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Players and Games of the Decade

by Seamus O'Callahan / Dallas Stars
Wow, can you believe that it is almost the end of 2009?! Time does fly, and this new year of 2010 brings with it a new decade. Not really, since 2010 should technically be considered the last year of the "ott's." But everyone else seems to designate the 9 year in a decade the last one, so I'm not going to fight it.

With that, when one takes a look back at the last 10 years of Dallas Stars hockey, there have been a lot of memorable moments, games and players.

I gave it some thought and here are my picks for the Top Ten players and games of the decade for the Dallas Stars:

Top Ten Dallas Stars Players of the Decade

1. Mike Modano. Every list in Dallas Stars lore should start with Modano, and this one is no exception. He is the face of the franchise and reached a lot of huge milestones this decade: all-time leading scorer for the franchise, all-time American scorer in goals and points. He's been here for every big win and every game in Dallas Stars history. He's also played more years in Dallas than any professional athlete in the history of the city (17, including this current one).

2. Sergei Zubov. Yeah, remember him? He is a common denominator when looking at all of the great years that the Stars have had. He may be the most underrated player in NHL history. Really. He was one of a kind and the Stars were lucky to have Zubie on the blue line for so long.

3. Brenden Morrow. The Captain is the heart and soul of this team and has been for several years now. He came upon the scene as an NHL pro as the decade started and finishes it as one of the best leaders in the entire league. Morrow was the catalyst for the memorable run through the playoffs in 2008.

4. Marty Turco. He's the all-time winningest goalie in Stars history and that is saying something when you look at the annals. Like Morrow, he came upon the scene as the decade started and took the reins as the Stars' number one goalie in 2002.

5. Ed Belfour. Some might say that Belfour is ranked a bit high in this list because he only played with the Stars in this decade through 2002. But the truth is, the Stars never would have made it their second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals in 2000 if it weren't for him. Dallas faced a Colorado squad that was probably better than them and Belfour simply said, "no."

6. Jere Lehtinen. Another of the heart and soul players, Lehtinen is one of the greatest two-way players this league has ever seen. He won his third Selke Trophy in 2003 and his health has probably kept him from gaining a fourth. Even today, when healthy, he makes little plays to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone that the common fan probably doesn't even see. He's one of the best of all-time.

7. Stephane Robidas. His story is one of hard work and perseverance. Once considered a bubble player to even play in the NHL, he has proven to be an everyday defenseman, and a very good one at that. He signed a contract extension this past September and has earned every penny of it.

8. Jason Arnott. Here's a player the Stars would have loved to have kept when he became a free agent in 2006 but he got an offer he could not refuse from Nashville. A powerful center who could score at any time when he wanted to, he was a big part of very successful seasons with the Stars, including two division championships in 2003 and 2006.

9. Mike Ribeiro. Has really made a name for himself over the last three seasons after being dealt to the Stars from Montreal. His playmaking ability is magical some nights and he has made some big ones over the years.

10. Philippe Boucher. Was as solid a defenseman as you'll find in this league, signing with the Stars in 2002. He earned an All-Star berth in 2007 and played hard every night. He was another reason that Dallas won division championships in 2003 and 2006. He retired this past summer after winning the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh.

Honorable mentions (I would have loved to include these guys in my top 10):
Stu Barnes
Steve Ott
Bill Guerin
Darryl Sydor
Brad Richards
Loui Eriksson

Top Ten Games of the Decade

There were a lot of games played by the Dallas Stars this decade (816 regular season and playoffs to be exact with three more to come in 2009). But let’s face it – the top ten games were all played in the post-season. They just mean more. After some thought, here is my list for the top ten games for the Stars from Jan. 1, 2000 – present:

1.    Game Six – 2008 Western Semifinals vs. San Jose Sharks: Dallas 2, San Jose 1 (4 OT) – A no-brainer. Brenden Morrow capped an incredible night at American Airlines Center at 1:24 am, sending the Stars to the Western Conference Finals in the process.
2.    Game Five – 2000 Stanley Cup Finals at New Jersey Devils: Dallas 1, New Jersey 0 (3 OT) – Vintage Ed Belfour and Martin Brodeur. The two combined to make 88 saves before Mike Modano ended the night with a great tip, keeping the Stars alive in the series.
3.    Game Seven – 2000 Western Conference Finals vs. Colorado: Dallas 3, Colorado 2 – The Stars return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive year against a very good Avalanche squad. Ray Bourque hits the post in the final seconds.
4.    Game Six – 2000 Stanley Cup Finals vs. New Jersey Devils: New Jersey 2, Dallas 1 (2 OT) – Jason Arnott’s goal in double overtime won the Stanley Cup for New Jersey. The Stars did not yield lightly, making the Devils earn it, as Ed Belfour stopped 43-of-45 shots.
5.    Game One – 2003 Western Conference Semifinals vs. Anaheim: Anaheim 4, Dallas 3 (5 OT) – A second round loss makes it into the top five? Yes indeed. This marathon still ranks as the longest game in Stars history. Nearly 141 minutes of hockey in five hours and 52 minutes: 110 combined saves between J.S. Giguere and Marty Turco. Petr Sykora won it on a bang-bang play in the first minute of the fifth overtime.
6.    Game Five – 2007 Western Conference Quarterfinals at Vancouver: Dallas 1, Vancouver 0 (OT)Brenden Morrow’s power play goal in overtime kept the Stars alive in the series that eventually went seven games. Both Marty Turco and Roberto Luongo were brilliant until Morrow’s goal gave Dallas new life.
7.    Game Six – 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Anaheim: Dallas 4, Anaheim 1 – The Stars got the monkey off their back with a playoff series win for the first time in five years. Dallas trailed, 1-0, entering the third and scored two goals in the first few minutes to take a 2-1 lead and never looked back. It was the beginning of a long fun run through the post-season.
8.    Game One – 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinals at San Jose: Dallas 3, San Jose 2 (OT) – Mike Modano and Brenden Morrow each scored before the Sharks tied it with just 3:02 left in regulation to force overtime. Morrow’s bomb from Mattias Norstrom 4:39 into OT ended it and gave the Stars the edge in the series.
9.    Game Three – 2001 Western Conference Quarterfinals at Edmonton: Dallas 3, Edmonton 2 (OT) – Benoit Hogue’s goal with just 12 seconds remaining in the first overtime gave Dallas a 3-2 win and a 2-1 lead in the series. A loss would have given the Oilers momentum with a chance to go up, 3-1, in Game Four in Edmonton. Dallas went on to win the series, 4-2.
10.    Game Three – 2004 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Colorado: Dallas 4, Colorado3 (OT)Steve Ott scored his first-ever overtime game-winner 2:11 into the extra stanza. Scott Young had scored with just two seconds left in the second period to cut the lead to 3-2, and Philippe Boucher tied the game with 4:27 left in regulation to set up Ott’s heroics.

Happy New Year, Stars fans! Here's looking forward to new moments and (some) new players in the decade ahead.

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