In 1996, a player and a team were at a crossroads, booking to better one another’s situation.
For the Dallas Stars, fresh off of missing the playoffs for the first time in Dallas history.
Sergei Zubov was recently traded to a team and quickly found it wasn’t the best fit.
That summer, Zubov signed with the Stars, and the future Hall of Famer never looked back.
After missing the playoffs in 1996, the Stars were looking to upgrade their roster. So they made a trade that landed them one of the best defensemen in NHL history. But their trade partner needed something in return.
The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Stars made a trade that would benefit both teams. After Pittsburgh got upset by the Florida Panthers in the ’96 Eastern Conference finals, they figured they needed more muscle on defense.
So the Pens and the Stars made a direct, man-for-man trade that summer. The Stars traded captain Derian Hatcher’s brother, Kevin Hatcher, to Pittsburgh for Zubov. A trade that both teams were satisfied with. While both Dallas and Pittsburgh checked their boxes, it was Dallas who won the trade, and it helped secure them the ultimate prize three seasons later.
Party Like It’s 1999
During his time in Dallas, Zubov got to enjoy getting his second Stanley Cup ring. It is undoubtedly the biggest highlight of Zubov’s 12 years in Dallas.
While the defenseman was one of the biggest reasons for the Stars winning it all in 1999.
Former Dallas assistant coach Rick Wilson, who coached the team’s defense, talked about the brilliance that was number 56 and his brilliant mind.
“I don’t know that we even used the term Hockey IQ at the time, but his understanding of the game was extremely high,” said Rick Wilson, former Stars assistant coach who ran the defense when Zubov was with Dallas.
“He saw things as well as anyone when he was on the ice. It wasn’t only a creative mind; it was sort of semi-genius. So then it was a matter of just figuring out how he could help us the most and how he could help himself play his best hockey. That took a little while.”
Dallas Team Records
To date, Zubov owns the most recognizable records amongst all Dallas defensemen. Zubov holds the Dallas record for points during regular season play with 553. He also holds the team record for points by a defenseman during the postseason, tallying 72.
Fun facts about Zubov’s career prior to Dallas: he led the New York Rangers during their 1994 Stanley Cup campaign with 89 points during the regular season as a defenseman. He also holds an NHL record for Russian-born defensemen on that 89-point tally.
Zubov has always been an action-over-words kind of guy, which is a big reason why he didn’t always get the recognition he deserved. It also took the Hockey Hall of Fame until 2019 to indict him. Another long past due acknowledgment came from the team he finished his NHL playing career with a jersey retirement
On Friday, January 28th, the Stars retired Zubov’s number 56. He was the sixth player in franchise history to receive this accolade.
Zubov retired as a Star and concluded his speech with a simple yet resounding message to the fans.
“I will forever be proud to call myself a Dallas Star.”