Now that I’ve spent the last two weeks bringing everyone down while discussing the most disappointing things that have happened in Dallas Stars history, I’m going to attempt to cheer you all up. Starting today, I will be on the other end of the spectrum as we forget the sad parts and focus on the best things in Stars history. Today we begin the series with the best transaction in Dallas Stars history: the Sergei Zubov trade.
After originally being drafted by the New York Rangers in 1990, Zubov spent three seasons on Broadway before getting traded to Pittsburgh in exchange for Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson. For whatever reason Zubov was not in the Pens long term plans, despite the fact that he played 64 games and registered 66 points during his first campaign with them. To be honest I don’t remember why the Penguins wouldn’t want him, but in June of 1996 they shipped him off to Dallas in exchange for also offensively minded defender Kevin Hatcher. At that point in his career Hatcher had scored 496 points over 806 games, compared to Zubov’s 222 points in 229 games. To be even more honest, I don’t really care why Pittsburgh didn’t want him; because Dallas did, they got him and it changed everything for the Stars.
Dallas now had one of those elite “franchise defensemen” that are so hard to come by and he would become one of the greatest players in Dallas history. Over the next 12 years, Zubov would do it all from the blue line, scoring 111 goals, 438 assists (third on Dallas’ all time leaderboard) and 549 points (sixth) for Dallas, while playing in 839 games (fourth). He would be the quarterback on the power play, he would play shorthanded. Ask any hockey coach at any level and you will hear about the importance of a good first pass out of your defensive zone, Zubov’s breakouts were tape to tape.
He was lauded for his offense, but defensively he was somehow underappreciated. 10 times during his stay in Dallas he was a Norris Trophy finalist, but everybody focused on his offense. He finished his Stars career with a career plus/minus of +103, behind only Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen. He never seemed to be skating hard, but he was very rarely out of position and when he got beat he seemed to catch up more often than not. He was a top pairing defender that could play in all situations, and was a key component of the Stars 1999 Stanley Cup run. The Stars missed the playoffs only twice during the Zubov era (once if you don’t count that last season where Zubov only played 10 games) and made it to at least the conference final four times.
On the other hand, Hatcher would only score 181 more points over five more seasons in the NHL. Stars fans that are still reeling from the James Neal trade should feel easier knowing that Dallas pulled off one of the most lopsided trades in league history in the Zubov for Hatcher trade. The Stars wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup without Zubov, nor would they have been one of the elite teams near the turn of the century. Considering what they got for what they gave up, the Sergei Zubov trade has to be the best trade in Dallas Stars history.
What do you think?
As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading and go Stars!
Tags: Dallas Stars