Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
Features
 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

The Beginning of a Journey

Signing of Hull gives Dallas upper hand

Tuesday, 09.09.2008 / 1:00 PM / Feature
By Bob Matuszak

This season marks the 10-year anniversary of the Dallas Stars’ first Stanley Cup championship. What follows is the first of seven installments that delves into that magical 1998-99 campaign, from training camp all the way to Brett Hull's Cup-clinching goal in triple-overtime in Game 6 in Buffalo.

 
As the clock wound down on the Dallas Stars in their Game 6 Western Conference finals loss to the Detroit Red Wings, owner Tom Hicks was already making plans to meet with team president Jim Lites and general manager Bob Gainey. It may have been a memorable playoff run, but it was certainly unfulfilling for a Stars team that fell a series short of their ultimate goal.

Bob Gainey
After a promising season in which Dallas earned the President's Trophy for the best regular season record, the Stars dreams of winning the Stanley Cup vanished in the bowels of Joe Louis Arena in June 1998. Determined to erase the bitter taste in the organization's mouth, the front office immediately went to work, looking to improve upon a club that already boasted a strong mix of youthful energy and veteran leadership.

The '97-98 Stars team, under the guidance of bench jockey Ken Hitchcock, made its mark by playing back-breaking defense. It was commonplace for that bunch to allow 15 shots on goalie Ed Belfour while mustering just enough offense to win a low-scoring and tight-checking affair. Against the Red Wings, the Stars quickly found out that sometimes your best defense is a good offense.

Dallas' power play was sickly in the '98 postseason, converting on just 1-of-30 man advantage opportunities against the Red Wings. So with Hitchcock's defensive-minded system firmly in place, Hicks and Co. were determined to get some more "O" that was lacking at "The Joe."

Coincidentally, there just so happened to be one of the most explosive goal scorers available when the free agent market opened less than a month later.

Follow The Golden-Brett Road
As the free agent feeding frenzy began on July 1, St. Louis forward Brett Hull was a highly sought after commodity. After turning down the Blues $15 million contract offer in March because it didn't include a no-trade clause, Hull's name shot straight to the top of the wish list for many teams in the NHL. One of those clubs was the Dallas Stars.

After being acquired from Calgary by the Blues at the end of the 1988 season, Hull had become the most prolific scorer in the league. The six-time All Star scored an amazing 228 goals in a three-year span that began in 1989, and had already accumulated 554 goals and 433 assists in 801 career games. The soon-to-be 34-year-old was an asset waiting to be had.

It was widely speculated that the Stars weren't interested in doling out big dollars for the outspoken Hull, who was perceived around the league to be a selfish and one-dimensional player that wouldn't fit in the team-oriented mold the Stars had created under Gainey and his Montreal Canadiens roots.

But on Thursday, July 3, Hicks shocked the hockey world by signing Hull to a three-year, $17 million contract that included the no-trade clause the sniper dearly wanted.

"A few weeks ago, we decided Brett would be our No. 1 priority free agent," Hicks said. "We thought he'd be interested in coming here because we think we have a chance to win the Stanley Cup."

Indeed.

"When you first break into the league, you want to establish yourself as a player, financially, building a home, a foundation and a future," Hull said. "Then the main thing is to be a champion. I've always wanted to do that. I wanted to do that in St. Louis, but I'm not in St. Louis anymore. When Dallas called, I thought they were as close to anybody to winning the Stanley Cup. It's a great honor they want me to be a part of that."

Added Gainey: "He provides added depth, and his abilities, skills, experiences and passion to play on a successful team will help us."

With Hull delivered, the Stars instantly became a top favorite to dethrone the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. Gainey, though, knew his summer job was still a work in process.


NEXT: Part II of this first installment on 1998-99 -- More key signings, Training Camp and the Regular Season Begins

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 23 14 4 5 63 56 33
2 NSH 22 15 5 2 62 45 32
3 VAN 22 15 6 1 67 61 31
4 STL 22 14 6 2 59 46 30
5 CGY 24 14 8 2 75 64 30
6 LAK 23 12 6 5 64 53 29
7 CHI 22 13 8 1 66 46 27
8 WPG 24 12 9 3 51 54 27
9 MIN 21 12 9 0 58 48 24
10 SJS 24 10 10 4 62 66 24
11 DAL 22 9 9 4 64 74 22
12 ARI 23 9 11 3 57 71 21
13 COL 23 8 10 5 59 73 21
14 EDM 23 6 14 3 51 78 15

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Seguin 22 17 11 6 28
J. Benn 22 8 12 4 20
J. Spezza 22 4 15 -6 19
A. Roussel 22 5 7 -3 12
T. Daley 22 5 6 -10 11
C. Eakin 19 4 5 2 9
A. Goligoski 22 0 9 2 9
J. Klingberg 8 3 5 6 8
R. Garbutt 19 3 5 -5 8
E. Cole 21 4 3 -3 7
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 9 5 4 .908 2.93
A. Lindback 0 4 0 .845 4.52
#LONESTARSSTATE GAMEDAY FAN

DallasStars.com is the official Web site of DSE Hockey Club, L.P.  The Stars name and logos are registered trademarks of the NHL and the Stars. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2014 DSE Hockey Club, L.P. and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

Corporate Partnerships | Contact UsPrivacy Policy | AdChoices | Job Opportunities | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map | Find us on Google+