Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk is a busy man these days. Between the NHL draft, the trade market, the ownership troubles, free agency coming up on Friday and being on the committee that revised the head shot rules for the general managers meetings he barely had time to even remember that he might be selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame Today.
"It kind of snuck up on me," Nieuwendyk told KTCK 1310 The Ticket just moments following the announcement. "You know how busy this time of year is for me with the draft and free agency."
Many felt Nieuwendyk a little snubbed last year when he didn't get in but the wait wasn't long. Meanwhile players like Adam Oates, Eric Lindros and Pavel Bure are discussed as those left in waiting. One man that was not left waiting was Joe's former teammate in Eddie Belfour, who was voted in during his first year of eligibility.
Eddie "the Eagle" Belfour, or if you prefer: "Crazy Eddie" (and we do) is third all-time in wins behind Roy and Brodeur. He won a Stanley Cup, two Vezinas, four Jennings trophies and the Calder trophy for rookie of the year. He was a no-brainer, and it's nice to see hockey put him in on the first try, unlike certain other sports who feel no one is worthy of "first ballot" status.
They say all goatlenders are a little crazy, but Kari Lehtonen makes for a stark contrast with Belfour. GM Joe was asked on the Bob and Dan show about Eddies quirks...
"They all have their own uniqueness, but Eddie took it to another level," Nieuwendyk said of Belfour. "He was very focused. He took up a lot of the trainers time. Game day was all about Eddie. [...] There were a lot of times the trainers were running around getting a special orange juice for him."
Many hockey fans remember Belfour for what he was drinking and he wasn't orange juice, but that's all just color added to the magnificent career of a fierce competitor who lived for big moments.
It's special for Stars fans to see Nieuwendyk and Belfour go in together. If Nieuwendyk had not won the Conn Smythe trophy in 1999, Ed Belfour would have been the guy that took it from him. They join Brett Hull from that cup run in the Hall and Mike Modano and perhaps Sergei Zubov will follow soon.
"The day of, of course you're anxious and you're nervous about watching but this is a thrill," said Nieuwendyk. "I don't know how to describe it at this point. It'll sink in more over the next few days."
We hope he doesn't have time in the next few days for it to sink in, because he's going to be so busy, not unlike he was during that hall of fame career, improving the Stars on the ice, even if it is in a different capacity.
Congratulations to two wonderful athletes in Ed Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk. Though they started and finished their careers elsewhere, their finest moments were in Dallas uniforms and they'll always be Stars to us.
Release from the Stars after the jump...
Frisco, Tex. -- Bill Hay, Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame's Board of Directors, Jim Gregory and Pat Quinn, Co-Chairmen of the Hockey Hall of Fame's Selection Committee, announced today that former Dallas Stars players Ed Belfour and Joe Nieuwendyk have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Player Category, along with Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe. The vote took place today at the annual meeting of the Selection Committee in Toronto.
"It is hard to put into words what this means to me," said Belfour. "I would like to thank all of my teammates and people along the way who helped me achieve my hockey dreams."
"I am humbled and honored to be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame," said Nieuwendyk. "This is a tremendous honor. I'd like to thank all of my former coaches, teammates and supporters over the years, especially my family. I wouldn't be here today without them. I'd also like to thank the fans - they have always been an important inspiration over the years. Every player does their best year after year and strives to play at a very high level. I truly love the game and love to compete, and I'm pleased to be honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame."
The induction ceremony is scheduled to take place on Monday, November 14th, 2011. The two join Brett Hull (class of 2009) as the only Dallas Stars to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"The Hockey Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these four hockey legends as Honored Members," said Jim Gregory. "Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved."
Belfour, 46, was the starting goaltender for the Dallas Stars for five seasons from 1997-2002 and manned the pipes when the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999. He played in 17 NHL seasons from 1988-2007 starting for five different teams (Chicago, San Jose, Dallas, Toronto and Florida). Belfour won the NHL's Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) in the 1990-91 and 1992-93 seasons, the William M. Jennings Trophy (fewest goals allowed) in 1990-91, 1992-93, 1994-95 and the 1998-99 seasons, the Calder Trophy (best rookie) in 1990-91 and the Roger Crozier MBNA Saving Grace Award (best save percentage) in 1999-00.
The Carman, Manitoba, native ranks third in all-time NHL wins with 484, behind only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. He appeared in 963 career NHL games posting a 484-320-111 record with a 2.50 goals against average (GAA) and a .906 save percentage (SV%). Belfour was a member of Canada's gold medal winning team at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Among Dallas Stars all-time leaders he ranks second in wins (160), shutouts (27), GAA (2.19) and sixth in games (307). Belfour led the Stars to the playoffs in four of his five seasons with the club and never posted a GAA above 2.25 during the playoffs, including a 1.67 GAA when the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999. He posted less than 20 wins during a full NHL season only once in his career, and was credited with 30-or-more wins in nine separate seasons during his time in the league.
Nieuwendyk, 44, played seven seasons for the Dallas Stars, helping the franchise capture the Stanley Cup in 1999 and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the most valuable player during the playoffs, after leading the Stars in scoring during the 1999 playoffs. He played for five separate teams (Calgary, Dallas, New Jersey, Toronto and Florida) and won the Stanley Cup in three different decades with three different teams (Calgary 1988, Dallas 1999, New Jersey 2003) during his career. Nieuwendyk won the NHL's Calder Trophy (Best rookie) in 1987-88 and the King Clancey Memorial Trophy (Leadership) in 1994-95. He skated in 1,247 career NHL games over 19 seasons, collecting 1,126 points (564g, 562a).
The Whitby, Ontario, native represented Canada at the Olympics in 1998 and 2002, winning the gold medal in 2002. He skated in 442 games for Dallas, scoring 178 goals and 162 assists for 340 points and is still ranked tied for 17th in all-time Dallas Stars scoring. Nieuwendyk appeared in 158 career NHL playoff games, posting 66 goals and 50 assists for 116 points and currently ranks eighth in all-time Dallas Stars' playoff goals with 25. He scored 20-or-more goals in 15 of his 19 seasons in the NHL and scored over 30 eight times. Nieuwendyk now leads the Dallas Stars front office after being named general manager of the club on May 31, 2009