Every day leading up to training camp Defending Big D will count down the greatest players in franchise history (both Dallas and Minnesota), based on the sweater number they wore. Starting with the highest numbers, where most were only worn by one player, we'll finish up with what should be some great debates. Keep coming back every day for a look at who's the best in Stars history.
Still in the high numbers on our look back at the greatest Dallas Stars / Minnesota North Stars by sweater number, so no real debate on any of these players yet. Today we lead off with not only the greatest number 63 to wear a Stars jersey, but perhaps the greatest number 63 in NHL history!
#63 - Mike Ribeiro
When Mike came to the Stars days before the start of the 2006-07 season there were quite a few questions about what he could bring to the team and if his baggage as a somewhat malcontent in Montreal would travel with him to Dallas. As soon as he hit the ice for the Stars with his chosen sweater number another question popped up...
Turned out Ribs wanted a fresh start from his days as #71 in Montreal so a new jersey number was a given, but as a kid his favorite number was #9 which of course was taken on the team by some other long time veteran. In his early playing days as a junior he had also wore the numbers 3 and 6... Suddenly it became obvious math: 6+3=9 and thus 63 was the number of choice. The talent he's displayed with the Stars from the start has also put to rest any questions Stars fans had about him as he's led the Stars in scoring the last three seasons!
Turns out only 15 other players in the history of the NHL have wore 63 and of those players, Josef Vasicek of the then Carolina Hurricanes was the only one who comes close to matching his ability on the ice, and by that we mean he wasn't even close at all.
(After the jump, we take a look at a current Star that may soon be a former Star and we get our first North Star on the board!)
#56 - Sergei Zubov
We already know how much Zubie has meant to the Stars and already chronicled his possible departure this summer from the Stars, so lets focus on the number...
He actually wore #21 when he won the Cup with the New York Rangers and it was his number of choice when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995 but #21 is retired there so he settled on number 3. He then broke his finger two games in with the Pens, came back, broke another finger on the other hand and decided quickly that 3 wasn't for him. He decided to go with a number that had 6 in it and went with the highest number available to him - #56.
He was traded to Dallas that following summer and again with #21 taken he stuck with #56 and the rest as they say is history.
In a somewhat interesting twist, while the number has never been the most popular in NHL circles there is one other player of note who for a brief time wore #56 as well when he was with the Montreal Canadiens in 2001. That man is Stephane Robidas.
#55 - Brad Maxwell
While Dallas fans may be more familiar with the other two players who wore 55, Tyler Bouck and John Erskinefail to top the accomplishments of Brad Maxwell who was the North Stars 7thoverall pick in 1977 NHL draft and book ended his NHL career with two different stints in Minnesota - 1977 to 1984 and then in 1987 after a trade from the New York Rangers. In his first 8 seasons with the club he wore number 5, it's in that last stop as a North Star he wore #55 and by that time injuries had taken their toll and he was a shell of his former self. Still he's not exactly a lock at #5 and he was a great defenseman and deserves kudos for a solid NHL career, so we'll put him here.
One of the first skilled puck moving defensemen the NorthStars ever had, Brad piled up 82 goals, 221 assists in 471 games with the North Stars. He was also part of the NorthStars stunning 1981 run to the Stanley Cup final. He combined that skillful play with solid defensive work. He was named to the 1984 all-star game in what ended up being his best season as a pro with 19 goals and 54 assists. That season he also led the league in being on the ice for the most power play goals scored (72) underlining just how valuable a power play quarterback he was!
His career was hampered a lot by injuries and in a time where the likes of Paul Coffey on dominant Oilers teams captivated fans, Maxwell's play on some sub-par North Stars teams was often overlooked but make no mistake, he was one of the upper echelon defensemen of his time and had it not been for those injuries, he would get his just due as one of the best in his time.
Maxwell now is an assistant coach with the Guelph Storm of the OHL.