Joe Nieuwendyk always knew he wanted to be a hockey player. Growing up in Whitby, a town just east of Toronto, he dreamed of scoring the big overtime goal in an NHL game and winning the Stanley Cup.
Joe did end up scoring several overtime goals (seven, to be exact), he also won the Stanley Cup.
Three times. With three different teams. In three different decades.
Nieuwendyk played seven seasons for the Dallas Stars, helping the franchise capture the Stanley Cup in 1999 and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the most valuable player during the playoffs, after leading the Stars in scoring during the 1999 playoffs. He played for five separate teams (Calgary, Dallas, New Jersey, Toronto and Florida) and won the Stanley Cup in three different decades with three different teams (Calgary 1988, Dallas 1999, New Jersey 2003) during his career. Nieuwendyk won the NHL’s Calder Trophy (Best rookie) in 1987-88 and the King Clancey Memorial Trophy (Leadership) in 1994-95. He skated in 1,247 career NHL games over 19 seasons, collecting 1,126 points (564 goals, 562 assists).
"I don't know how to rank being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Nieuwendyk. “I just think you reflect on it more now. That's what I find myself doing now, thinking about all the people who've helped me along the way, from my parents to the ones I played with in the minors. You go through your entire career and you don't go through it thinking 'wow, I hope I make it to the Hall of Fame one year.' You just go through each year and do the best you can, play as hard as you can, and three-four years later, you get the fortunate news that you're going in, and it's hard to absorb. It is pretty special, though."
Among all of the great seasons during his career, Nieuwendyk says that his time as a player in Dallas will always be special.
"That was a fun time,” he said. “It’s a reflection of the special time we all shared together in the late '90s when we went about building that championship team. People can look back, and I do as a player, just realize how fortunate I was to be a part of a special group."
Nieuwendyk represented Canada at the Olympics in 1998 and 2002, winning the gold medal in 2002. He skated in 442 games for Dallas, scoring 178 goals and 162 assists for 340 points and is still ranked tied for 17th in all-time Dallas Stars scoring. Nieuwendyk appeared in 158 career NHL playoff games, posting 66 goals and 50 assists for 116 points and currently ranks eighth in all-time Dallas Stars’ playoff goals with 25. He scored 20-or-more goals in 15 of his 19 seasons in the NHL and scored over 30 eight times. Nieuwendyk now leads the Dallas Stars front office after being named general manager of the club on May 31, 2009.
Nieuwendyk will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with former Dallas Star Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe.
“I am humbled and honored to be voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Nieuwendyk. “I’d like to thank all of my former coaches, teammates and supporters over the years, especially my family. I wouldn’t be here today without them. I’d also like to thank the fans – they have always been an important inspiration over the years.
“Every player does their best year after year and strives to play at a very high level. I truly love the game and love to compete, and I’m pleased to be honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame.”
The induction ceremony is scheduled to take place on Monday, November 14th, 2011. Nieuwendyk and Belfour join Brett Hull (class of 2009) as the only Dallas Stars to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.