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The Minnesota North Stars were a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 26 seasons, from 1967 to 1993. The North Stars played their home games at the Met Centermarker in Bloomingtonmarker, and the team's colors for most of its history were green, yellow gold and white. The North Stars played 2,062 regular season games and made the NHL playoffs fifteen times, including two Stanley Cup Finals appearances. In the fall of 1993, the franchise moved to Dallas, Texasmarker, and is now known as the Dallas Stars.

History

Beginnings

Met Center, home of the Minnesota North Stars.
On March 11, 1965, NHL President Clarence Campbell announced that the league would expand to twelve teams from six through the creation of a new six-team division for the 1967–68 season. In response to Campbell's announcement, a partnership of nine men, led by Walter Bush Jr. and John Driscoll, was formed to seek a franchise for the Twin Cities area of Minnesotamarker. Their efforts were successful as the NHL awarded one of six expansion franchises to Minnesota on February 9, 1966. In addition to Minnesota, the five other franchises were Californiamarker (Oaklandmarker), Los Angelesmarker, Philadelphiamarker, Pittsburghmarker and St. Louismarker. The "North Stars" name was announced on May 25, 1966, following a public contest. The name is derived from the state's motto "L'Étoile du Nord", which is a French phrase meaning "The Star of the North". Months after the naming of the team, ground was broken on October 3, 1966, for a new hockey arena in Bloomington, Minnesota. The home of the North Stars, Metropolitan Sports Center, was built in 12 months at a cost of US$7 million. The arena was ready for play for the start of the 1967–68 NHL season, but portions of the arena's construction had not been completed. Spectator seats were in the process of being installed as fans arrived at the arena for the opening home game on October 21, 1967.

Early years

On October 11, 1967, the North Stars played the first game in franchise history on the road against the St. Louis Blues, another expansion team. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. On October 21, 1967, the North Stars played their first home game against the California Seals. The North Stars won 3-1. The team achieved success early as it was in first place in the Western Division halfway through the 1967–68 season. Tragedy struck the team during the first season on January 13, 1968, when forward Bill Masterton suffered a fatal hit during a game against the Seals at Met Center. Skating towards the Seals goal across the blue line, Masterton fell backwards, hitting the back of his head on the ice, rendering him unconscious. He never regained consciousness and died on January 15, 1968, at the age of 29, two days after the accident. Doctors described the cause of Masterton's death as a "massive brain injury". To this date, this remains the only death as a result of an injury during a game in NHL history. The North Stars retired his jersey, and later that year, hockey writers established the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy which would be given annually to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Following the news of Masterton's death, the North Stars lost the next six games.

The North Stars would achieve success in their first year of existence by finishing in fourth place in the Western division with a record of 27-32-15, and advancing to the playoffs. During the 1968 playoffs, the North Stars defeated the Los Angeles Kings in seven games after losing the first two in the series. In the next round, the Western Finals, the North Stars faced the St. Louis Blues in a series which would also go to a seventh game. Minnesota was one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals, but in the deciding game, they lost in double overtime.

The team was led in the early years by the goaltending duo Lorne "Gump" Worsley and Cesare Maniago. Defenseman Ted Harris was the North Stars captain. The first Stars team also included high-scoring winger Bill Goldsworthy and other quality players such as Barry Gibbs, Jude Drouin, J. P. Parise, Danny Grant, Lou Nanne, Tom Reid and Dennis Hextall.

By 1978, the North Stars were in financial difficulty. Fan interest was in decline after the team missed the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons, and the league feared that the franchise was on the verge of folding. However, in 1978, the team was bought by Gordon and George Gund, already owners of the troubled Cleveland Barons franchise, who were permitted to merge the two teams in an unprecedented arrangement. The merged team would remain as the Minnesota North Stars, but assume the Barons' place in the Adams Division. The recently retired Nanne was named as general manager, and a number of the Barons players – notably goaltender Gilles Meloche and forwards Al MacAdam and Mike Fidler – bolstered the Minnesota lineup. Furthermore, Minnesota had drafted Bobby Smith, who would go on to win the Calder Trophy that year, and Steve Payne, who himself would go on to record 42 goals in his second campaign in 1979–80.

1980s

In the middle of this transition, a historic night awaited the North Stars, Met Center and its loyal fans. On the night of January 6, 1980, Minnesota was scheduled to play the Philadelphia Flyers, who came to Bloomington sporting the NHL's (and all major league sports') longest undefeated streak, a 35-game string which included 25 wins and 10 ties.

An all-time record Met Center crowd of 15,962 squeezed into every nook and cranny of the arena, which was the largest crowd to ever witness a hockey game in Minnesota to that time, and would remain the highest total in all 26 seasons of the franchise. Minnesota obliterated the Flyers and ended their streak, 7-1, with two North Stars posting hat tricks in the drubbing.

With the additions of fine new players such as Minnesota native and ex-1980 Olympian Neal Broten and sniper Dino Ciccarelli, the North Stars had five straight winning seasons starting in 1979–80 and included back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Semi-Final, first against the Philadelphia Flyers in 1980, and then the Calgary Flames in 1981. By beating those Flames in 1981, the North Stars finally reached their first Stanley Cup Final only to lose in 5 games to the heavily stacked New York Islanders.

Dino Ciccarelli would score a franchise record 55 goals in just his second season in 1981–82, leading Minnesota to its first division title. The team, however, bowed out of the play-offs in the first round against an upstart Chicago Blackhawks team.

In the summer of 1982, General Manager Lou Nanne orchestrated one of the franchise's biggest moves ever, and landed a star in the making, by drafting highly coveted Brian Bellows. It paid immediate dividends, as he would score 35 goals in his rookie campaign, and helped the team to finish with 40 wins and 96 regular season points - both the most ever recorded in the 26 years the franchise was based in Minnesota. Once again, though, the North Stars fell in the play-offs to the pesky Denis Savard and Al Secord-led Chicago Blackhawks, this time in the second round.

Beginning in 1983–84, the team was determined to erase the failures of the previous two campaigns and came close to doing so. This was a season of change for the North Stars and their fans, as a new coach was behind the bench, Bill Mahoney, who was a defense-minded teacher of the game. Very early in the season, a major trade shook the organization, all of Minnesota, and the NHL. The popular Bobby Smith was shipped off to the Montreal Canadiens for a pair of defense-minded forwards, Keith Acton and Mark Napier. The team would go on to post the second-highest victory total in its history with 39, and win its second Norris Division crown.

In the playoffs, the North Stars finally defeated their rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. Minnesota won the series 3 games to 2, then eliminated the St. Louis Blues in 7 games. Only one team remained between the North Stars second Stanley Cup Final appearance in four seasons: Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers. It was a tough, high-scoring series, but the Oilers proved too much with a star-studded line-up, and would coast past the North Stars in a four game sweep, en route to their first Stanley Cup.

After 1984, the franchise would only have one more winning season in Minnesota. While the late 1980s saw the franchise draft what would turn out to be their greatest player – forward Mike Modano – chronic attendance problems spurred the owners to threaten to move the club to the San Francisco Bay Areamarker, against the league's wishes.

1990s

A compromise was implemented for the 1990–91 season whereby the Gund brothers were awarded an expansion team in the Bay Area, the San Jose Sharks, that would receive players via a dispersal draft with the North Stars. A group previously petitioning for an NHL team in the Bay Area led by Howard Baldwin and Morris Belzberg bought the North Stars as part of the deal. Baldwin and Belzberg purchased the team from the Gund brothers for approximately $38.1 million (including $1 million in liabilities as well as giving the Gunds their share of the fees from the next three expansion teams, expected to be $7.14 million). Norman Green, a last-minute newcomer to Baldwin and Belzberg's group, purchased 51% controlling interest in the North Stars from them, with Baldwin and Belzberg sharing the remaining 49% stake in the team. Green agreed to purchase Baldwin's 24.5% share, giving him more than 75% control of the team, shortly after a dispute with Baldwin arose. Belzberg maintained his share of the rest of the team's stock until October 1990, when Green became the sole owner by buying Belzberg's shares.

In that 1991 season, despite a losing record in the regular season, the North Stars embarked on a Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals. They knocked off the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues (the top two teams in the NHL during the regular season) in six games each and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers in five games, making it to the finals for the second time in franchise history. The team fought hard against the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Mario Lemieux. They won two out of the first three contests before being obliterated 8-0 in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series. It was the most one-sided defeat in a deciding game of the Stanley Cup Finals since the Ottawa Senators defeated the Dawson City Nuggets 23-2 in 1905.

Following the 1991 Finals run, the North Stars adopted a new logo - the word "STARS" italicized in gold over a green star with a gold outline. The team also adopted black as their primary color for their road uniforms, and eliminated gold from the uniform, except for the logo.

To celebrate the team's 25th anniversary, a commemorative patch was worn on the North Stars' uniforms, on the left shoulder. The patch depicted Bill Goldsworthy, wearing a green uniform, facing off against Mike Modano, wearing the new black uniform.

The North Stars would make the 1992 Playoffs with their new look, and take a 3-2 series lead on the Norris Division champion Detroit Red Wings into Game 6 at the Met Center. The Red Wings won, 1-0, in overtime after a video review confirmed that Sergei Fedorov had scored a goal, the first use of video replay in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Wings would win the seventh game at home, 5-2.

Departure to Dallas

As is well explained in a 1993 Sports Illustrated article, owner Norman Green was much reviled in Minnesota following the decision (due to poor attendance during a string of losing seasons, the failure to reach stadium deals in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, and a sexual harassment lawsuit against Green that resulted in his wife threatening to leave him unless he moved the team) to move the franchise. The Sports Illustrated article included a quote from North Stars booster club president Julie Hammond: "When [Norm Green] came here, he said, 'Only an idiot could lose money on hockey in Minnesota.' Well, I guess he proved that point."

On the other hand, the Dallas franchise has taken some steps to mend the emotional wounds left in Minnesota. When the Dallas Stars won the 1999 Stanley Cup, their official video "Nothing Else Matters" not only included their past seasons' disappointments, but also paid tribute to the North Stars' 1991 run to the final, of which star Mike Modano and general manager Bob Gainey had been part. As of 2009, Modano is the last former North Stars player still active in the NHL. Modano is also the only remaining North Star still with the franchise in Dallas, and currently serves as an alternate captain.

Three remaining former North Stars play overseas or in the minor leagues. Mike Craig and Todd Elik both play in the Austrian Hockey League, Craig for EC KAC and Elik for HDD Olimpija Ljubljana. Finally, Richard Matvichuk plays for the Lowell Devils of the American Hockey League.

Return of Hockey to Minnesota

Professional hockey would return to Minnesota when the NHL announced in 1997 that the state had been awarded an expansion franchise to begin play in the 2000–01 NHL season. In 1998, the team name for the new franchise became the Minnesota Wild.

Seasons and records

Season-by-season record

The team had 15 playoff appearances, a 77-82 playoff record, 2 Norris Division championships, and 2 Campbell Conference championships.
For a complete list of seasons played by the Minnesota North Stars and Dallas Stars, see Dallas Stars seasons.


Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes

Season GP W L T Pts GF GA PIM Finish Playoffs
1967–68 74 27 35 15 69 191 226 738 fourth, West Won Quarterfinals (Kings) 4-3

Lost Semifinals (Blues) 4-3
1968–69 76 18 43 15 51 189 270 862 sixth, West Out of playoffs
1969–70 76 19 35 22 60 224 257 1,008 third, West Lost Quarterfinals (Blues) 4-2
1970–71 78 28 34 16 72 191 223 898 fourth, West Won Quarterfinals (Blues) 4-2

Lost Semifinals (Canadiens) 4-2
1971–72 78 37 29 12 86 212 191 853 second, West Lost Quarterfinals (Blues) 4-3
1972–73 78 37 30 11 85 254 230 881 third, West Lost Quarterfinals (Flyers) 4-2
1973–74 78 23 38 17 63 235 275 821 seventh, West Out of playoffs
1974–75 80 23 50 7 53 221 341 1,106 fourth, Smythe Out of playoffs
1975–76 80 20 53 7 47 195 303 1,191 fourth, Smythe Out of playoffs
1976–77 80 23 39 18 64 240 310 774 second, Smythe Lost Preliminary (Sabres) 2-0
1977–78 80 18 53 9 45 218 325 1,096 fifth, Smythe Out of playoffs
1978–79 80 28 40 12 68 257 289 1,102 fourth, Adams Out of playoffs
1979–80 80 36 28 16 88 311 253 1,064 third, Adams Won Preliminary (Maple Leafs) 3-0

Won Quarterfinals (Canadiens) 4-3

Lost Semifinals (Flyers) 4-1
1980–81 80 35 28 17 87 291 263 1,624 third, Adams Won Preliminary (Bruins) 3-0

Won Quarterfinals (Sabres) 4-1

Won Semifinals (Flames) 4-2

Lost Stanley Cup Finals (Islanders) 4-1
1981–82 80 37 23 20 94 346 288 1,358 first, Norris Lost Division Semifinals (Blackhawks) 3-1
1982–83 80 40 24 16 96 321 290 1,520 second, Norris Won Division Semifinals (Maple Leafs) 3-1

Lost Division Finals (Blackhawks) 4-1
1983–84 80 39 31 10 88 345 344 1,696 first, Norris Won Division Semifinals (Blackhawks) 3-2

Won Division Finals (Blues) 4-3

Lost Conference Finals (Oilers) 4-0
1984–85 80 25 43 12 62 268 321 1,735 fourth, Norris Won Division Semifinals (Blues) 3-0

Lost Division Finals (Blackhawks) 4-2
1985–86 80 38 33 9 85 327 305 1,672 second, Norris Lost Division Semifinals (Blues) 3-2
1986–87 80 30 40 10 70 296 314 1,936 fifth, Norris Out of playoffs
1987–88 80 19 48 13 51 242 349 2,313 fifth, Norris Out of playoffs
1988–89 80 27 37 16 70 258 278 1,972 third, Norris Lost Division Semifinals (Blues) 4-1
1989–90 80 36 40 4 76 284 291 2,041 fourth, Norris Lost Division Semifinals (Blackhawks) 4-3
1990–91 80 27 39 14 68 256 266 1,964 fourth, Norris Won Division Semifinals (Blackhawks) 4-2

Won Division Finals (Blues) 4-2

Won Conference Finals (Oilers) 4-1

Lost Stanley Cup Finals (Penguins) 4-2
1991–92 80 32 42 6 70 246 278 2,169 fourth, Norris Lost Division Semifinals (Red Wings) 4-3
1992–93 84 36 38 10 82 272 293 1,885 fifth, Norris Out of playoffs
Totals 2,062 758 970 334 1,850 6,690 7,373 36,279


Team leaders

Regular season



Team scoring leaders

This is a listing of the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history.

Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game
Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Neal Broten C 876 249 547 796 .91
Brian Bellows RW 753 342 380 722 .96
Dino Ciccarelli RW 602 332 319 651 1.08
Bobby Smith F 572 185 369 554 .97
Bill Goldsworthy RW 670 267 239 506 .76
Tim Young F 564 178 316 494 .88
Steve Payne F 613 228 238 466 .76
Craig Hartsburg D 570 98 315 413 .72
Dave Gagner C 440 187 217 404 .92
J. P. Parise LW 588 154 242 396 .67


NHL awards and trophies

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl

Calder Memorial Trophy

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Leaders

Team captains

Note: This list does not include Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, California Golden Seals and Cleveland Barons captains.



Head coaches




Notable players

Hall of Famers

This is a listing of players in the Hockey Hall of Famemarker:



Retired numbers (in Minnesota)



After the move, the Dallas Stars retired the number 7 of Minnesotamarker native, University of Minnesotamarker graduate and 1980 Olympic hero Neal Broten, C, 1981-93.

First round draft picks



Logos and colors

The original North Stars logo, used until 1975.
The North Stars logo used for the 1991–92 and 1992–93 seasons, before the move to Dallas.


Broadcasting

A number of North Stars games during the early years were telecast over WTCNmarker, a then-independent station on channel 11, with play-by-play announcer Joe Boyle and color commentator Roger Buxton calling the action. After the station gained NBC affiliation in 1979, telecasts moved to KMSP-TVmarker, with most called by Bob Kurtz and retired North Stars defenseman Tom Reid. (Incidentally, Kurtz and Reid are the Minnesota Wild's current radio announce team.) For a brief period during the late 1980s, North Stars games were telecast over Saint Cloudmarker-based UHF station KXLImarker, but given the station's distant transmitter location near Big Lake, Minnesotamarker, reception in the Twin Cities ranged from mediocre to non-existent. Telecasts returned to KMSP by 1990, although few home games were televised -- during the Stars' 1991 Stanley Cup Finals run, home games were available only on pay-per-view and not available to most hockey fans in Minnesota.

North Stars radio broadcasts originated from WCCO Radiomarker from 1967 to 1978, then moved to another Twin Cities-based clear-channel station, KSTP, where radio broadcasts stayed until the team moved to Dallas in 1993, save a few seasons on a 5,000-watt radio station, WAYL. Al Shaver was the play-by-play radio announcer throughout the Stars' stay in Minnesota. During the WCCO era, Shaver was joined for many home games by WCCO personality Steve Cannon, then on KSTP during the last three seasons in Minnesota by current Dallas Stars announcer Ralph Strangis. During the Stars' final season (1992-93), Shaver and Strangis called games on KMSP, while the Stars' cable TV game announcer, Doug McLeod, called games over KSTP and the Stars' radio network.

Shaver is a ten-time Minnesota Sportscaster of the Year and, as the 1993 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award-winner, a member of the Hockey Hall of Famemarker. Following the team's departure to Dallas, he called University of Minnesotamarker Golden Gophers hockey games until his retirement in 1996.

It was on the night of the Stars' final game at Joe Louis Arenamarker versus the Detroit Red Wings that Shaver first shared the broadcast booth with his son, Wally, who is the current Gopher hockey radio announcer. The elder Shaver's call of the closing moments of the last-ever North Stars game went thus:

See also



Further reading

References




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