With the 20th anniversary of the Stars quickly approaching in 2013, it's getting close to the time that we can evaluate and firmly pick the best players to ever put on the black, green, and gold. Note that this is not necessarily just taking the 20 highest scoring players off of Wikipedia and pasting them onto this post- this is about taking players that've exceeded their role on the team, and have each carved their own legacy in the history of this excellent franchise.
We can do this in a few ways. One way is that we can compose an actual team of the best to ever lace them up for us. So, that'd be 4 centers, 8 wingers, 6 defensemen, 2-3 goalies, and a few "healthy scratches" (honorable mentions/future all-time greats). Basically, in a non-cap era, with every player to ever put on a Stars sweater at your disposal, who would you pick to win a Cup with?
Another way to do this is to pick 2-3 players that were the best we've ever had at their role. So, we'd have to decide on the top playmakers, top snipers, etc.. This could get pretty fun, as we could reach a general consensus on the best enforcer, best backup goalie, and other obscure, enjoyable categories.
The last way is to just list out the best players to ever step on the ice for Dallas. This can be a comprehensive list (1 to say, 50) or a very short list (1-5). The length is up to you. After the jump, you can see the team I've constructed as an example.
I'm partial to option #1, which is building a team. Below (since I have so much time on my hands) I'll list out (in my opinion) the best possible team the Stars could ever have, taking from nearly 20 years of history. Please be aware that I'm also basing this off of what players WILL accomplish in their careers (namely Loui and Benn).
1. Mike Modano- I really don't need to explain this. Without Modano, this team has been in Canada for 6-7 years by now. He brought so much more than the records, he brought the Stars an identity. There'll probably be no other player in awhile that brings excitement and a following to the Stars like Modano did. He was one of a kind. There won't just be a number in the rafters and a plaque for him- there'll be a statue and a legacy as well.
2. Joe Nieuwendyk- Put up good numbers during his time in Dallas, but his real quality was leadership. He would've been the captain if Hatcher wasn't here.
3. Guy Carbonneau- This is where things get tricky. Do I want to put all the best scorers at center? Or the best all around players? Carbonneau was the Vernon Fiddler of the Cup run, for all the new fans out there. He was excellent at face offs, and if I'm not mistaken (I was a young kid when we won the cup), was one of, if not the, best penalty killing forwards we've ever had. He was basically the definition of a checking line center.
4. Mike Ribeiro- "Oh the horror! A player not from the cup era!" Relax, I know what I'm doing. Here's a stat for you- in 387 games played for Dallas, Ribeiro has 344 points. For comparison's sake, in 442 games played for Dallas, Joe Nieuwendyk had 340 points. Sure, Ribeiro is probably one of the more frustrating players in Stars history (see any game when his "dipsy-doo bulls**t" doesn't work), but when he's on, he's been one of the more exciting players to ever wear black and gold. His highlight reel moves can make the crowd shake their heads, and his passes are always superb. Also, he represents one of the best trades we've ever had. Seriously? Janne Niinimaa? You're joking, right?
(Honorable mentions- Brad Richards, Stu Barnes, Neal Broten. Only reason Broten isn't top 4 is because this list doesn't include feats with the North Stars.)
1.Jere Lehtinen- The unsung hero of the Dallas Stars. I originally had him number 2 behind Brett Hull, but then I realized how important Lehtinen was to all the success this franchise has experienced. He was truly "the king of little things", as he did everything good. Maybe not great, but good. He wasn't lacking at any area of the game. His work ethic and hustle were unparalled, as evidenced by the Selkes he won. I'd wager that Modano might not have broken the US points record without him. YEAH I SAID IT.
2. Brett Hull- his game was predictably unstoppable. Line up on the dot, and wait for the pass from Modano or Sergei. He made one-timers look as easy as anyone. You may never see a player like him again.
3. Brenden Morrow- Maybe his game isn't what it used to be. Maybe the wear and tear of busting his ass every night is catching up to him. Regardless, Morrow is still the best leader this team has ever had. His hits were game changing. Half the time, his goals were pure grit. No other player could carry a team like Morrow and Marty Turco did in the 07-08 WCF run. I wouldn't mind seeing his number in the rafters when it's all said and done.
4. Loui Eriksson- When it's all said and done, he may jump to number 2 on this list. Lehtinen 2.0, with more of a knack for the net. Can't wait to see what he does with Jamie Benn for the duration of their careers.
5. Jamie Benn- He'll probably be number 1 on this list by the end of his time here. I put him as a winger, because that's where he should be if Dallas wants to maximize his potential. I can't put him in the power forward category like Morrow because that phrase wouldn't speak enough about his ability. He's basically a big version of Jarome Iginla.
6. Jamie Langenbrunner- If Armstrong never made that trade, he's number 3 or 4 on this list. Wish we could've seen the prime of his career in Dallas.
7. Pat Verbeek- The Little Ball of Hate. Drew so many penalties, and was a fan favorite for his pesky play. Would've loved to seen him and the next guy on the same line.
8. Steve Ott- The essence of Verbeek, plus 3 inches and alot of yap. Razor once said he would've drank bleach if he wasn't a Star during the 09-10 season- I'd extend that to the past 3-4 years. Definitely not one of the most skilled players, but one of the most entertaining players to ever skate for us.
(Honorable mentions- Bill Guerin, Russ Courtnall, Ulf Dahlen)
1. Sergei Zubov- There are some who debate that Zubov is the best Stars player ever. I'm not against that notion. Sergei represents THE best trade in Stars history (thank you Lord Gainey), and by golly he represented alot more than that. His passes were unparalleled. In a world without Niklas Lidstrom he'd be said to be the best passing defenseman of the modern era. Amazing, undescribable talent. Look for his 56 to be in the rafters soon.
2. Derian Hatcher- 6'6", 225, and a mean streak. What more can you say about Hatcher? He's the scariest hockey player I've ever seen in person. You still see replays of his hit on Jeremy Roenick, and you will for decades to come. Oh, and his slapshot was an absolute firecracker, even though he only has a few goals to show for it.
3. Stephane Robidas- What a story he is. 5'11" but he plays like he's Hatcher's size. The definition of heart. I'll never forget seeing him score against Anaheim in game 6 of 08.
4. Craig Ludwig- THE shot blocking God. You always hear stories about his huge shin pads, just so he could block shots. Great definition of defensive defenseman.
5. Daryl Sydor- Zubov's wingman. He wasn't a slouch either though. Truly a poor man's Sergei.
6. Richard Matvichuk- You almost never heard about him, because he barely ever did things wrong. Great stay at home defensman.
(Honorable Mentions- Phillipe Boucher, Alex Goligoski [he'll be up there when it's said and done], Mattias Norstrom.)
1. Ed Belfour- If he had played as many games for Dallas as Marty did, we'd be retiring his number instead of just giving him a plaque. Had that "clutch gene" the Stars needed in their goaltender, and made so many memories based on his aggressiveness and tenacity. Huge competitor.
2. Marty Turco- The leader in most of the Stars goaltending statistical categories. Just wish he was able to keep it together after 07-08.
(Honorable Mention- Kari Lehtonen [probably will be 2b on the list when it's said and done])
By no means should your list have to be as exhaustive as mine, but I'm sure many would like to come to a general consensus as to who are the best Dallas Stars of all time. Debate down in the comments, and give your own ideas!