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Bruce’s Brainstorming: Bob Gainey’s Quiet Greatness and Random Thoughts

His stoic exterior masked his burning desire to win. But Bob Gainey’s greatness ushered in the most successful era in Stars history

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If the Hockey World had a one-word summary to describe Bob Gainey, in bold type, that word would be RESPECT

Before Gainey even stepped one foot in Texas, he had already been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. On the ice, his resume was impeccable with five Stanley Cups, four Frank Selke Awards, four-time All-Star, and one Conn Smythe Trophy. 

The Montreal Canadiens dynasty featured high-flying legends such as Yvan Cournoyer, Guy LaFleur and Larry Robinson. Playing for the winningest franchise in NHL history, Gainey was the glue that held the team together defensively. He knew what needed to be done to help the team win and Gainey played that role to perfection. 

Being a championship player and being a Stanley Cup winning General Manager are two very different things. Gainey moved with the team to Dallas from Minnesota as Head Coach and General Manager in 1993. He relinquished the job of coach in 1996 to focus on GM duties and the franchise reached heights not seen before or since. In case you needed a reminder:

  • One Stanley Cup Championship
  • Two President’s Trophies (Best regular season record in NHL)
  • Two Conference Championships, five Division Titles and seven Playoff appearances
  • Pulled off trades for Joe Nieuwendyk and Sergei Zubov
  • Signed Free Agents Ed Belfour and Brett Hull
  • Harkening back to his Montreal days and knowing chemistry creates championships, Gainey made deals for veteran leaders Guy Charbonneau, Mike Keane and Brian Skrudland.

Gainey endured unfathomable tragedy and yet, has found a way to go forward. His stoic, business-like personality hasn’t captured the public imagination, but the end-results certainly did. It would seem a native of Peterborough, Ontario would be the least likely candidate to architect one of the greatest eras in Dallas sports history. Bob Gainey made it happen and his induction into the Dallas Stars Hall of Fame was a slam dunk. No one in the Builders category was more deserving.

As I try to figure out if I can pull off the Bolo Tie bought for tonight’s ceremony. Let’s have some random thoughts.

  • During the 1995 lockout Bob Gainey played Men’s League hockey. One game, I went in the corner and tried to tie him up. Gainey let me know with a small elbow jab that he could break three of my ribs if I ever tried that maneuver again. I’d like to take this moment to say, “Thank You Bob, much appreciated.”
  • The Hall of Fame selection gets much more difficult next year. It’s the 25th anniversary of the Stars Stanley Cup title, but only two inductees are allowed. In the Players category, there will be solid debates on whether Hull, Belfour, Nieuwendyk or someone more recent like Turco or Morrow should go in the Hall. On the Builders side, it would seem former President Jim Lites or former Head Coach Ken Hitchcock are the front runners. This is going to be interesting.
  • The level of concern on the injury to Jake Oettinger is high, no matter what the prognosis may be. The Stars are being ultra-cautious with Miro Heiskanen’s return to play. Expect the same for Jake, who may be the only player who can’t be replaced in any way, shape or form for the long term.
  • Wyatt Johnston played his 9th NHL game on Saturday and now it’s decision time. Does the 19-year-old remain in the NHL, or does he go back to the OHL? Dallas Stars Head Coach Pete DeBoer has made his feelings perfectly clear.

Friday: “Jim Nill makes the final decision, but he knows where my vote is for that.”

Saturday: “I might hide him in my trunk so Jim can’t find him.”

It would be a major shock if the coach does not get his wish and Johnston remains an NHL player for good. 

  • Speaking of teenagers who are really good at hockey… Logan Stankoven has been doing to the WHL what Godzilla did to Tokyo. In just eight games since his return to Kamloops, the Stars prospect has vaulted to second in the league in goals with 10 and fifth in overall points with 19.
  • As a big fan of Looney Tunes cartoons, I believe Ty Dellandrea and the Tazmanian Devil are kindred spirits. They are both constantly in motion, wreak havoc, don’t worry about what others think (ask the NY Rangers) and deep down aren’t bad guys. One major difference— Dellandrea has a much stronger vocabulary.
  • One final thought as this is the last Random Thought before Halloween. There is nothing fun about “Fun-Sized” candy. It’s small, sometimes ridiculously small. Some marketing genius coined the phrase “Fun-Sized” because “puny” just doesn’t sell. Getting a full-sized Milky Way—that’s fun. Getting a “Fun-Sized” portion is…meh. 
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