Dallas Stars fans can find many similarities between the teams of 2003 and 2024, 21 years ago, not just during the regular season but also in the playoffs.

From Stanley Cup hopes to American stars playing in Dallas, there is much to dive into.

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Both Dallas clubs finished first in their divisions (Pacific and Central) and earned the number one seed in the West, but they did not quite win the President’s Trophy. Both teams were also in the top ten in goal scoring and goals allowed. The 2003 Stars were sixth in goals for and third in GA. The 2024 team was third and eighth, respectively.

Both teams had high Stanley Cup hopes. However, they both ran into goalies they had trouble solving.  While J.S. Giguere was known to be a great goalie in her s day, the Oilers’ Stuart Skinner turned his game around at the worst possible time for the Stars.

Playoff Outcomes

Coincidentally, both Stars teams were eliminated by teams who would go on to lose in seven games in the Stanley Cup finals.  Despite being given the Conn Smythe Award.  J.S. Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now the Anaheim Ducks), and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid.

It’s also interesting to note that both Stars teams faced the Oilers. The 2003 series had a happy ending in the first round, and the 2024 matchup with Edmonton ended in a not-so-happy way.

Following the end of their respective seasons, both Stars iterations saw two American icons play their last games.  One was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, while the other will join him someday.

For Derian Hatcher, the nature of the beast, which is the business side of the sport, struck in Dallas.  Former Stars’ owner Tom Hicks was outbid by the Detroit Red Wings. Despite the setback, Hicks had no regrets. Hatcher, the U.S. Hall of Famer, had his career high in 1999 when the physical defensive defenseman became the first U.S.-born captain to hoist the Cup.


This summer, Joe Pavelski played his last game for the Stars. Aging caught up to Pavs. After an underperformance in the postseason, Pavelski announced he was taking at least one year off. However, the door is open for Pav to join the Stars’ organization for a front office position. One day, Pavelski will join Hatcher in the U.S. Hall and maybe the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, too.

So, while the two American icons both tasted defeat in similar fashions, their exit from Dallas happened entirely differently.

There were some differences, too.

While the 2024 Stars were better known for offensive depth, the 2003 team was more of a physical team.  The Stars of 21 years ago had a physical edge that the most recent Stars team would’ve liked to see in those last two games vs Edmonton.

In 2003, the team included not only Hatcher but also other tough guys such as Brenden Morrow, Richard Matvichuk, and, of course, Aaron Downey.
The fight was one of the most iconic in the game’s history, with a Star on the winning side of the abbreviated scrap.

PHOTO: Hockey DB

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