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Counting the Stars - Number 43

Every day this summer 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.

Before we get to our pick at 43, we at least have to tap our sticks on the ice for the first Star to wear the number, Helmut Balderis.  Balderis became the oldest player ever to be selected int he NHL entry draft when the North Stars took him in the 12th round of the 89 draft. Helmut was a star of the Russian national teams of the 80's, but by the time he joined the flood of Russian players coming to North America from behind the iron curtain, his skills had diminished significantly. Now on with the pick...

#43 - Philippe Boucher

Boucher had already been a 10 year NHL vet when the Stars signed him in the summer of 2002 and worse yet came with significant injury baggage including missing most of the 99-2000 season with a foot injury suffered in training camp. Unlike previous long time veteran acquisitions that hadn't panned out for the Stars, Philippe actually played some of his best hockey in his 5 plus seasons with Dallas and posted career numbers in all major statistical categories while winning over the hearts of Stars fans with his solid work ethic and dedication to the team and sport...even in his most trying times.

Known for being a somewhat underrated defender with a very solid shot, the biggest knock against him was that he was constantly injury prone despite not playing all that physical a style that would be expected from a player his size.  That seemed to change though in Dallas as his first season he did manage to play in 80 regular season and 11 playoff games.  The following year was also respectable with 70 games played.  Despite that though Philipe wasn't quite putting up the offensive numbers some fans had hoped for.  That changed after the 04-05 lockout where a full year off from the game (unlike many other pros at the time Philipe didn't play in other leagues in Europe) seemed to help his game and he posted 16 goals and 27 assists in 66 games.   

The following season was his best ever as a pro which strangely enough came at a time when his personal life was filled with complications.  He posted career bests in goals (19), assists (32), points (51), power play goals (12)... His 19 goals tied him with Brad Maxwell for a team record most goals by a defenseman in one season.  His 12 pp goals set the record for most by a defenseman in one season. He was named to the 2007 All-Star game in his home city of Dallas as a reserve and then later by Western All-Stars head coach Barry Trotz named a starter to the game to fill in for an injured Scott Nidermayer.  All of this while his mother had underwent open-heart surgery in November, and even worse while his father battled pancreatic cancer - a fight he sadly ultimately lost days after the big game, but at th every least his father had the chance to see his son start the All-Star Game and take in the massive cheers of the Dallas crowd..

After that outstanding season though, Philipe started falling prey to injuries again as he only managed to play in 38 games due to undergoing shoulder surgery that caused him to miss most of the season.  The next season after the 08-09 campain - was a constant struggle for him to stay in the lineup and be effective when in there only putting up 3 assists in his 16 games with Dallas.  He was traded in November to Pittsburgh where he saw limited playing time, but on a happy note was a member of the Cup winning Penguins.

You'd be very hard pressed to find a Stars fan who was overly happy to see Boucher's time in Dallas end despite his recent struggles and even harder still to find a Stars fan that wasn't happy to see him lifting the Cup in June.  While it's still not certain if he'll be back for a 17th NHL season the unfortunate part is with the Penguins not scheduled to visit Dallas in 09-10, Stars fans won't get a chance to send Philippe off the way befitting a beloved player such as himself.