By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
Derian Hatcher has enjoyed being in a club of one. He's going to enjoy it even more when that club doubles sometime in the next two weeks.
Hatcher, a native of Sterling Heights, Mich., became the first U.S.-born NHL player to captain a team to a Stanley Cup when he helped the Dallas Stars win in 1999.
Thirteen years later, he'll finally have some company, as either the Kings' Dustin Brown (Ithaca, N.Y.) or the Devils' Zach Parise (Minneapolis, Minn.) will join him in the U.S. captain's club.
"It was good to see three of the four guys were Americans left in the [conference] finals there," Hatcher told NHL.com. "I knew it [solo membership] was going to come to an end. At the time it was fun and it was an honor."
Hatcher said it wasn't until the 1999 Stanley Cup Final against the Buffalo Sabres that he even realized the historical significance of him being the first player to hoist the Cup would be.
"I didn't [know it] until sometime into the series against Buffalo, when someone asked me," he said. "Not only was it the first, it was the first non-Canadian. That was before [Detroit's Nicklas] Lidstrom won it. I didn't even know it."
Hatcher also represented the U.S. at two World Cups and two Olympics, and enjoys his place in American hockey history.
"I was the first American-born captain to do it and they can never take that away from me," he said. "It was something special. My kids actually even talk about it now."
Hatcher, who will turn 40 on June 4, currently works for the Philadelphia Flyers as their player development coach. He retired in 2008 after 1,045 NHL games with the Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Flyers. He doesn't know Parise or Brown very well, but added he'll be watching every game.
"Am I rooting for one team or another? Probably not," he said. "I know who I think is going to win, but as far as the rooting interest, no. They're both good teams and they're both there for a reason."
As much fun as it's been to have the time to himself, Hatcher said he's looking forward to welcoming another member to the club.
"It'll all be good," he said. "It'll be good for American hockey and I think it's showing not only where it's come but the future and the path that it's set on."
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK