HHOF Notebook: Will Newy be next?
Monday, 11.09.2009 / 10:28 PM / News
By Bob Matuszak
TORONTO -- With Brett Hull now officially inducted into the Hall of Fame, the Dallas Stars could find another one of their all-time greats giving an acceptance speech a year from now.
With his credentials, Nieuwendyk will undoubtedly get in. Whether it's in 2010 or afterwards is the question. The MVP of the 1999 Stanley Cup playoffs, Nieuwendyk's accomplishments are plentiful, including helping three different teams (Dallas, Calgary and New Jersey) to Stanley Cup championships.
"It would be a thrill obviously," Nieuwendyk said. "You see how big things are here, so it would certainly be a thrill for me."
Ironically, Hull and Co. may make Nieuwendyk wait a year or two. With the talent-heavy '09 class of Hull, Brian Leetch, Steve Yzerman and Luc Robitaille, players passed over like Doug Gilmour, Adam Oates and Phil Housley could push Nieuwendyk out of the 2010 class.
Hull and Nieuwendyk's eventual induction could open the floodgates for former Stars players like defenseman Sergei Zubov and goalie Ed Belfour.
Former Stars GM Doug Armstrong says that's not a surprise.
"There were some very good players on that '99 team," he said. "I think Zubov has flown under the radar a little. Winning followed him around, and everywhere he went the team won. There's a bunch of players that came out of that Stars era that have the opportunity to have their careers end in the Hall of Fame."
Mike Modano, of course, is a cinch to get on the first ballot. That is, if he ever retires.
Bobby Hull said that he used to bale hay and shovel snow to help develop his immense arm and wrist strength. So what did his son Brett do?
"I don't know," Bobby said. "I think it's all genetic."
Proud as ever, Bobby Hull confidently strode down the red carpet to watch his son become enshrined.
"There's nothing that can compare to this," he said. "Not even my induction. Mine was far less important than his is."
As a 20-year-old, Brenden Morrow learned from the best during his rookie season in 1999-2000 -- his boyhood idol Hull.
Morrow witnessed firsthand Hull's memorable snap shot, and lethal one-timer. But it was what he did in the locker room that also made a tremendous mark on the current Dallas captain.
"He was never superstitious," Morrow said. "He'd do a crossword puzzle one day, take a nap another day, or go for a run. He always changed it up. He was like a kid again going out and playing in a game. He always had a smile. When you score that many goals, everyone's gonna smile, but he didn't take it like a job, he took it like a game that he loved."
Morrow considers himself honored to have honed his craft as a professional learning from players such Hull, Nieuwendyk, Craig Ludwig and Guy Carbonneau.
"To be able to play with them, I was blessed," Morrow said. "I came in at a good time and learned from a lot of good players."
Modano was among the Stars contingent that traveled to Toronto to watch Hull's induction, and couldn't have been happier for his former linemate.
"It's exciting, and I'm really happy for him." Modano said before the ceremony. "He's just a great guy. I loved playing with him, and he was fun both off and on the ice. I'm proud of him that he got here."
The Stars contingent included Nieuwendyk, president Jeff Cogen, and executive vice president of sales and marketing Geoff Moore. Moore was the very first hire for the Stars when they moved from Minneapolis to Dallas.
Brett Hull was getting ready for a round of golf when he got the Hall call. Both Steve Yzerman and Luc Robitaille were working in their offices when the 416 are code popped up on their caller ID.
Brian Leetch? He was cruising down the highway when he was getting calls from various calls and friends texting him and asking if he had received a call from the Hall of Fame.
"I was saying, 'No, should I have?'" Leetch said.
The easy-going Robitaille put his street-smarts to work and didn't panic when he saw the Toronto area code.
"I figured they weren't calling to tell me I didn't get in," he chuckled. "So I decided I better answer it."