Counting the Stars - Number 34

Every day this summer (well almost every day anyway...) Defending Big D will count down the greatest players in franchise history (both Dallas and Minnesota), based on the sweater number they wore. Keep coming back for a look at who's the best in Stars history. For a recap on the list so far, click here.

As I see it the battle for number 34 is a race between two players. Backup goalie Darcy Wakaluk and defenseman Ron Wilson (yes, that Ron Wilson!). While Wilson was a decent enough defenseman for the North Stars in three and a half seasons with them from 1985 to 1988, and while he did even have a very brief cup of coffee with the Dallas Black Hawks of the CHL in the late 70's, I can't ignore the fact that he is in fact Ron Wilson and has coached both the Ducks and Sharks at different times and I can't bring myself to hand kudos to a guy that has been a key figure in a pair of Stars rivalries since the Stars moved to Dallas.

Thus, we give the nod to the backup goalie...

#34 - Darcy Wakaluk

Darcy came to the North Stars in a early summer trade with the Buffalo Sabres - a team that had used him very sparingly over his first two NHL seasons - and was instantly made Jon Casey's backup goalie for the 1991-92 season. That backup role was one he filled over the next five seasons, following the team from Minnesota to Dallas. While his first two seasons in Minnesota were solid, it was his first season in Dallas that was the best of his career as he virtually split the starting duties with newly acquired goalie Andy Moog and posted a 18-9-6 record with a 2.64 goals against average (good for 6th in the league that year) and a .910 save persentage (good for 7th in the NHL as well as three shutouts.

He also helped lead Dallas to a stunning first round sweep of the St. Louis Blues as he was the winning goalie in every game of that series. He won a fifth game in the very next series against Vancouver, but the wheels quickly fell off for Darcy and the team as the Cinderella Canucks took the next four games after that.

The next two seasons following weren't quite as good to Darcy either as he struggled to regain his form in the playoffs. He played again in slightly less than half the team's games (15 to be exact) in the lockout shortened 1994-95 season and was hampered by nagging injuries the following year and struggled to a 9-16-5 record in 37 games played during the 95-96 season.

He then signed with the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 1996 in the hopes of rebounding as Nikolai Khabibulin's backup, but suffered a career ending knee injury that following season.

His final numbers with the Stars? 153 games played, a 54-64-17 record, 3.21 goals against average and 8 career shutouts.  Not to mention an amazing run as the Stars first starting playoff goalie that set the tone for Dallas fans for years to come.

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