Hockey is traditionally a cold climate sport, and there is no secret that the northern regions in North America fare better. Sill, there are plenty of NHL franchises playing down in the warmer states. Some of those warm weather teams have won the Stanley Cup despite the odds being against them. This is the story of how the Dallas Stars fought their way to victory in the 1998-99 season, and how 20 years of hurt has followed.
Before moving to Dallas in 1993, the franchise was known as the Minnesota North Stars. The franchise was owned by Norman Green who was convinced to move to Dallas by former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach. The Stars were on the move, and the Reunion Arena became their new home.
Attendances were at an all-time low in Minnesota, so the Stars needed to move on and few could have predicted how successful the move would be. Just five seasons after leaving home, the Stars would win their one and only Stanley Cup.
Building for a championship
Tom Hicks became the new owner in 1995 and immediately began prepping the team to win the Stanley Cup. Several star players were signed over the next few seasons until the Stars had a team capable of challenging for success. Goaltender Ed Belfour joined alongside Darryl Sydor, Sergei Zubov, and Joe Nieuwendyk. The money had been spent, and in 1998 it was time to push for glory.
Time to shine
The Stars had built themselves a team worthy of winning a championship, now it was up to the players to make it happen. Things couldn’t have gone any better during 1998 and 1999 as the Stars eased through the regular season. The Stars ended up on top of their conference with 114 points, 16 more than their closest rivals. Now the Stars would have top seeding in the playoffs, and they had to make it count.
The Stars went up against Edmonton in the first round, easing to a 4-0 win in the first series. Things would get tougher in the next round as they battled to a 4-2 series win over St. Louis, and a 4-3 victory over Colorado in the conference final. The Stanley Cup final placed them against the unfancied Buffalo, and the Stars won the series 4-2 to become first-time winners. It brought glory to Dallas but the good days wouldn’t last.
The Stars remained one of the strongest teams in the league for the next few years but couldn’t recapture the Stanley Cup. Tom Hicks began to have financial troubles late in the ‘00s, and it brought in a barren period. The Stars have now only reached the playoffs twice in the last ten seasons, only getting as far as the second round once.
Dallas have become known for blowing leads, and that kind of play has seen them struggle to recreate their initial success. Despite that night their fans will never forget, there have been plenty of seasons since that will not live long in the memory.