Former Stars Captain Enjoying Role with Flyers
Sunday, 06.5.2011 / 10:30 AM CT / News
By Steve Hunt
During his 16 seasons in the NHL, 11 of which were spent in Dallas, Derian Hatcher was regarded as one of the top defensemen in the league. Originally the eighth overall pick by the North Stars in the 1990 NHL Draft, Hatcher was an all-star in 1997 and two years later was a key contributor to the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup championship team.
|1999 Stanley Cup Rewind|
“Those were great years of my career. Between my time in Dallas and the two years in Minnesota, I was there for 12 years, a big chunk of my career,” Hatcher said. “Not only was the time I spent down there the best years of my career but I think it was also the best years of the organization as well.”
Stars fans also remember him playing alongside older brother Kevin during the 1995-96 season.
“It was good. It was something we always talked about and dreamed of happening,” Hatcher said. “I don’t regret it at all and I don’t think he does either. To be able to do that, play in the Olympics and the World Cup together, it was really nice for us.”
The big, hulking blue liner was a huge fan favorite during his long run with the Stars, so much so that there are still a number of fans wearing Hatcher sweaters for most games at the American Airlines Center.
“It’s always nice to know people haven’t forgotten about you,” he said.
And yes, he does still think about being part of that magical ’99 Stars team quite a bit.
“Well, obviously that’s something you think about all the time, especially in what I do now. You always think about what helps teams win, why they win and why they don’t win,” Hatcher said. “It was great. There was a good chunk of guys that had been there a long time. Winning it with those guys, I think it made it that much better. We had probably six, seven, eight guys that had been together a long time. We had built great relationships and to win it with them was unbelievable.”
One of his teammates on that ’99 team was Mike Modano, who could be retiring this summer after spending last season in Detroit.
“He hasn’t decided what he wants to do yet. I was a little surprised he moved last year but I understood it, trying to win one more time,” Hatcher said. “I wouldn’t be surprised either way, if he tried to make another run or not. I played with him for 12 years. If he feels it’s time, it’s time.”
Talking about Modano’s possible retirement led him to think about the circumstances surrounding the end of his playing career in 2008 with Philadelphia.
“I would have loved to play but with my knee, there was no way. I had my knee replaced following the last year of my contract, about two months later,” Hatcher recalled. “It was a little bit easier because my body wasn’t physically able to do it. So there really wasn’t any question about it. That made it easier for me.”
And after a year away from the game, the Flyers offered him a position as a Player Development Coach, a job he just completed his second year in.
“I can’t say enough about [Flyers GM] Paul Holmgren. He understands I have a young family and understands I don’t want to be gone a lot,” Hatcher said. “He’s given me an opportunity to stay in the game and work primarily with the team’s young defensemen and a lot with their minor-league team. That’s what I do. I’ll go scout our draft picks, defensemen only and I’ll also go up to Glens Falls and work with them a couple of times a month. I’m able to make the schedule and I still coach. I’m able to balance really well, so it works out well.”
But it was a gig that it took him a bit of time to settle into.
“I think the first year I did it, I was getting used to what I was supposed to do and last year, I was much better at it. I was much more comfortable I’ll say with it,” Hatcher said. “I also come in here and run the camps in the summer time, the rookie camps in the summer time. It’s been fun so far. I’m learning a lot and it keeps me in the game.”
He currently lives in southern New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia, with his family. Right after hanging his skates up, he ruled out being an NHL assistant coach because of how much he would be away from his family but his tune might have changed a bit on that front.
“I thought about it a long time ago and I said no. I never wanted to coach at the NHL level,” Hatcher said. “But now that I’ve been around it and been into it, it’s something that I would look into. The situation has to be the right situation and all that but it’s definitely something I would look into.”