Classy, clutch Joe Nieuwendyk enters Hall

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
11:00
PM CT
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun takes a look at the career of Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday.

Here's an excerpt from LeBrun's story:
On Dec. 19, 1995, Nieuwendyk was shipped to Dallas in a deal that sent Corey Millen and a prospect namedJarome Iginla to Calgary.

"We had some good draft picks coming down the line, like Jarome Iginla," former Stars GM Bob Gainey recently told ESPN.com about the Nieuwendyk acquisition. "There was a decision made that we would try and speed up that program, and see if we could enhance our team as we tried to establish ourselves in that new hockey community in Dallas."

The transition wasn't easy at first for Nieuwendyk.

"I really got in on the ground floor in Dallas," he said. "Hockey wasn't popular in those early years. We didn't have a very good team, and that first half-year I was there, I was thinking, 'Oh my God.' I had come from Calgary, where winning was everything. You go to Dallas where people were still learning what offsides were. It was a challenge and a very difficult transition."

But Gainey would bring in more big names, and the Stars became an NHL powerhouse in the late 1990s. They went on to beat the Buffalo Sabres in the 1999 Stanley Cup finals to capture their first and only Cup. Nieuwendyk was sensational that spring, posting 11 goals and 21 playoff points en route to the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. He was as motivated as ever.

"To ultimately win down there was an incredible experience because we had stolen some of the Dallas Cowboys' thunder. People fell in love with a bunch of blue-collar guys who were playing hard," Nieuwendyk said. "For me, it went back to the year before in the playoffs in 1998 with [Bryan] Marchment taking me into the boards. I miss those whole playoffs [he played only one game after the hit blew out his right ACL]. So the next year, it just really drove me.

"I think all the lessons I learned over my career, seeing how much it meant to our veteran guys in Calgary and I hadn't had a sniff at it over 10 years, you realized it wasn't easy. I was really focused for that playoff run."


The rest of the story is here.

Mark Stepneski

ESPNDallas.com
Mark Stepneski joined ESPNDallas.com in July 2010. A former news/special projects producer for KXAS-TV, he has run the Andrew's Dallas Stars Page website since 1997.

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