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ED BELFOUR NIGHT IN DALLAS

Posted By Travis Currie On Feb 4 2012 @ 11:13 am In Dallas Stars | No Comments

If ever there was a goaltender that personified the stereotype that goalies are a different breed:moody, superstitious, and routine oriented, it would be Ed Belfour. His quirks, combined with his undying work ethic and passion to succeed, made him a Stanley Cup champion and one of the game’s greats – and recently a member of the Hockey Hall Of Fame.

While other goaltenders his age were being drafted in to the NHL and spending their days in the CHL, the un-drafted Belfour spent his junior years with the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. At the age of 21, he moved on to the NCAA and lead the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux to a national championship. Finally, someone would take notice and the Chicago Blackhawks signed the free agent Belfour in 1987, though he spent the better part of the next two seasons playing with their minor league affiliate Saginaw Hawks of the IHL.

The Eagle would take the league by storm with the Blackhawks in 1990. He captured the Calder, the Vezina, and was named to the NHL’s 1st All-Star Team. His Hawks were ousted by the Minnesota North Stars in round one that year, but Eddie would take his Hawks all the way to the Cup Final the following year. They lost four straight to Mario Lemieux and the Penguins in a series that saw every game except one won by just one goal. Regular season success was no problem for Belfour, but playoff success seemed to be hard to come by and naturally questions began to arise. Could he win the big one ?

Despite his successes and accolades league wide, Belfour fell out of favor with the Hawks – as they did with him too during the 1996-97 season, and he would be traded to the San Jose Sharks. His play seemed to be on a down slide and he would become a UFA in the summer. Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars seemed to be just one or two pieces away from greatness. Andy Moog had been the Stars goaltender since the move to Dallas and it seemed an improvement at the position was a dire need. Bob Gainey would take a chance on Ed Belfour and he would not be disappointed. Belfour took the Stars from good to great, helping them capture their first ever President’s Trophy in 1998. With a 1.88 GAA and a .916 SV%, his numbers were incredible and the improvement in goal was obvious. His popularity in Dallas was through the roof and Reunion Arena was filled with chants of ” Eddie ! Eddie ! Eddie ! ” several times per game.

Belfour was huge for the Stars on the run to their first Stanley Cup as he bettered Grant Fuhr, Patrick Roy, and Dominek Hasek on the way. He posted a 1.67 GAA and a .935 SV% in the playoffs that year and stopped 53 of 54 shots in nearly six periods of play to outlast Hasek in that final game. If that doesn’t prove he could win the big one, I don’t know what does. Though Nieuwendyk won the Conn Smythe, that could have just as easily have been The Eagle receiving the honor.

He would come up big for the Stars in the 2000 playoffs as well, of course falling just short. Just like Nieuwendyk, his final season with the Stars would be 2001-02. Belfour would continue to play another four seasons and into his 40′s where he would remain among the league’s best.

Your goaltender is your final line of defense, and Belfour brought a nearly impenetrable  one to the Stars. His will to win, his fiery competitiveness, and his focus made him one of the best goalies ever to play the game.

The Stars will honor him in a pregame ceremony tonight for his recent induction in to hockey’s holy land – the Hall Of Fame.

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