I once tried to draft Sergei Zubov three times in a pool. He’s retired. I may or may not have been under the influence as well but I digress. The point is, Sergei Zubov was a force to be reckoned with.
Zubov spent 16 years in the NHL with 12 in Dallas where his impact will be known forever. Growing up under the Iron Curtain of the USSR, Sergei turned to hockey for an immediate release. Accepting a spot on the Red Army’s stellar CSKA Moscow team, Zubov stayed with the team for 5 seasons. In the middle of his tenure in Russia, he was drafted in the fifth round by the New York Rangers in the 1990 entry draft.
Before hitting the stage in New York, Zubov travelled to Albertville, France in 1992 and won gold with the Russian Unified team. (non-Baltic former Soviet republics). Although he spent time in New York’s farm system, he ended up playing 49 games with the Rangers in his rookie season. He also set the stage for defensemen scoring 31 points, which back then was an above average feat. The 1993-94 was glorious for Zubov and the Rangers. He notched 19 points in the playoffs and along with, Alexander Karpotsev, Sergei Nemchinov and Alexei Kovalev, became the very first Russians to have their names engraved on Lord Stanley.
In 1995 Zubov was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in return for Petr Nedved, Ulf Samuelsson and Luc Robitaille. The stint didn’t last long as clashing with captain Mario Lemieux was too much for the Penguins brass to handle. That’s when he was sent to another team to make a lasting impression.
Zubov came to Dallas on June 22, 1996. The legacy he left in the Stars will not be forgotten anytime soon. He never did reach the scoring height he had with the Rangers but still proved he plays a solid game. Sergei is known more for his positioning and abilities in the corners rather then checking. He was a main stay on the penalty kill, always there to help out.
Although the 1998-99 season was foreshadowed with the retirement of Wayne Gretzky, Zubov was named Assistant Captain and helped the Stars on their way to their controversial Stanley Cup victory that ended in triple overtime. I think we all remember how that played out. (“Skate in the crease” for those marking at home. *cough*Brett Hull *cough*) That marked his second Stanley Cup in under 10 years.
His stats are impressive. Especially for a defensemen. Zubov had earned his spot in the NHL All-star game three times in 1998, 1999, and 2000. He had 11 consecutive years of 40+ point seasons. For the 2005-06 season, he notched a 71 point season earning him a Norris Trophy nomination. He is also one of two Russian/Soviet born defensemen to play in at least 1,000 NHL games.
In 2009, Zubov decided to leave the NHL to play one last year in his native Russia with SKA St. Petersburg. He left the NHL as the league’s all-time scoring leader for Russia-born defensemen. After notching 42 points in 53 games with St. Petersburg, a hip injury forced Zubov to retire earlier then expected. All in all, Sergei Zubov was an impressive and unique player that the hockey world was blessed to have. No doubt will his impact hold up for a long time to come.
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