The Dallas Stars will honor one of the classiest players ever to play the game tonight for his recent induction in to the Hockey Hall Of Fame. The ceremony will be held before the Stars and Devils, two of Joe’s three championship teams, do battle at the AAC.
Joe Nieuwendyk started his career off with a bang, winning the Calder trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year and becoming just the second rookie in NHL history ( the first being Mike Bossy ) to net 50 or more goals with his 51 for the Calgary Flames back in 1987-88. He matched that total exactly in his sophomore campaign the following year, and fired 45 in each of the following two seasons after that. He established himself as a big time goal scorer, especially in the playoffs as he scored ten times for the Flames on the way to the franchises first ever Stanley Cup in 1989.
The Cornell University product would spend his first eight full NHL seasons with the Flames before his services would be needed to help another franchise to it’s first ever Stanley Cup. In 1995, Bob Gainey would sacrifice a top tier prospect named Jarome Iginla in order to bring in the veteran Nieuwendyk with a vision that would soon become reality. Gainey felt that having a second line center with scoring ability would be able to take some of the pressure and focus away from Mike Modano and also provide much needed depth at the position. It was a major turning point that would pay huge dividends in the franchise’s fortunes.
With other pieces added over the next year or so, the Stars would go from pretenders to contenders. They would capture their first ever President’s Trophy in 1998 and had their sights on a championship. Unfortunately, Nieuwendyk would go down in round one vs the Sharks on a collison in to the boards with notorious knee assassin Bryan Marchment and miss the rest of the playoffs. The Stars would eventually fall in the conference final to the Detroit Red Wings but one can’t help but wonder what might have been had Joe been in the lineup.
The following season, there would be no such misfortunes as the Dallas Stars would go on to win their first ever Stanley Cup, with Joe earning the Conn Smythe trophy as he fired six game winning goals for the Stars that spring. It was his second championship and he once again proved to be a big time performer in the clutch.
His tenure with the Stars would end in 2002 as he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils along with teammate Jamie Langenbrunner. He would go on to win the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003, which would be his third championship with three different teams in three different decades.
Add to his resume an Olympic gold with Canada in 2002, and you have is a true winner. Some players win, some are winners. Joe wasn’t just one of those players that had fortune fortune fall upon him, he was one of those players where winning was far more than a coincidence and he won for a reason. His leadership and on ice performance when it counted were his assets and were major contributors to any team he was a part of.
Though knee problems would hamper him throughout a large part of his career, he still managed to play 1,415 regular season and playoff games combined over his 20 year career, totalling 630 goals ( 107 of them game winners ) to go along with his numerous championships along the way. He’s one of the true winners of the game and one of the classiest players to hit the ice.
With that resume and that will to win, the Stars are in good hands.
About the Author
Written by Travis Currie
Im your typical sports fan. Just a little more crazy about it. I live and die for my teams and I drive my girlfriend nuts. I consider myself the world's biggest Stars fan. Ive been a fan since I was a young kid going back to the mid 80's. Favourite Stars player of all-time is of course Mike Modano. Favourite non-Stars player of all-time is Peter Stastny. I love talking sports so please leave a reply to anything you agree or disagree with. If youd like to contact me my email is firstname.lastname@example.org