Being on the Dallas Stars Hall of Fame Selection Committee is sort of like being in Fight Club from the 1999 movie. Rule #1 of Fight Club is “You don’t talk about Fight Club.” Rule #1 of HOF is “You Don’t Discuss What Goes on During the Selection Process.” I have no intention of running afoul of Tyler Durden or Brad Alberts, but do want to talk about how the committee got it right in selecting the player to be honored as the first inductee.
Next Sunday night, Derian Hatcher finally gets his due recognition for what he meant to the greatest teams in franchise history. We have seen the jerseys of Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov immortalized in the AAC rafters. Eddie Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk have been enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame with the 1999 Stanley Cup as part of their resumes. While those players had gaudy statistics to show for their on-ice performance, Hatcher's greatness is measured by different standards. These are some of the reasons Hatcher received my vote:
Hatcher was a physical presence that intimidated the opponents and kept his goalie safe. In the days of the warrior mentality of the NHL, Hatcher was the most feared Stars player by opponents. He could hit, fight and most of all, he could play lockdown defense when games mattered the most.
Hatcher was the youngest player to be named captain in Dallas Stars history. Hatcher was the longest serving captain in team history until Jamie Benn broke that record last year.
Hatcher was the first American born captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup Championship.
During the 1999 run to the Cup, Hatcher was second on the team in Time-On-Ice per game averaging 29:06.
Hatcher broke Jeremy Roenick’s jaw in retaliation for a cheap shot on Mike Modano—a moment that set the tone for the Stars' run to the title. (In the eyes of some Dallas fans, that alone should have gotten Hatcher an immediate pass to the NHL Hall of Fame).
Hatcher was not the most vocal player, letting his actions speak louder than words. His acceptance speech will probably be short but memorable. The Stars Hall of Fame is a new concept and long overdue, just like the recognition of the first player to be enshrined in it.
It’s been a long week, lots of random thoughts have entered my brain, I hope you enjoy them:
- Can’t wait to see all the Stars greats converge in town next week for the induction ceremony. With the event taking place at Gilley’s and Midland headlining, it should be an amazing night. My wife has informed me that in order to fit in, I should wear boots or a bolo tie or combination of both. Being from New York, I have never owned any of these items. Please send thoughts and prayers my way.
- Tickets are still available at dallasstars.com/gala
- It wasn’t that long ago some hockey experts were claiming the Stars overpaid to sign Joe Pavelski. There were plenty of “I told you so” going around when Pavleski only scored 14 goals in his first 67 regular season games with Dallas. Since that time, Captain America has scored 139 points in 143 regular season games—the Stars leading scorer. With his Hat Trick last night, Pavelski became the oldest player in franchise history to record three goals in a game. Still haven’t seen any apologies, but there still is plenty of time for the “experts” to admit they were wrong.
- Wyatt Johnston has played 5 NHL games and will be at 9 if he stays in the lineup through next Saturday’s game against the New York Rangers. Whether or not to keep Johnston for the rest of the season is an incredibly tough decision. Between regular season and playoffs, Johnston played 93 games for Windsor in the OHL last season. But can he hold up physically for another 73 games at the NHL level? The team is winning, and the rookie is fitting in nicely, making the call even more difficult. There is little Johnston can learn from another year in Windsor and he is contributing to the Stars red-hot start. I think keeping him here is the right move.
- With a 4-0-1 start, Dallas is undefeated through the first five games of a season for the first time since the 2006-7 season. That team finished with 107 points, thanks in a large part to the stellar goaltending of Marty Turco who ended the year with a 2.23 GAA.
- The worst question a parent can hear two hours before the Homecoming dance after spending money on clothes, shoes and dinner reservations: “Do I need a ticket to attend?” Yes, I am that parent.
- Nils Lundkvist will be the focus of attention when the Rangers come to town next Saturday. His breakup with the Broadway Blueshirts was less than amicable. Should be some interesting reading in the tabloids.
- Finally, under Jim Nill the Stars have had a policy of whomever was playing best in the AHL would be the first player called up from Cedar Park when needed. Riley Damiani seemed to be in that position as he was the last forward sent down before the season began. Enter Matej Blumel into the chat. The 22-year-old free agent signee from Czechia is tied with an AHL-best 5 goals to begin the season. He is also tied for third in overall scoring with 7 points (5-2-7). Blumel was the Stars best forward at the Traverse City tournament and continued his hot play throughout Training Camp. At the moment, Dallas doesn’t have any need for call-ups, but the quality of depth at forward is quite the security blanket.