Friday, June 19, 2009

Dallas Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup title - June 19, 1999

When the Minnesota North Stars moved to Dallas on June 9, 1993 following 26 seasons in the State of Hockey, the franchise headed into uncharted territory. The National Hockey League would set foot in a place where it was unknown if the sport would be embraced. Re-named as simply the Stars, they would have to compete with one of the most high profile franchises in professional sports with the Dallas Cowboys. It was viewed as a tough task in itself at the time.

But with some initial on-ice success and established young stars such as the only remaining link left to the North Stars in assistant captain Mike Modano, fans in Dallas and across North Texas got behind the team and its fan base would grow. Hockey at the grassroots level would bloom and minor league teams would set up shop across the Lone Star State such as the Houston Aeros and San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League to name two examples. A third one would be the Dallas Stars' new AHL affiliate. The Texas Stars will begin play this fall at the new Cedar Park Center, located 17 miles northwest of Austin, Texas. More importantly, high school hockey programs across the Metroplex would be established and kids would play the sport. The Stars would be active in the community with the Dallas Stars Foundation and provide access for fans to use the Dr. Pepper StarCenter ice rinks across the region. The Frisco location is the Stars' official corporate and practice home, 25 miles north of Dallas.

With the building of its fan base and on-ice success in which the Stars made the playoffs in four of their first five seasons in Texas, we focus on the spring of 1999. With a Western Conference Finals loss to the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in mind, the Stars were on a mission to better that previous postseason campaign. They sure did.

Dallas would sweep away the Edmonton Oilers in four straight games, defeated the St. Louis Blues in six contests and then survived a hard-fought seven-game series to knock out the Colorado Avalanche to be the best in the West. So the Stars were in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1991.

Having stopped all 23 shots he faced to break a series deadlock with a 2-0 shutout win over the Buffalo Sabres in Game 5 at Reunion Arena, goaltender Ed Belfour would have to take his game to the next level in order to secure the annual ultimate victory in Game 6 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.

Ten years ago tonight, the Stars took the ice and battled the Sabres for nearly six full periods of hockey. Game 6 did not finish until past 1:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time on June 20, 1999 when before Brett Hull scored with 5:09 left in the third overtime to clinch Dallas' first-ever Stanley Cup championship. Belfour was remarkable in net as he outdueled Sabres goaltender Dominik Hasek with a 53-save performance. Hasek stopped 50 shots, but one too few.

Would you like to see full game highlights of the greatest game in Stars history? You sure can right here. One problem. You won't get to hear Gary Thorne's livecall of Hull's Cup-clinching goal on ESPN, but instead you'll have to settle with Bob Cole's on CBC.

video courtesy: NHL Productions

And if you loved the theme of the Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup championship video, you can see the opening montage featuring one of Metallica's hit songs "Nothing Else Matters". You can hear Thorne's livecall there where he says: "SCORE! SCORE! SCORE! They've won the Stanley Cup! Deep in the heart of Texas, the Stars are shining!".

video courtesy: NHL Productions

During the 2007 NHL All-Star festivities, the Stars held a reunion of the players from that championship team in front of a large crowd gathered in the AT&T Plaza outside American Airlines Center. This was the last time all the players were together at the same time.

video courtesy: Dallas Stars

All in all, it is certainly a wonderful memory to reflect back to for Dallas Stars fans as 10 years ago tonight was the greatest night in their team's history.

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