Dallas Stars All-Franchise Team - Who Would You Pick to Save DFW From Destruction?
The Dallas Stars' All-Franchise team has been selected and they will play against alien invaders in a hockey game. The stakes are high and failure is not an option.
The year is 2015, and aliens have invaded the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The invasion is limited to our fair suburbs because aliens love fracking for natural gas and hate happy people with no state income tax. Our nation has abandoned us and all hope is lost.
In a surprising show of mercy, the aliens challenge DFW to a hockey game. If the aliens win, they will destroy us. If the DFWers win the game, we get to continue living life free to do as we please. The stakes are high. Obviously, the aliens know that they would crush the Dallas Stars as they currently exist, so they throw us a bone: a time machine.
We are now tasked with creating a hockey team formed entirely of current or former Stars to defend us. The aliens gave us only a few rules:
- If we use the time machine, we can only use the player during his time as a Star. For example, if we wanted Bill Guerin, we could only have him on our team from the time period he played for the Stars.
- We are allowed to take the player during his prime, as long as rule No. 1 is followed.
- This will be a complete active roster - 4 lines, 3 pairs, and 2 goalies.
- The rules will be taken from the rulebook used in NHL games today.
Let the roster-bating begin.
Line 1 - Jamie Benn, Mike Modano, Brett Hull:
I mean, come on. Benn and Hull centered by Modano? Brett Hull was not at the peak of his powers during his time in Dallas, but he did bring the Cup to Big D. He was an All-Star every year he wore green, was a Hart Trophy nominee in 2000-01, and he recorded 11 goals and 13 assists in the 1999-2000 playoffs. He was a ghost with a wicked shot and he always performed in big games. Jamie Benn is on the team because I love him and I want his big game chops deciding my fate against the aliens. Not much needs to be said about the inclusion of Modano. The franchise leader is nearly every imaginable category, Magic Mike needs no explanation.
Line 2 - James Neal, Brad Richards, and Tyler Seguin:
This line will be dissected and crucified, mostly because of the selection of Richards and Neal. Here is my thinking: if we get in a track meet with the aliens, these guys will get the job done. We have electrifying releases in Seguin and Neal and a dime-dropper in Richards. Neal adds a bit of toughness to a line that will probably have 55 shots on net in this game. Keep in mind, this does not mean I think Richards, Neal, or Seguin are the fourth, fifth, and sixth best players in franchise history. I am trying to create lines that make complete sense from a style of play standpoint. Essentially, I am trying to not be Lindy Ruff.
Line 3 - Loui Eriksson, Neal Broten, and Jere Lehtinen:
Is it even possible to score a goal against this line? To be quite honest, this is my favorite line on the team. In 1982, Neal Broten was a staple on Minnesota's penalty kill, failing to score at least one shorthanded goal in only two of his 15 complete NHL seasons. Jere Lehtinen was a dominant two-way forward during his time in the league, winning three Selke Trophies with the Stars. Loui has never won a Selke, but I really want to scream, "Louuuuuuuuuuuuuuuui" again. Sue me.
Line 4 - Brenden Morrow, Joe Nieuwendyk, and Dino Ciccarelli:
The fourth line is our Swiss Army Knife. Defensively coherent? Check. Ability to score goals? Check. Full of hockey cliché's like, "hard to play against, annoying, mean, gritty, tough, etc"? Check. I mean, does anyone remember Game 6 against the Sharks? 100 overtimes, three combined goals, and Morrow was there when the chips were down. This is also a chemistry play, much like Line 2.
D-Pair 1 - Derian Hatcher and Sergei Zubov:
If you give me trouble for this pick, feel free to go jump.
D-Pair 2 - Darryl Sydor and Stephane Robidas:
We may give up a clutch goal that seals the fate of our Metroplex, but it won't be with this pair on the ice. This is Tim Duncan and Bill Russell. John Stockton and Scottie Pippen. Curtis Martin and Emmitt Smith. This is not Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley. We may not get a point from this pairing, but neither will the aliens.
D-Pair 3 Philippe Boucher and Jonathan Hockey:
I have to admit, I am a little bit intrigued by this pairing. We have balance in pair 1, consistency in pair 2, and a Klingon in pair 3. Boucher gives John Klingberg a bit more space to do his thing, and his left stick jives with the righty of Klingberg. Some may say that Johnny Dallas doesn't deserve this spot yet, but his creativity and free flowing game paired with Boucher make me want this to happen. With the fate of our town on the shoulders of this team, Klingberg has a spot on my boat. Note: Switch Hatcher and Klingberg, and tell me your heart doesn't skip a beat. I stuck with righty/lefty combos, but this might be too fun of a combo to pass up when the puck drops.
Eddie Belfour and Marty Turco
This decision gave me more pause than I expected. On the surface, everyone assumes Belfour. In his five seasons in Dallas, the Eagle never posted a save percentage above .919. He did win two Vezina Trophies, but those were with the Blackhawks. Marty Turco posted three season save percentages above that mark, with one season of .932 (where he finished second in Vezina voting). Marty Turco also played in the four overtime war against the Sharks in 2008. This was one of the greatest goal tending duels of all time, and Turco posted a final stat line of 61 saves on 62 shots.
But in the playoffs for his career, Turco had a save percentage of .914 to Belfour's .925 with Dallas. Turco has the big game chops, but as all Stars' fans know, a stinker from Turco was a STINKER. We can't afford to take that chance. Starter: Belfour.
The aliens came flying out of the gate in the first period. It became clear that they had been watching hockey for many years, and several aliens had modeled their games after the greats like Orr and Gretzky. After jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead, our Stars began the long trek back into the game. A hooking call lead to a Dallas power play, and the Stars made no mistake. Quick tic-tac-toe passing between Zubov, Benn, and Seguin lead to a howitzer from Hull to bring the humans within one. At the end of the first the aliens outshot Dallas 19-6, but the tide began to turn.
The Stars got out to a quick start when they out changed the aliens at the 15 minute mark of the second period. With the Morrow line on against an exhausted alien crew, Nieuwendyk finished after a scramble around the net. The Stars had equalized. The second period ended unremarkably, save a fight in which Hatcher beat down two aliens.
The third began, and the aliens scored quickly. Down 3-2, the Stars needed a rally. The call was answered when Benn breached the alien defense, undressed their net minder, and slid the biscuit into the open net. The equalizer had been tallied, and the American Airlines Center registered on the Richter scale. A few minutes later, the aliens caught the Stars in a change and burst through the middle of the ice. All was surely lost. The alien pulled a Peter Forsberg/Mike Ribeiro and with one hand on the stick tried to slide the puck in the back door. Belfour hung in the paint, kicked his leg out Tune-Squad MJ style, and stoned the attempt. With the score knotted at three Modano took a holding penalty. As the barrage began the arena tried to remain hopeful. Belfour stood tall and beat back the alien invaders. As the penalty expired, Eriksson fired the puck up ice and hit Modano perfectly in stride. Nothing could catch him. His jersey flapping in the wake behind him, Modano had the game on his stick. Softer than a mother's kiss at bedtime, Modano buried it. The Stars had won 4-3, and DFW was saved.
"Coach and acting GM, what did you think of your team's performance?"
"I was pleased. We were able to fend off destruction of our town in an entirely fictional but wildly entertaining hockey game. I couldn't be prouder of the guys."
"What was the process like preparing such an important roster?"
"These decisions were difficult to make, and as a GM some conversations were tough. I had to tell Turco he wasn't starting, I had to tell Daley he has been traded for Duncan Keith, and I had to put Jamie Benn on a line with Mike Modano and Brett Hull. All in all, it was a great relief to have the guys show up and really dominate the game the way they did. This is a roster full of players that all meshed together very well and put up a good fight. Wearing that sweater means something, and I can't think of a different group of players I would rather trust with the fate of my home. This city should be proud of their current and former Stars."
"Coach, I have it on good authority that the Chicago Blackhawks are facing a similar crisis of alien destruction. I am also receiving word that they want you to build their team. How would you respond?"
"Let them burn."
(All images in this story courtesy of Getty Images or USA Today.)