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No Ordinary Joe

Monday, 10.20.2003 / 12:00 AM / News
Dallas Stars
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No Ordinary Joe

October 20, 2003

By J. Douglas Foster

Stars goaltender Marty Turco remembers the moment.

It was a rare occasion in Turco's career, one he hasn't seen often. But after allowing four goals during his rookie season against the New Jersey Devils at Reunion Arena, Turco was pulled from the game by coach Ken Hitchcock.

The next day, after practice, a young Turco faced more heat than he had the night before as every member of the local media surrounded his stall wanting to know exactly what happened. Entering the locker room late after staying on the ice for extra work, then Stars center Joe Nieuwendyk had their answer.

Nieuwendyk walked right to the edge of the media scrum, leaned in around the cameras and interrupted Turco's grilling.

"What happened last night was no fault of Marty's," he said.

"That's just the kind of guy he is," Turco said of his former teammate. "He's more of a friend than a teammate. He probably meant more to me off the ice than anyone I've played with yet. He's just that kind of human being, and I don't think anyone who knows him would doubt that."

That's just the kind of teammate Joe Nieuwendyk was to the other members of the Dallas Stars. That's why they'll always remember the things he did for them personally and for the organization, and that's why Stars fans will always consider him a part of their team, even if he's no longer wearing the Stars logo on his chest.

Wednesday will be Nieuwendyk's first trip back to Dallas in a visiting sweater since being traded to New Jersey in March of 2002, now as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs along with former Stars goaltender Ed Belfour.

Belfour made his return, last season, in a 2-1 loss to Turco and the Stars. This trip is Nieuwendyk's "welcome home," and for obvious reasons.

This guy was, to this team, the consummate teammate.

"He would do anything for you," Stars captain Mike Modano said of Nieuwendyk. "He's the kind of friend you could really rely on, and he's one that will always be a good friend to a lot of us."

During the summer months, Stars fans got excited about the possibility of Nieuwendyk returning to Dallas permanently as rumors flew about the possibility of him re-signing with his former team.

His former teammates certainly would not have minded.

"He's the one who kind of helped me grow up in this league," Stars left wing Brenden Morrow said. "I came in with that wide-eyed look every young kid has, and he led the way for me. He was kind of like a father figure for a lot of the younger guys."

Stars head coach Dave Tippett knows how his current players feel about Nieuwendyk. He had a similar experience with several players during his days in Hartford, bonding very closely with several core members of the team.

Kevin Dineen is one who stood out the most. But after the two were separated, Tippett said, he was just like any other opponent while on the ice, no matter how close the friendship was.

He expects the same between his team and Nieuwendyk.

"He was a great guy and a great teammate," Tippett said. "But you don't look to say hello on the ice or he would run you over.

"I'm sure a lot of people in Dallas will be friends with Joe for a long time. It's a similar situation we had in Hartford where six or eight guys remained friends for many years."

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*Stars right wing Jere Lehtinen's eligibility status was changed to week-to-week late Monday night, and Tippett said he would be reevaluated next Monday.

*Former Star and Maple Leaf Kirk Muller will be honored Wednesday in a ceremonial faceoff before the game. Muller announced his retirement this past summer.

*For Turco, facing the Maple Leafs -- no matter who is in the other net -- is always a thrill. After all, while growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, nothing was more important than that Maple Leaf crest. "I grew up watching that team on TV, Saturday nights on Hockey Night in Canada," he said. "Seeing those uniforms on the ice is always a special feeling."




1 ANA 66 42 17 7 196 179 91
2 NSH 65 41 17 7 193 158 89
3 STL 63 40 18 5 197 159 85
4 CHI 64 38 21 5 188 152 81
5 WPG 65 32 21 12 180 175 76
6 VAN 63 36 24 3 182 173 75
7 MIN 63 34 22 7 179 163 75
8 CGY 63 34 25 4 178 162 72
9 LAK 63 30 21 12 171 164 72
10 SJS 65 32 25 8 185 183 72
11 COL 64 28 25 11 170 183 67
12 DAL 64 28 26 10 199 212 66
13 ARI 64 20 37 7 139 218 47
14 EDM 64 18 36 10 145 213 46


J. Benn 64 23 38 -4 61
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 64 15 37 -5 52
J. Klingberg 50 10 24 2 34
T. Daley 61 16 17 -10 33
C. Eakin 61 15 15 0 30
A. Hemsky 58 9 17 -9 26
A. Goligoski 64 2 24 2 26
A. Roussel 62 12 12 -10 24
S. Horcoff 60 8 13 3 21
K. Lehtonen 26 13 10 .906 2.95
J. Enroth 13 25 2 .900 3.30
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