two-way center, he could kill penalties and he turned into a serviceable NHL player that skated in 134 games with the Stars — not half bad for a third-rounder in an average draft.
It really wasn’t a bad pick, especially when you consider the two preceding draft picks never played an NHL game.
The problem is that Joel had a twin brother. His name was Henrik, and he was a goalie. A goalie who turned into the best player from the 2000 draft class after NHL general managers on a whole decided that there were 204 more draftable prospects than the future Vezina Trophy winner.
To rub more salt in Dallas’ wound, Henrik Lundqvist really wanted to be a Star.
After Joel was taken in the third round Henrik sat and waited. Twenty-one goalies had already been picked at that time, but he was hopeful the Stars would pick him in the sixth round with the 192nd selection.
“I mean, all my buddies had been taken and were kind of looking at me. We were all sitting in the same row. Nobody knew exactly how to act or what to say. It was kind of like, ‘Come on, Hank.’ It was not a great feeling,” Henrik Lundqvist told the New York Post in 2014. “Then after the fifth round, someone from Dallas said since they’d taken my brother, they were going to take me in the sixth round.”
So when they were about to announce the Stars pick Henrik was ready.
“I was really excited,” he said. “I starting moving up to the edge of my seat, thinking I would hear my name. I remember hearing, ‘Dallas selects….’
“It seemed like such a long time before they said his name,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
Eventually the New York Rangers ended Henrik Lundqvist’s misery and picked him in the seventh round with the 205th pick.
But what if the Stars had followed through and picked Henrik Lundqvist in the sixth round instead of a player that never left the Czech Republic?
Instead of making his NHL debut in the 2005-06 season like he did with the Rangers, Henrik would have spent another season playing for Frolunda in the SHL alongside Joel. Before the 2006-07 season the Stars would have brought the twins over to North America, and Lundqvist would have started as a back-up to Marty Turco instead of Mike Smith.
Lundqvist would eventually force a timeshare in net with Turco by the end of the season and things got a bit rocky heading into the 2007-08 season as the Stars tried to juggle goalies. With the younger Lundqvist looking like a, well, Star — Turco was expendable.
The Stars still make the trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning in late February for Brad Richards, but instead of having to give up a package, the Stars pull off a one-for-one deal and Turco heads to Tampa.
With Jussi Jokinen still part of the team (and to a lesser extent Jeff Halpern) the Stars are able to get over the hump in the Western Conference Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. In Game 7, Jokinen gets loose on a breakaway for the series clinching goal after a pass from Joel Lundqvist, who has reached a new level playing with his twin brother.
After winning the Stanley Cup in six games against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Lundqvist brothers take a tandem lap with the Stanley Cup at American Airlines Center.
Winning the 2008 Stanley Cup changes everything for the Stars.
Thanks to Lundqvist’s calming play early in the 2007-08 season general manager Doug Armstrong was never fired, avoiding the Brett Hull GM era. Dave Tippett also kept his job. Heck even the ownership group led by Tom Hicks was able to avoid bankruptcy issues thanks to surging attendance.
Joel Lundqvist never returns to Sweden, the Stars never trade for Kari Lehtonen, and for better or worse Tom Gaglardi never buys the team — it didn’t need saving — and the likes of Jim Nill, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza aren’t part of the Stars franchise today.
Instead, the Stars got another Cup, and a new face — or faces — of the franchise in the Lundqvists.
Sean Shapiro covers the Dallas Stars for a handful of publications including NHL.com, WrongSideOfTheRedLine.com, and WFAA Sports. He is working on his first book, “100 Things Stars Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” which is due out in October 2018.
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