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.
So as I looked over all the players who wore number 27, it struck me that there really was no one that stood out from the rest of the field. Two players in particular caught my eye - one for his brief stay with fairly decent offensive numbers and the other for his fisticuffs skills. In the end I couldn't pick between either guy, so I decided to go with both!
#27 - Brian MacLellan
The gifted left winger had already spent four seasons in the NHL - mostly with the Los Angeles Kings and very briefly with the New York Rangers before being traded to the North Stars before the start of the 1986 / 87 season. Despite having size at 6 foot 3 and 220 pounds, Brian was more of a finesse player and did lack a little bit in the overall defensive part of his game. But his offensive skills - both even strength and on the power play - were what made MacLellan a valuable part of the team.
He instantly fit in with Minnesota as he racked up a career high in goals with 32. His 63 points that season was good for second on the team behind Dino Cicerelli. The next season his goal scoring totals dropped off a bit as he finished with 16 on the season which wasn't too bad considering he was used mostly as a 2nd line - and some times 3rd line - winger. Just like his first season in Minnesota, nearly half his goals came on the power play (13 in 87 / 97 and 7 in 87 / 88) and those two seasons he also showed he had a knack for scoring in the clutch with 9 game winning goals.
He was again having a solid season in 88 / 89 even if the team itself was hitting rock bottom standings wise. He amassed 16 goals and 39 points in 60 games played before being traded that season at the deadline to the Calgary Flames to help with their Stanley Cup push and ended up winning a ring with them.
Brian never saw the playoffs in his time with the North Stars, but he did finish his stint in Minnesota with 66 goals and 86 assists ( 152 points total) in 211 games played with the club. Ironically when he was traded to Calgary one of the players the North Stars got in return also wore #27 and became a solid part of that team's history (not to mention the second choice of our pick at number 27.)
#27 - Shane Churla
Unless you've just recently become a Stars fan, then you are well aware of who rugged right winger Shane Churla is and you know that while his offensive numbers with the Stars aren't that great, his penalty minute numbers are somewhat eye-popping and for the longest time he was the team's go-to enforcer. The Red Wingshad Bob Probert, the Devils had Mike Peluso, the Oilershad Marty McSorley, the Leafs had Tie Domi and the Stars had Shane Churla.
Churla played for the Stars for eight seasons, starting in Minnesota with the end of the 88 / 89 season and playing with the team through the move into Dallas before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1996 as part of a trade that brought Darryl Sydor to the Stars.
Of course he wasn't known for his goal scoring exploits - his highest total was 6 during the 93 / 94 season, his penalty minute totals were mind boggling. 1,883 minutes in 366 games played with the Stars franchise. (That's a five minute major per game average folks!) He also was a key member of the North Stars run to the Cup in 1991 playing a fierce checking role for the team.
To finish up today, it's important to note that Chrula was one of the top heavyweights of his time and could go toe to toe with anyone on the ice - including Bob Probert, so here are a couple of clips for your Friday viewing pleasure...
And he of course continued to be a valuable enforcer and fan favorite as the team moved to Dallas...