Two of the most unique, erudite players on the 1999 Stanley Cup-winning Dallas Stars were named to the Hockey Hall of Fame Tuesday.
And while it took both quite a long time to get in, it may have been because they both did things in quiet ways.
The Hall named both Sergei Zubov and Guy Carbonneau to the Class of 2019, ending a wait of six years for Zubov and 16 for Carbonneau. They will be joined by Hayley Wickenheiser and Vaclav Nedomansky in the player's class and also will join 1999 team members already in the Hall: Mike Modano, Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Brett Hull.
[TORONTO AWAITS: Stars greats Zubov, Carbonneau get long-awaited election into Hockey Hall of Fame]
"They were just two of the smartest, hard-working players I've ever been around, and I couldn't be happier," former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said.
"For Carbo, it's an honor for just a tremendous career as a winner, it's a sign of respect for everything he's done. And for Zubie, he was just one of the calmest players I have ever seen with the puck, and maybe one of the most underrated players of his time. It's a great honor for both."
Zubov played in 1,068 regular season games, including 839 with the Stars. He ranks 19th all-time in defensemen scoring in the NHL with 771 points and is the all-time leader for the Stars in goals by a defenseman (111), assists (438) and points (549). He won Stanley Cups in 1994 (Rangers) and 1999 (Stars).
Carbonneau played in 1,318 games with Montreal, St. Louis and Dallas. He was with the Stars for 364 games from 1995-2000 and in that time helped them win 43 playoff games. He won Stanley Cups in 1986 and 1993 (Montreal) and 1999 (Stars) and also won the Selke Trophy three times as outstanding defensive forward in the NHL.
"He was the ultimate competitor," Hitchcock said. "He was a great leader, a guy where the game was never too big for him. He wanted the pressure, he loved those moments."
Both players did their best work in the playoffs, and both were key members of a stretch where Dallas was at its best as a franchise. Former Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig spent plenty of time with both, starting his career in Montreal with Carbonneau and sharing plenty of time with Zubov on a group of Dallas defensemen that included Derian Hatcher, Richard Matvichuk, Darryl Sydor and Shawn Chambers.
Video: Stars legend Zubov elected to Hockey Hall of Fame
Carbonneau was a high-end offensive center coming out of junior hockey and the minors, but he adapted to become a defensive stalwart with the Canadiens.
"I just remember he always felt he could frustrate people," Ludwig said. "Blocking shots, winning faceoffs, he loved to do that stuff because he knew he could. He wanted to be on the power play, too, but he knew he could take away what the other team wanted, and he did that."
Ludwig said the entire group of Stars defensemen were just awed by Zubov's decision-making. The skilled blueliner would play on the power play with his skates outside the zone, so he gained a couple of extra inches in handling the puck.
"He was just so sure of himself," Ludwig said. "For anyone else, we would be afraid to make a mistake because that play was so on the edge. For him, it was, 'This gives me the chance to make a better play.' He was always confident that he was going to do the right thing."
Hitchcock laughed about Zubov's power play strategy.
"Who else does that?" he said. "He was one of a kind."
One of the other fun memories of Zubov was during training camp when strength and conditioning coach J.J. McQueen designed an obstacle course in which players were divided into teams. The first task was to take three hockey sticks, tape them into a triangle, and then carry that triangle throughout the course. Zubov taped his into a pinwheel with the handles sticking out so that it would be easier to handle and could be handed off like a baton. After his team won, other players protested that he didn't make a triangle.
The story goes, Zubov pointed to the middle of the three sticks, and that's where the triangle was formed.
"He was always thinking outside the box," Modano said.
Video: Carbonneau elected for Hall of Fame's 2019 class
McQueen said that he remembers during one stretch of injury rehab, Zubov told him he wanted to get more upper body strength "like Hulk Hogan." McQueen said he helped and Zubov made amazing strides.
"He wasn't big, but he was strong," McQueen said.
While Ludwig added: "He did not want you coming out of the corner with the puck. Whatever it took, whether that was his stick or his upper body strength, he was going to get it away from you."
Modano tweeted out Tuesday:
He said Carbonneau was a perfectionist who helped keep the Stars focused. One story Blake Sloan told was when he completed his first shift in the NHL, he was feeling really good about himself. That was until he sat on the bench next to his veteran linemate and Carbonneau filled his ear with 10 things he needed to do better.
"He was always that way," Modano said. "You could do 19 things right, and he would always be focused on the one thing you did wrong. It was just the way he was wired, but I think that was a huge part of why we won."
The two will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Nov. 18 in Toronto.
"I look at both of them and see how much they helped their teammates, how they held everyone accountable, how smart they were out there," Hitchcock said.
"They both really deserve this."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.