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Stars' run to 1999 Cup a career highlight Carbonneau will always remember

The three-time champion reflects before being honored Saturday as part of 25th Anniversary Reunion Nights

by Scott Burnside @OvertimeScottB /

The last time we saw Guy Carbonneau, he was walking across the carpet at American Airlines Center, helping former general manager and coach Bob Gainey carry the Frank J. Selke Trophy to the stage erected at center ice to honor former Stars great Jere Lehtinen.

It was fitting, of course, that Carbonneau and Gainey transported the trophy that Lehtinen won three times, because between the two of them, they won the Selke seven times (three for Carbonneau and four for Gainey).

It's also fitting that Carbonneau, a three-time Stanley Cup winner including the 1999 Cup win in Dallas, will return to the AAC for his own night of memories on Saturday against Chicago.

We got a chance to catch up with him a few days prior to his return to Dallas.

Scott Burnside: The Lehtinen ceremony seems like a good place to start with this. What was it like for you to be part of that evening?

Guy Carbonneau: First, it was a great honor just to be asked by the Stars and Jere to be there on the same stage. I had a good time there and a great time in Dallas. But it was only five years of my career, so I wasn't there that long. But to be asked to be there, and be part of the ceremony, and not just be there and sitting in the stands was something that was really awesome. Those are the things that you really remember. There's a lot of things that happen in the course of your career on the ice, off the ice, good things, bad things -- what we had in Dallas the five years I was there was really special. I've met some great, great people over my career, but the years that I won, or the years that you go far in the playoffs, those are the people you kind of connect with a lot more, because you go through a lot with those guys. You learn to appreciate who they are."

SB: So, what are you doing these days? Some broadcast analysis?

GC: I'm back in Montreal and I work for RDS, which is like a French TSN. I do some of the games and then we have a talk show at night. I try to stay involved a little bit and still have time to travel and go and see my daughters (both of whom are in Dallas).

SB: Since you've retired (after the 2000 season), you've done some coaching and some media work.

GC: A lot of things (he said laughing).

SB: Do you like the media end of things? Because for some guys, that's a hard transition.

GC: This is what I've done since I was 16 years (old) playing kind of pro, professionally. I played four years of juniors and I started my career in professionals. For more than half of my life, hockey was part of my life from Monday to Sunday, and September to June. I always say that at the end of my career, staying in hockey or doing something in hockey would be perfect. And I had the chance after I retired, I had the chance to come back to Montreal, work in the office, work behind the bench, I went back to Dallas and worked with Doug (Armstrong) which was awesome, until I got that great offer from Bob (Gainey) to come back and coach (in Montreal). That didn't work. But I got thrown right away in the T.V. things. It's something that's really fun. It keeps me connected to hockey. I work with great people. It's hard to get out of. I wish I would still be coaching. That to me would be the second best thing, but it didn't happen so I'm happy where I'm at.

SB: Would you like another opportunity to coach in the NHL?

GC: I never really shut the door or closed the door. But I go through life like I did in hockey. On the ice, maybe I was a different player. I wanted to be the leader. But I wish I would have had another chance to coach. My experience was just a three-year period -- not a lot of time to kind of show what I could do. I'm not the salesman for myself. I never really put myself out there. Part of it is my fault, but I always say they know what I can do, they know who I am, if they want to call me. You need to work with people that you trust and people that you enjoy every day, so I say if they want to work with me, they know where to find me.

SB: I see how hard Ken Hitchcock and his staff work, the hours they put in, and it's not a job you can coast at.

GC: It's a tough job now. It's a lot of hours, it's a lot of days. Once you start, you get stuck into it. But it's a lot of fun. I had to get up 6:30 every morning, and I enjoyed getting up in the morning. I don't do that anymore. I don't get up at 6 or 6:30.

SB: You went to St. Louis before you came to Dallas. That was in the lockout year, 1994-95. Did you know that was going to happen?

GC: No. Well, I kind of knew because I was part of the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players' Association). So I was the Vice President of the NHLPA. So I had an idea of what was going on. I think that was part of it -- one of the reasons I got traded. Obviously, I was 34 years old. The year before, I had a bad knee, so that didn't help. But also, the fact I was on the committee with the NHLPA, and being in Montreal with the media here, I'm sure that they didn't want to have that in the papers every day, so they decided to make a trade.

SB: You were one of the guys who was a part of the fabric of that Montreal team -- a guy that had really been identified with the Canadiens. That must have been a difficult transition for you.

GC: I was the captain of the team. We just won the Stanley Cup in '93, a year before that. I just built a house thinking I was going to be there for the rest of my career. In the middle of the summer before training camp, I hear the stories that they traded me to St. Louis for Jim Montgomery. No disrespect for Jim Montgomery, but it was like, 'What? Oh my God, they gave me away.' It wasn't easy. But I played one year in St. Louis and then got traded to Dallas, played there for five more years. My daughters are still there. I met some different people. I think at the end of the day, it was a great experience. Was it what I wanted? No. But I think at the end of the day, it came out really good.

SB: Did you sign with Dallas or were you traded?

GC: I signed with St. Louis for three years, and then at the end of the year, I think the connection with me and (Blues head coach) Mike Keenan was not really, really good. And it just happened that in Dallas, Bob Gainey was there. He was trying to build a winning team. Bob Bassen broke his leg in training camp. So I got a phone call from Mike Keenan and said, 'Listen, Bob Gainey called me. They want you in Dallas. What are you thinking?' And I was out the door. I didn't even really think about it.

SB: It did seem like if you were going to go somewhere and finish out your career -- and have a meaningful part to close out a career -- Dallas might have been the perfect place for you. I don't know if it felt like that in the beginning.

GC: It ended up that it was the best thing for me to do. But going to St. Louis was not a bad thing. They really wanted me. I was an assistant captain, they wanted me for my leadership and things like that. At the end of the day, it was not really what I was expecting. There's a time in your life or your career -- I mean, money's always fun -- but you're allowed to make a choice and when they asked me, you have a chance to go to Dallas, I had to take some money off my contract, because they were not ready to pay me that kind of money. But I knew playing in Dallas, I was going to be able to get it back because of the taxes. I knew Bob Gainey was there. I knew Craig Ludwig was there. I knew a bunch of the guys that were there already, and I knew that he was trying to build a winner. And so, I never really thought about it. I just said yes right away and it turned out really well. I think for maybe not the first year, I was there, but the other four years, we were probably one of the best teams in the NHL.

SB: What were your first impressions? What was the transition like to come into a market that was still very new when you came there?

GC: Having played 12 years in Montreal in probably the biggest market -- not the market, but the most media coverage -- we have the French and English TV, radio, papers. So going to St. Louis was a little shock, but going to Dallas was a bigger shock. I remember for the first couple of years, there was probably 12,000 to 13,000 people, 13,000 to 14,000 people in the stands. I mean, we were just getting started. For me, it was a lot different. After practice or after games, there were maybe one or two reporters in the room. It was like, 'Hey, I'm here, I can talk.' But as the years went on, obviously, the Cowboys, the Mavericks and the Rangers were not doing well, and we were starting to get really popular and everything changed. But it changed for the best. The organization was ready for that. I think the players really enjoyed, not the attention, but enjoyed the fact were getting on the right track and that we were trying to do something special.

SB: There is something magical about winning a Stanley Cup in Montreal, and I don't know if you ever compare winning in Montreal and Dallas, but that 1999 Cup win is still something that is important in the City of Dallas. Where does that fit in your career?

GC: Being drafted in the NHL is one thing, playing your first game in the NHL is another thing. Winning your first Cup is something really special. I had the chance to do that here in Montreal. But we were the 23rd Stanley Cup here in Montreal. It was still a lot of fun. You go through 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -- and then you jump on the ice, and there are so many memories that come out of your head. '93 was more fun, too. You learn to enjoy it. The first one, I woke up a couple of days later I was, 'Wow.' I couldn't remember if I touched the Cup or not. But Dallas -- Dallas was the first one. It was something that had never happened before. It was something really new and it was not just a fluke. The year before, we had a great year. That year, '99, we won the Cup, and a year later we lost in the Final. And we became the talk of the town. I remember going from not being known to you go to the grocery store, and not like Montreal, but close to it.

SB: I know it's a cliché, but there is something about that team, and that group, that'll never go away for you guys, and it'll never go away for the city.

GC: It's definitely something all of us remember, and we'll always remember. I met Brett (Hull) when I played in St. Louis. But I didn't know Mike Modano, I didn't know Derian Hatcher, I didn't know Richard Matvichuk and those guys. Now, they're my friends. There's always something that comes out of playing with some people and winning with some people.

SB: Okay, final one. When I chatted with Brenden Morrow, I asked him about what it was like dating and then going on to marry your daughter, Anne-Marie. And I've got ask you the same thing, what was that like for you?

GC: The fact that I had a chance to meet him before he did training camp, I learned who he was at that time. He had a girlfriend, she had a boyfriend, but they met at Christmas and then I think at the Super Bowl party. At my house, I heard Brenden's name a lot, and at the rink, I heard Anne-Marie's name a lot. It was kind of fun for me a little. Brenden got abused a lot from his teammates because of that. I think because I had the chance to know him for a couple of months, I knew he was a great kid. I think I went one day to him and said, 'Listen, I know this is going to happen, so it's okay,' and I think that day, he called her and she was out of the house. That was it.

Guy Carbonneau returns to American Airlines Center on Saturday, where he will be honored throughout the Stars' game against Chicago as part of the team's 25th Anniversary Reunion Nights. For more information, and to purchase tickets, click here.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter at @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his Burnside Chats podcast here.

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