Friday, August 27, 2010

Mike Heika names the Dallas Mount Puckmore

So far about half of the NHL Teams have been featured in the Mount Puckmore Series where writers, reporters, bloggers and fans have been giving their submissions for their Mount Rushmore's for their teams.

Today Mike Heika gave his report on the Mount Puckmore series and it should be very exciting for Dallas Stars fans as Mike Heika named Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Sergei Zubov and former Head Coach Bob Gainey to the teams list.

For Modano, Lehtinen and Zubov, these were no brainers as they have been the cornerstones of the franchise until recently with Modano heading to Detroit, Zubov heading back home to Russia and Lehtinen's status uncertain about whatever or not he's going to return.

To me it was interesting to see who the 4th member, he made his decision on Bob Gainey as along with Modano, was another huge part of growing and selling the game behind the scenes and getting the area to help build more ice rinks which eventually lead to the Dr. Pepper Starscenter which used to be in Valley Ranch & Duncanville. Now they are currently 5 in Frisco, Mckinney, Plano, Farmers Branch and Euless.

While he was Head Coach and later GM, he pulled off some big trades that brought in Sergei Zubov, Darryl Sydor and Jarome Iginla which later traded him to get Joe Nieuwendyk.

Here's the Report from Mike Heika on the Puck Daddy Blog

As much as the Stars are not in the NHL spotlight right now, they have a strong history in their time in Dallas. Since 1996, their .619 Winning % (583-329-154) is the third best in the NHL (only behind the Detroit Red Wings & New Jersey Devils). They have seven division titles, four appearances in the Western Conference Finals, and the 1999 Stanley Cup.

So there are some pretty good choices for the Mt. Puckmore of Dallas.

We'll start with an apology to Neal Broten. He played in Dallas, scored the first goal in Dallas Stars history, and his association with the Miracle of Ice helped build the sport in Texas. But, the instructions were to pick the top four for the Dallas Stars, so Broten just didn't fit.

So with that in mind, here are the four faces that define this franchise (at least as far as one guys says.)

Mike Modano

A slam dunk, no matter that he will play in Detroit this season. Modano holds pretty much every offensive record in franchise history, and pretty much sold the state on hockey. Maybe somebody would have eventually come to Texas and spread the good word of the sport, but it's difficult to imagine anyone doing it better then Modano.

He's exciting to watch, affable, handsome and accessible. What's more, he was smart enough to adjust his game to the desire of Bob Gainey and Ken Hitchcock, and that allows the two to forge the record, the division championships _ and eventually the Stanley Cup.

Modano's decision to play defense meant that every player on the team had to play defense, and that was the key to the team coming together.

Modano played 1,142 of his 1,159 games wearing the sweater of the Dallas Stars, and that in itself him face of the franchise. The fact he did it with the style he did make him an icon and a One-Man Mount Puckmore if that was possible.

It also makes his departure all the more painful.

Former Head Coach/GM Bob Gainey

Like Modano, he brought plenty of success from his time in Minnesota, and expanded upon that in Dallas. He also helped sell the game (and teach the game) in his own special way. Gainey was a product of the Montreal System, and he built the Stars in his image: as a defensively-responsible, tough-to-play against, do-it-the-right-way organization.

Gainey swung what can only be called tremendous steals in trading for Sergei Zubov (for Kevin Hatcher) Darryl Sydor (for Shane Churla and Doug Zm0lek), Guy Carbonneau (for Neal Broten) and Mike Keane and Brian Skrudland (for Todd Harvey and Bob Errey). He also had the guts to trade a very young Jarome Iginla for Joe Nieuwendyk.

But just as important, Gainey had the strength to stand up to a very veteran team and demand that they toe the line for Ken Hitchcock. While he left in 2002, the truth is, Gainey vision defined the organization for the first 15 years in Dallas.

D Sergei Zubov

It is only his absence that the Stars see just how lucky they were to have Sergei Zubov for 12 seasons. All he did was quietly log 25 minutes a game for 839 games and toss in some dynamic playoff performances in 114 post season contests. He made everyone around him a better player, and he made the Stars stifling defensive system bearable for players like Mike Modano and Brett Hull.

Zubov was so valued, so intelligent and so good that he was the only person former defensive assisted Rick Wilson trusted to freelance. He led a power play that was ranked in the top 8 in the league five times in a six year span and he was a plus 107 in his career with the Stars.

His trade from Pittsburgh for Kevin Hatcher in 1996 might be one of the lopsided trades in recent NHL History.

RW Jere Lehtinen

This was probably the toughest choice. You could have put Broten in here, or Derian Hatcher or Ken Hitchcock or even Ed Belfour. But Lehtinen has been so quietly consistent for his entire career that he deserves a spot.

Lehtinen has played 875 games in 14 injury plagued seasons. In that span, he has won three Selke Trophies as best defensive forward in the league and also has led the Stars in goal scoring in three different occasions. He is a plus 176 for his career.

Lehtinen has worn down over the years and has played in 48, 48 and 58 games in his last three seasons. He is contemplating retirement, and at this stage, I think he will probably hang up the skates. But has also defined an organizations defensive play for more then a decade, and he established a work ethic in the training room that rubbed off his teammates.

He's not a sexy pick, but he has earned his spot on the Mount Puckmore.

Just missed the Cut

Derian Hatcher: This is the one guy I would have really liked to get in. Hatcher has his critics, and even more Stars fans didn't always appreciate his slow footed style of play, but I loved the big guy. He led on the ice, he led in the locker room and he followed nicely in the footsteps of Mark Tinordi.

Many Stars Insiders believe that the team took a huge step forward when Hatcher's hit broke Jeremy Roenick's jaw in 1999 as an answer to a skirmish that Stars and Coyotes had in a previous game. It sent the message not only to the league, but to his teammates, that it was time to get serious. His 2002-03 season (When he was a 2nd Team All-Star and a Norris Trophy Finalist) showed how complete a player he could be.

Ken Hitchcock: As much as anyone, Hitchcock was aggressive in spreading the word of hockey in Texas. He loved the fans, he drew in the media, and he simply made the game fun. He's a great coach, but an even better salesman.

Ed Belfour: He played just five seasons for the Stars, but he is second all time in franchise history in career regular season victories (160-95-44) and holds pretty much every playoff goaltending record the franchise, going 44-29 in the post-season. It's not only he could have realistically been the Conn Smythe Trophy Winner in both 1999 and 2000, it's that he went head-to-head with Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy (Twice) and Dominik Hasek, and was the better goaile. That was some high drama.

Neal Broten: He sort of fell between the cracks, but Broten made a lot more to Minnesota then he did with Dallas. Still, he was a very popular player in the first two seasons, and the trade that sent him to New Jersey in 1995 (Where he won a Stanley Cup) was maybe the first time Stars Fans started to really get serious about hockey talk.

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