With the decade drawing to a close, and everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection pumping out top ten lists, we thought we'd take our turn and give you what we believe should be the Dallas Stars All-Decade Team for the 2000's. We're not going to go through a long, drawn out retrospective on the past ten years; we all know how the Stars have gone from Stanley Cup finalists to what they are now. Three coaches, a bevy of first round playoff losses and one extremely disappointing season in 2008. Yet in all of that, there were some pretty special players that took the ice in a Dallas Stars jersey.
After the jump, we run down all 23 players on Defending Big D's Dallas Stars All-Decade Team, and I'll bet you already know who the top line is.....
Center - Mike Modano
The all-time leading scorer among American-born players, Mike Modano has been the face of this franchise since 1989, and nothing has changed since then. While his role has diminished somewhat over the past two seasons, Modano was not only one of the leading scorers on the Stars for the better part of the decade he was also the team's best two-way forward and was consistently tasked with shutting down the opposition's top line. Despite entering the NHL as a goal-scoring savant, Modano readily accepted a more defensive role with the team in lieu of beefy stats, and has still set franchise records in nearly every offensive category.
When contract talks came into play several years ago it looked as if the Stars would be unable to keep the face of the franchise. Yet after taking some time to reflect, Modano came back to the Stars and took what many felt was a discounted contract to stay with the team that drafted him. There's no doubt now that Modano will retire as a Dallas Star and will go down as the greatest player in franchise history.
Left Wing - Brenden Morrow
When Morrow first took the ice for the Stars in the 1999-2000 season, he was a fiery fourth line player that was dating a teammates daughter. He showcased an incredible willingness to do all of the dirty work the team needed and became known for his ability to score from within 5 feet of the crease. Over the years he has grown to be much more than just a gritty forward who likes to fight and can score in bunches, and has emerged as one of the most skilled wingers in the NHL. He plays a well-rounded game that is equal parts determination and talent.
Yet it's his leadership qualities that really sets Morrow apart. He personifies 'leadership by example', and the way he propelled the Stars to the Western Conference Finals in 2008 has become the stuff of legend. There's no doubt that if the Stars had won the Stanley Cup that season that Morrow would have been named the Conn Smythe winner. He was this team's captain and the leader of the Stars for most of the past ten years, and he's been this team's greatest player both on and off the ice for his entire career.
Right Wing - Jere Lehtinen
Like Modano, Jere Lehtinen is entering the twilight of his career. Yet for the past ten years he has hands down been the team's best defensive forward and one of the best in the NHL. His best years came before the NHL lockout, when twice he had a better +/- than he did penalty minutes. He emerged as an offensive threat as well, leading the Stars in goals in two straight seasons.
Lehtinen in a Selke trophy winner and Lady Byng finalist, and one of the most unassuming personalities in Dallas sports history while easily being one of the best. He has always been a quiet, no-bull player, yet was one of the most dynamic players on the ice. It's going to be tough to imagine a future without Lehtinen on the team, but injury troubles have sidelined a once steady career. Still, he has been the model for what a defensive forward should be and is easily one of the best players in team history.
Defense - Stephane Robidas
This spot was tough to fill as there were a number of deserving defensemen, yet when I look back as to who I think of as the top blueliners for the Stars for the past ten years, Stephane Robidas' named keeps popping up. He's actually enjoyed two separate stints with the Stars this decade, joining the Chicago Blackhawks for a brief stint in 2003. He rejoined the Stars after the lockout and has become this team's most steady defensemen and the personification of heart and soul in a hockey player.
Defense - Sergei Zubov
I've written plenty about Sergei Zubov this past year, and it's actually painful for me to try and write more. He was always my favorite player and it hurts deeply to think of him on the ice and not wearing a Stars jersey. Here's an excerpt from my farewell to Zubov:
Most will think of Zubov as the long-time "quarterback" of the Dallas Stars, a defenseman who had the ability to create sensational plays in all facets of the game. At times it seemed he had a telepathic link with each of teammates, where he instinctively knew where they would go and where their stick would be. He could make any pass from anywhere on the ice and 99.9% of the time it was perfectly placed, yet he was so much more than a offensive specialist. He was a workhorse on the blue line, night after night logging more minutes that any other player on the ice. He seemed to be tireless, always playing with the same energy in the third overtime that he had in the first period. He is a rock in his own zone, a defensemen who is rarely out of position and who always made the right play at the perfect time.
He was a flashy, magical player on the ice but you would never have known it by his demeanor and attitude. His quiet intensity and legendary work ethic should be an example for any player hoping to become successful in the NHL. Despite having players like Brenden Morrow, Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Derian Hatcher and Marty Turco on the team, Zubov was the unspoken true leader of the Dallas Stars. He was the unwavering wall on the blue line year after year, never playing less than 73 games in a season for the Stars until 2007.
Goaltender - Marty Turco
This was the easy choice. He took over for Ed Belfour in 2002 and has been the mainstay in net for the Stars ever since. Like the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Turco has long been the whipping post for Stars fans and the blame for all that has gone wrong over the years. His struggles in the post-season have been well documented, but in 2007 Turco proved that he was capable of leading his team to victory in a playoff series. In perhaps of the single greatest performances by a Stars players I've witnessed, Turco posted three shutouts against Vancouver in a series the Stars lost every game they allowed a goal. He followed that up with another magical playoff performance in 2008, and was able to finally win against the Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena.
No one knows what the future holds for Turco and the Stars, but there is no doubt that was a major factor in the team's success over the past ten years.
Brett Hull - Joe Nieuwendyk - Loui Eriksson
Derian Hatcher - Philippe Boucher
Jamie Langenbrunner - Mike Ribeiro - Stu Barnes
Richard Matvichuk - Daryl Sydor
Bill Guerin - Brad Richards - Steve Ott
Matias Norstrom - Brad Lukowich
I'm sure we left someone off who you felt belonged. Who is on your All-Decade Team for the Dallas Stars?