by Antares Leask
If you don’t hold long-term grudges, you may have forgotten that Jason Arnott scored the game-winning goal in double overtime of Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals to beat the Stars in 2000. Then, to add insult to injury, in 2002 we traded Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner for him.
I used to go to the old Valley Ranch practice facility and stand in the parking lot to get players’ autographs. If you remember the building, players got into their cars and had two exits to use. They could choose which side to leave—and often chose the one where the fans weren’t waiting, and they could choose whether or not to stop their cars at all to sign autographs. Joe Nieuwendyk always stopped to sign autographs—even when he was injured and signed them with an ice pack strapped to his hand. We loved Joe, and we loved Jamie.
And we HATED Jason Arnott. I went to that parking lot the day after the trade. It was spring break and we all huddled around talking in low, angry voices about our disappointment in the front office’s decision.
Arnott walked out of the players’ door.
He looked at us.
We glared at him.
Some of us (okay, maybe just me) literally growled at him.
Then, before even getting in his car, he walked over and shook every person’s hand and signed an autograph for each of us. Whether we wanted it or not.
That’s the image I will always have of Jason Arnott, and that was the day I became a fan.
Happy retirement, #44.
by Matt Day
My cousin and I began discussing ramping up our attendance at Stars games. More games meant the need to expand my Stars wardrobe. I only had a blank white home jersey and was looking at buying a road black. The black jerseys did not look as good blank, as the white so the question came up of who would I get put on mine. I had already seen a few friends of mine get burned by trades just after having purchased that players jersey. I decided to have my name put on it. After all the Stars couldn’t trade me. I picked the number 25 because it was my favorite number that wasn’t taken. I ordered it by mail through a holiday promotion the Stars were having. It was due to arrive in the middle of December.
December 15, 1995 a package was dropped off at my neighbor’s house. I raced over and verified it was indeed my new game day sweater. I was so excited and could not wait to wear it to Reunion Arena. December 19, 1995 the Stars acquired Joe Nieuwendyk from the Calgary Flames. My cousin Bryan was the first to call me and give me the news. I said, “Don’t tell me.”, He said, “Yep.” My cousin and I have that ability to have full conversations in a handful of words. In that one word I knew Joe had taken my number. I laughed, moved on, and thought that the story would end there.
The next season was our first as season ticket holders and we decided to try going to a few of the events they held during the season. The first was Skate with the Stars, which was a chance to meet the players and get a few autographs. As we approached Nieuwendyk’s table he noticed my jersey and asked, “You know that’s my number, right?” I was a shy guy and normally would have just jokingly apologized and moved on. For some reason this time I did not back down. I looked Joe in the eye and replied, “It’s my number, I had it first. I’ll give it to you they day you win the Cup with the Stars. Then I will retire this jersey and never wear it again.”
June 19-20, 1999 Joe Nieuwendyk and the Stars live up their end of the bargain by defeating the Buffalo Sabres in the third overtime of game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. Adding an exclamation point to our deal, Joe Nieuwendyk took the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs most valuable player. After celebrating the Cup victory I honored my end and removed my jersey for the last time. It has since been framed and hung on my wall.
by Sami Hage
Since we won’t be seeing anymore hockey this month or next, let’s reminisce (again) about some of our favorite post season times here in Dallas while we trust our fearless leaders to take us into the playoffs next year. It was hard to find pre-1999 clips so this is what I can show you in words and pictures. Here are just three of my more memorable moments (besides the given game six in Buffalo in 1999), let’s hear some of yours too!
-Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals in 1999. The Stars swept the Edmonton Oilers that night in one of the longest games this franchise has ever seen (longest at that time for both teams). Despite Dallas winning all four games in this series, I remember it being a tough, grueling one. This overtime winner deflected off of Joe Niewendyk to get past Tommy Salo. 56 shots….56. Insane. Here’s the post game from that night which includes an analysis by the young Ralph and Razor duo.
-The next year, the Stars made a huge run to the finals and faced the red hot New Jersey Devils. The series was not ideal for Dallas from the beginning. With New Jersey up 3-1, the Stars were facing elimination in New Jersey. Mike Modano stepped up and ended it to extend the series to a game six (lost in overtime) as we endured another late night of cut-throat hockey. Here’s a recap.
-This last one brings us back to our last taste of playoff hockey in recent memory. I think you might know where I am going with this one. Facing and defeating division opponent San Jose in the Western Conference Semi-Finals was not expected of the fifth seed Stars in 2008, but with an early series lead, the Stars had a few opportunities to close out the Sharks. It was yet another very long night for many of us. Many things stand out in this game. The goal tending was elite, the excitement was end to end, even in overtime. We saw our former captain in Brendan Morrow at his best. His mammoth hit on Michalek at the end of regulation set the tone for the overtime periods, and not to mention his clutch game winning goal in the fourth overtime. I would just show that goal, but the clinic put on by Turco and Nabokov needs to be done justice as well. The energy was surreal in the AAC. See it for yourself below.
What playoff moments stand out for you in the past 20 years of Stars’ hockey?
by Matt Day
This is Part 1 of a three part series about the 1998 Playoffs and “The Best Game I Ever Missed”. Watch for Parts 2 to come on April 9th and 12th, 2013.
1998 Stanley Cup Playoffs – Photo Credit SportsLogos.net
After finishing second in points in 1997 the Stars were upset in the first round by the Edmonton Oilers. Determined not to let this happen again the Stars made big news signing free agent Ed Belfour in the offseason. Struggling early in the season with his new defense Belfour finally got into the groove and lead the team to its first President’s trophy and the team’s best record ever, to that point. The playoffs were here again and first on his plate was Eddie’s last team, the San Jose Sharks.
The San Jose Sharks went all out at the trade deadline in 1997 to get Belfour from the Blackhawks in hopes they could work out a deal to resign him. It did not work out and this was their chance for payback with their new goaltender and playoff MVP from last season, Mike Vernon. The payback however did not involve the men between the pipes.
The last season had taught me that with all the excitement that went with playoff hockey also came moments of extreme bitterness. The previous year was my first as a season ticket holder and being upset in the first round had taught me such bitterness. I was 0-4 in playoff games because all four losses in that series were at home. I was eager to end that streak and to taste playoff victory for the first time.
I did not take long for this series to get ugly. Bryan Marchment of the Sharks, who was known for his cheap shots on the other teams key players went to work and may have prevented the Stars from skating the Cup a year early. Marchment took out Joe Nieuwendyk’s right knee and forcing him out of the game. This was only game one of the playoffs and even though the Stars dominated the game in a 4-1 win the victory was bitter-sweet. All my thoughts were on if and when Joe could return. Nieuwendyk was the Stars leading scorer for the season and a huge loss for the team. Our worries were confirmed when we learned that he had suffered a torn ACL and would be out for the season. The Stars went on to dominate game two as well and you couldn’t help but think this series was over. Someone forgot to inform the Sharks of that though as they took the next two in San Jose to tie the series.
Game five in Dallas again was a nail bitter as the Stars escaped a close one with a 3-2 win. I was living and dying with every shift. Every goal for or against was leaving me on emotional highs or lows. Game six was in San Jose and we really needed to end it there because I was not ready for another game seven. It was another close one and when San Jose forced overtime I could only think, “Oh no, here we go again!” I would have been devastated had the Sharks scored and sent us to another game 7 in Dallas. Another chance to watch my team exit early in round one again would have been too much to bear. Trade deadline acquisition Mike Keane eliminated my fears and the Sharks with his overtime game winner. Injuries to Nieuwendyk and Jere Lehtinen crippled the Stars, but it did not keep them from winning the series in 6.
The Sharks provided a few firsts for me in hockey. My first ever Stars game I went to was a victory against the Sharks in 1995. My first playoff win and series win as a season ticket holder came this series as well as one more first. A tradition was born that series. To celebrate the playoffs my cousin and I wanted to try something different. We noticed a booth outside Reunion Arena that offered free face painting and so both of us had our faces painted all three games of the series. It was fun and we didn’t really think anything of it until a fellow season ticket holder informed us of an interesting coincidence. Having already painted up our superstitious friend had thanked us and pointed out that our personal records were 0-4 without face paint and the Stars were 3-0 when we dawned the war paint. Round one was tough but over it was now time for some revenge in round two.