Sloan to join Stars in LA
December 3, 2003
By J. Douglas Foster
Stars goaltender Marty Turco said hard work is contagious. He's seen the extreme effort of players like Rob DiMaio, Jere Lehtinen and Brenden Morrow provide a "how to" guide of hard work for the rest of their Stars teammates so far this season. He saw right wing Blake Sloan provide the same kind of example for his squad while the two were teammates at the University of Michigan.
Now, he'll get to see Sloan's efforts combined with the aforementioned Stars. Hard work, it seems, will soon become the brand of this Dallas team.
The Stars front office made a step towards that end Wednesday, claiming Sloan, a former Star, off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings. Sloan, who played with the Stars from 1999-2001, had been with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League this season, posting six points and a plus-6 rating in seven games, before being signed by Detroit on Monday.
The Red Wings, however, placed Sloan on waivers, at which point the Stars claimed him Wednesday morning.
"He brings hard work, but he also brings accountability," Turco said of his college teammate. "In a game where doing the right thing every time is important, that kind of thing is contagious. We've seen guys like Robbie and Brenden play hard every shift, and when guys see that they work just as hard. You could definitely see it when Jere came back and the difference he made.
"I think Blake falls in that same category. He does the hard things, and he does them all the time. I think he'll fit in great here, and we're certainly glad to have him."
Sloan, who went to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals with the Stars, winning one cup in 1999, was never drafted in the NHL despite playing in three Frozen Fours with the Wolverines.
He actually made his way to the NHL through Dallas. While playing for current Stars head coach Dave Tippett in Houston, then Stars general manager Bob Gainey went to Houston to watch the Stars' farm club, Kalamazoo, play against Houston.
But it was Sloan that caught Gainey's eye.
"Bob called the next day and said the Dallas Stars wanted to sign him," Tippett said.
Tippett certainly knows why, and Stars fans soon found out as well. He appeared in 114 games with the Stars, scoring six goals and dishing out 15 assists for 21 points with 64 penalty minutes.
But he didn't become a Dallas fan favorite because of any statistics. He earned the town's respect because of his hard work and grittiness, which all came despite his 5-foot-10, 196-pound frame.
"He's a very gritty player," Tippett said. "He finishes his checks every time, he's got great quickness, he can skate and he plays the game fearlessly."
Sloan will join the Stars in Game One of their west-coast road trip, getting in the lineup for Thursday's contest in Los Angeles against the Kings.
Many of his teammates will be meeting Sloan for the first time. Those who have played with him already know what to expect.
"He brings energy and excitement," Stars defenseman Richard Matvichuk said. "He's the kind of guy who prides himself on hard work and being physical when he gets the opportunity. He brings everything he's got to the team every night."