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Stars teammates Carbonneau, Zubov going into Hockey Hall of Fame together

Forward, defenseman won Cup in 1999 after being champions with Canadiens, Rangers

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / NHL.com Columnist

Nineteen years since his last NHL game, Guy Carbonneau said that not getting a call to tell him he'd been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame "is not something that keeps you awake" at night.

But the call that came to Carbonneau on Tuesday from Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald might well cost him a little sleep for at least a little while.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Selke Trophy winner, voted as the best defensive forward in the NHL, will be inducted Nov. 18 with three other players in the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2019. Carbonneau will join Canada women's icon Hayley Wickenheiser, defenseman Sergei Zubov and forward Vaclav Nedomansky as players enshrined, along with Jim Rutherford and Jerry York in the Builders category.

Carbonneau was a brilliant two-way talent with the Canadiens, winning the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986 and 1993, then a third time with the Dallas Stars in 1999. The native of Sept-Iles, Quebec, was a tremendous offensive player with major-junior Chicoutimi, scoring 182 points (72 goals, 110 assists) during his final season in 1979-80. By then he had been selected by the Canadiens, in the third round (No. 44) of the 1979 NHL Draft. After two seasons with the Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate in Nova Scotia, he arrived in the NHL, his game quickly reshaped into more of a checking role by coach Jacques Lemaire, a strong proponent of the defensive game.

Carbonneau would become one of the best two-way forwards of his day, and he embraced the role, playing center between wings Bob Gainey, one of the most formidable two-way players in NHL history, and the rugged Chris Nilan.

"I think it was the same way in the '60s, and '70s, and it's the same thing today," Carbonneau said of being strong with or without the puck. "If you have players who can do just one thing, it's tougher to build a winning team. You need some players to be able to evolve and do a couple things on the ice.

"People thought when I became a defensive player that I'd sacrifice a lot of offense. I see it the other way. It gave me chances to put numbers on the board. I look at guys now like Patrice Bergeron (of the Boston Bruins), who's the next Bob Gainey. He's not only able to play well defensively and win face-offs, but he's able to get some really good points on the board."

Eleven years after Carbonneau's NHL debut, Zubov arrived from Russia to begin his career with the New York Rangers in 1992-93, overcoming the hurdles of language and culture to chart a remarkable career.

The path of the two players would intersect in Dallas in 1996-97, and together in 1999 they'd win the Stanley Cup -- Zubov's second, having won with the Rangers in 1994, Carbonneau's third in his penultimate NHL season.

Zubov recalled having first walked through the Hockey Hall of Fame years before, wide-eyed at the hockey history showcased.

"Back then I couldn't even think of or dream that one day I would have a chance to be part of it," he said, thanking the Hall's selection committee and "everybody who was beside me in this long journey."

 

[RELATED: Carbonneau, Wickenheiser lead Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2019]

 

Zubov was in New York on Tuesday when he took a call from McDonald and John Davidson, the head of the selection committee and new president of the Rangers.

"I phoned JD yesterday and left a message," Zubov said, later suggesting it was just to try to arrange a meeting over coffee. "Honestly, I didn't expect a phone call from Toronto, but [Davidson] was on the line and he got me speechless. It's one of those moments. I think through the career, you hope that there are many of those moments -- Olympics, Stanley Cups. But this one is truly special. You kind of realize that you've done something in your life that you can be proud of. Never look back. It's something special that you can't explain with words."

The mutual admiration society kicked in 37 minutes into a 45-minute conference call, Carbonneau and Zubov singing each other's praises as teammates with the Stars.

"When I got to Dallas, the team was kind of rebuilding (under GM Gainey)," Carbonneau recalled. "I think that Bob's idea was to bring in character and some talent. We already had guys like Mike Modano and Derian Hatcher. When Sergei came in and Brett Hull came in, that put us way on top of the NHL pole and gave us a chance to win.

"Zubie would always find you somewhere. He was a great passer and he controlled the puck. I've won three Stanley Cups, and the guys you win with, they're always a little bit closer."

Video: Modano on Carbonneau, Zubov getting Hall of Fame call

Zubov spoke of the great memories he had playing 16 NHL seasons and the bonds he forged with Carbonneau and teammates in Dallas, congratulating the latter on his election.

There were other names in the mix when the selection committee met this week, and Zubov gave a nod to all of them.

"There are many different guys who deserve to be here, and I'm just glad that it's happened with my phone number," he said.

Carbonneau was feeling likewise, not having ever lost sleep over whether he'd get the call.

On Tuesday, the two former teammates and champions expected to be on their phones for hours, and already they were making plans for their reunion at the Hockey Hall of Fame in a little less than five months.

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