Throughout the year, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel the National Hockey League (NHL), discovering the best and worst each team has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also feature a drink based off the franchise. Today, we travel to Texas, where everything’s bigger, including the Dallas Stars:
Establishment Story: Dallas received an NHL team when the Minnesota Stars relocated there in 1993. The franchise kept the Stars nickname, as it seemed to fit with Texas (Lone Star State), just as much as it did with Minnesota, which was originally named the North Stars. Minnesota joined the NHL for the 1967 expansion, which doubled the league from six to 12 teams. In 1978, the North Stars and the Cleveland Barons (previously the California Golden Seals) merged, remaining in Minnesota.
Stanley Cups: Dallas has a lone Stanley Cup to its name, winning the big one in 1999, defeating the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately, the victory is largely remembered for its controversial ending (more on that later). The Stars have appeared in four other Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the New York Islanders in 1981, Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991, New Jersey Devils in 2000 and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020.
Celebrity Fan: Actress/singer/model/reality TV personality Willa Ford took her fandom of the Stars to new heights when she married team legend Mike Modano in 2007. The couple were together for five years, before announcing their amicable split. While a couple, Ford and Modano were featured in an episode of MTV Cribs. Ford also wrote a blog for ESPN during the 2007 playoffs.
Super Fan: Two supporters, for very different reasons, have gained the attention of Stars fans and media over the last couple years. First, um… curvy model (yeah, let’s go with that) Natalie Gauvreau gained viral popularity when she was spotted sitting behind the Dallas bench during the 2022 playoffs. On the other end of the spectrum, nine-year-old Max Hinojosa, who is unable to play hockey due to his battle with Myelomonocitic Leukemia, was signed to a two-day contract by the team.
Mascot: Victor E. Green is an out-of-this-world supporter of the Stars, with hockey stick antennas. The alien, from a galaxy far, far away, is named after the Dallas jersey colour of victory green. Victor is the first mascot in franchise history, debuting for the 2014-15 season. His favourite movies include E.T., Monsters Inc. and Wall-E, films I assume he watches with his documented roommate the Zamboni.
Tradition: Many of the Stars rituals are music-based. During the singing of the American national anthem, anytime the word ‘stars’ comes up, Dallas fans loudly shout the word. Next, the team takes the ice at the start of each game to Puck Off (aka Dallas Stars Fight Song) by Texas metal band Pantera. Finally, the club’s victory song is The House is Rockin’ by Texas musicians Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
Appearances in Media: With The Mighty Ducks being set in Minnesota, it made sense for some North Stars players to make cameo appearances in the film. Basil McRae and Mike Modano were selected to chat with the rag tag group of kids and coach Gordon Bombay, following their watching of a Minnesota practice. McRae and Modano were credited as North Star Player #1 and North Star Player #2, respectively.
Events/Scandals: In 1990, Minnesota owners George and Gordon Gund wished to relocate the franchise to the San Francisco Bay Area. This was denied by the NHL, with an expansion team offered to the Gunds instead. The result was a rare dispersal draft, with players being divided between the new San Jose Sharks and the North Stars, followed by an expansion draft with both clubs participating. Famously, Minnesota used their final selection on NHL legend Guy Lafleur, who had already decided to retire.
Rivalry: While the franchise was still located in Minnesota, the Stars had a long-standing feud with the Chicago Blackhawks. Another rival of the Stars is the St. Louis Blues. Both teams joined the NHL as part of the 1967 expansion and have shared the same division for much of their existences. The two clubs have met in the playoffs 14 times.
Tragedy: Tragedy struck early for the Minnesota/Dallas franchise. In the team’s first year of operating, center Bill Masterton was involved in a collision, falling backwards and hitting his head on the ice. He died two days later from a severe brain injury. Masterton is the only player in NHL history to die from injuries suffered in a game. The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL player who best displays perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport.
Player Nicknames: When Jamie Benn joined the Dallas Stars as a rookie for the 2009-10 campaign, he was given the nickname Chubbs by teammate James Neal. Instead of being upset about the comment on his playing weight, Benn embraced the moniker, even getting it written on his gloves, where his last name would typically go. Benn has played his entire 14-season career with Dallas, captaining the squad since 2013.
Line: A top line for the Stars during their time at the top of the league in the late 1990s and early 2000s was the trio of Mike Modano, Brett Hull, and Jere Lehtinen. Around the same time, The Grumpy Old Men unit of Kirk Muller, John MacLean and Mike Keane was very productive, despite being a combined 105 years old. More recently, the combo of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov enjoyed success together.
Captain: Hard-hitting defenseman Derian Hatcher was captain of the Stars when they won the 1999 Stanley Cup, becoming the first American-born captain to lead his team to the championship. Hatcher wore the ‘C’ for Dallas from 1995 to 2003. Including his time with the franchise while it was located in Minnesota, Hatcher played 12 seasons for the Stars and was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
Enforcer: The pair of Basil McRae and Shane Churla were forces to be reckoned with, playing four seasons together. Over McCrae’s five seasons with Minnesota, he took over the records for both most penalty minutes in a season (378) and total (1,567) for the franchise. Churla suited up for eight seasons with Minnesota/Dallas and now holds the franchise record for total penalty minutes at 1,883.
Family Values: The Stars have had a number of brother combos play for the team at the same time. Most notably, three members of the Broten family, Neal, Aaron and Paul, suited up for the Stars, with Neal playing with both brothers at different times. Also, Kevin and Derian Hatcher patrolled the Dallas blueline from 1994 to 1996 together and Jamie and Jordie Benn were teammates from 2012 to 2017.
Returning Players: Defenseman Darryl Sydor played three separate stints with the Stars. He first joined Dallas via trade in 1996, playing seven and a half seasons with the club. In the 2003 off-season, Sydor was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, before ending up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He rejoined Dallas for the 2006-07 campaign and again in 2008-09, sandwiching time with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Short Stint: Two trade deadline acquisitions should be noted here. Tim Thomas finished his career as a member of the Stars, playing eight games with the team in 2014, after coming over to serve as Dallas’ backup goalie. Another interesting tenure was that of Mats Zuccarello, who came to the Stars in 2019, but only played two games before being injured. He did return for 13 playoff contests, before signing with the Minnesota Wild in the off-season.
Undrafted: Dino Ciccarelli was signed by Minnesota in September 1979, joining the big league team in 1981. He would play the next eight seasons with the North Stars, filling nets with pucks, including two 50-goal seasons. Ciccarelli finished his tenure with Minnesota with 332 goals and 319 assists for 651 points, good for third all-time with the club. Ciccarelli was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
Trade: While they gave up a major asset in top prospect Jarome Iginla to get him, the acquisition of Joe Nieuwendyk would eventually lead to Stanley Cup glory for the Stars. Another deal that fortified the Stars lineup and reaped the rewards of a Stanley Cup, was bringing in defenseman Sergei Zubov, swapped for fellow rearguard Kevin Hatcher, prior to the 1996-97 season.
Signing: Looking to take the next step in their pursuit of a Stanley Cup, in back-to-back off-seasons, the Stars signed players that would be crucial to their 1999 championship. First, on July 2, 1997, Dallas signed goaltender Ed Belfour to a three-year deal worth reportedly $10 million per season. Exactly one year later, the Stars brought in Brett Hull on another three-year $17 million pact.
Draft Pick: The Stars have selected first overall on three occasions. Those choices could perhaps be called the great, the good and the ugly, with Mike Modano (1988), Bobby Smith (1978) and Brian Lawton (1983), receiving the rankings, respectively. Although too recent to fully assess, the 2017 draft for Dallas looks like a grand slam, with the team picking Miro Heiskanen (3rd overall), Jake Oettinger (26th overall) and Jason Robertson (39th overall).
Holdouts: Coming out of the 2012-13 NHL lockout, Jamie Benn remained unsigned by the Stars. He would miss the first four games of the shortened season, before signing a five-year, $26.25 million deal with Dallas. This wasn’t the first time the franchise struggled to sign a top star, as in 1991, Neal Broten began the season playing in Germany, before returning to Minnesota.
Buyouts: Valeri Nichushkin was drafted 10th overall in 2013 by the Stars and joined the team in his draft season. When his entry-level contract expired, a new deal failed to come together and Nichushkin played two seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. He finally returned to Dallas in 2018, but after failing to score a single goal in 57 games that season, the final year of his deal was bought out.
Unique Game: The Stars played the 2020 Winter Classic against the Nashville Predators at the infamous Cotton Bowl in Dallas. They won the game 4-2, in front of a crowd of 85,630 fans, the second highest attendance in NHL history. The Stars also participated in the 1977–78 tour of Czechoslovakia and Super Series; 1980 DN-Cup in Stockholm, Sweden; 1982-83 Super Series; 1985-86 Super Series, 1988-89 Super Series, 1989-90 Super Series; 1990 Friendship Tour across the USSR; and 1990-91 Super Series.
Goal: The only goal in franchise history that earned the Stars the coveted Stanley Cup has to take this category. Brett Hull’s third overtime tally in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Buffalo Sabres came with the controversy of Hull having his foot in the crease, which had previously caused goals to be disallowed. Nevertheless, the score counted and made Hull a hero.
Fight/Brawl: On February 26, 1981, Minnesota and the Boston Bruins combined for 406 penalty minutes, setting an NHL record at the time. The first fight occurred just seven seconds into the game and the first period took one hour and 37 minutes to complete, with an NHL record 67 penalties (341 penalty minutes) added to the scoresheet. Following the contest, Minnesota and Boston coaches Glen Sonmor and Gerry Cheevers almost fought, as well.
Injury: Stars forward Rich Peverley’s scary cardiac incident during a March 10, 2014 game still haunts players and fans who experienced it. Peverley, 31 years old at the time, collapsed on the bench due to a previously diagnosed irregular heartbeat. His heart rate actually flatlined for two minutes, before he was revived by medical officials. Despite a complete recovery, Peverley never played another NHL game, moving into other roles with the organization.
Penalty: During a January 6, 1988 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, North Stars forward Dino Ciccarelli attacked Maple Leafs rookie Luke Richardson with his stick. Ciccarelli was ejected from the game and suspended by the NHL for 10 days. His punishment didn’t stop there, though, as Ciccarelli was convicted of assault by a Toronto court and sentenced to one day in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Wildest Story: Sean Avery was one of the most controversial players in NHL history, bringing trouble with him wherever he went. That didn’t stop the Stars from signing him to a four-year, $15.5 million contract in 2008, although the experiment only lasted 23 games, before Avery was sent packing. The issue: Avery made derogatory remarks about other players dating his ex-girlfriends, earning him a six-game suspension and enrollment in a counselling program.
Blooper: During a January 4, 2007 game against the Edmonton Oilers, the Stars were up 5-4 with seconds remaining, when Patrik Stefan moved in on an empty net to seal the victory. Except Stefan lost control of the puck and the Oilers took it the other way, scoring to tie the contest. TV analyst Ray Ferraro said the incident was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever seen and that Stefan should be embarrassed.
Miscellaneous: One of the most curious trades in NHL history occurred on November 22, 1990, when Minnesota goalie Kari Takko was swapped with defenseman Bruce Bell of the Edmonton Oilers. The Takko Bell Trade, as it was dubbed, a play on the Taco Bell fast food chain, resulted in 11 games played by Takko with Edmonton and Bell playing out the rest of his career in the minor leagues and Europe.
Dallas Stars: Dallas Stars Shot
- 0.75 oz Melon Liqueur
- 0.75 oz Goldschlager
You can substitute Green Crème de Menthe for the Melon Liqueur, if you desire. I like how the flakes in Goldschlager are supposed to resemble stars floating amongst the green liquor… until they all settle at the bottom, at least. I put the shooter in my cowboy boot shot glass to complete the presentation!