The Franchise Best Series comes to you to dive into the all-time best single season for every organization. This, of course, includes post-season results. Join us for a look back at some of the most memorable moments in each franchise’s history. Here is the Dallas Stars’ best season.
Dallas Stars 1998-99 Season
The early Dallas Stars were led by Mike Modano, plain and simple. He was the first overall pick in the 1989 NHL Draft, selected by the Minnesota North Stars. When the North Stars moved south and ditched the cardinal direction, Modano came with. He wasn’t named the team’s captain until the 2003 season, but he was a clear leader long before then. It’s only fitting then that one of Modano’s best seasons is also one of the Stars best.
The 1998-99 season wasn’t all Modano, though. The team was elite in every way. They showed excellent teamwork throughout the entire season and were headlined by four future Hall-of-Famers: Modan, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ed Belfour, and Brett Hull. Sergei Zubov, although not in the Hall yet, gets an honourable mention.
They went on to win the team’s only Stanley Cup to date. It seems they won it through pure hockey, boiled down to the fundamentals, something Modano always seemed to embody. They had strength in every area of the ice and dominated the NHL as a result.
Previous Off-Season Additions
The Stars actually made a surprising amount of moves in the 1998 summer. The big signing came in the form of Brett Hull, who left the St. Louis Blues and signed a three-year, $17 million deal with Dallas. Hull was coming off a 27-goal, 72 point season in St. Louis, which was the lowest goal total of his time with the team. He still led the Blues in scoring though.
The Stars also made a few trades. They dealt away three draft picks and one player. All the deals saw very minor returns for Dallas, though. They acquired Tony Hrkac from the Nashville Predators, in exchange for future considerations. Hrkac ended up scoring 27 points in the 98-99 season, proving to be a fairly reliable depth-center. They also brought in Aaron Gavey, who didn’t play as many as ten games in the NHL the next year. They didn’t lose much for the unproductive Garvey. The Calgary Flames got Bob Bassen in the other end of the deal. Bassen only tallied three points with the Flames and retired two years later.
Key Storylines Throughout the Year
The team’s top scorer was obviously Modano. Modano averaged just about one point a game in 12 of his 20 NHL seasons, and the 98-99 season was right in the middle of those 12. He totalled almost 30 points more than the second highest scorer, Brett Hull (58). Modano put in 34 goals and 47 assists to combine for an impressive 81 points in the 1998-99 season.
Modano wasn’t the only star of the team, though. Hull netted 58 points at the age of 34-years-old, seemingly desperate for his first Stanley Cup after a career in St. Louis and Calgary. The 98-99 season was his first after 11 seasons with the Blues and he made it count. They also had Hall-of-Famer Joe Nieuwendyk score 55 points, despite being 32 and having 12 NHL seasons under his belt.
The Dallas Stars only made one addition during the year, adding defenseman Doug Lidster to the roster. Lidster only played 17 games in the NHL for the remainder of the season. He didn’t record a single point and went on to retire in the ’99 summer.
The 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs weren’t much different from the regular season, though the numbers were a lot closer. Modano again led the team in scoring with 23 points, an even one point per game average.
Similarly, Nieuwendyk and Hull were also strong presences in the spring. Nieuwendyk netted 21 points, ranking second on the team. Hull had 15 points, placing him fourth.
In the third spot was Jamie Langenbrunner, who seemingly exploded in the playoffs too. After a great regular season where he put up 45 points, he went on to score another 17 in the post-season.
All in all, the Stars top ten scorers in the playoffs, which included Keane, totalled for 138 points in the playoffs; showing how offensively dominant the team was.
In the end, the Stars won their first cup in franchise history. They beat a very good Buffalo Sabres team in a 4-2 series, reminiscent of Buffalo’s loss in 1975 to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Stars were one of the most cohesive teams. They worked together better than any team of their era and went down in history as such. The duo of Modano and Hull proved to be lethal in all ends of the ice. Combined with an elite goalie like Ed Belfour, who went 35-15-9 in the regular season, the Stars were unstoppable. After coming up short after a great 1997-98 season, anything short of a cup would’ve been demolishing for Dallas.
Embed from Getty Images