Young At Heart
Forty-year-old Guy Carbonneau, the league's elder statesman, is
still a vital part of the Stars
Scan the Stars' dressing room and you'll see grizzled veterans
like Mike Modano, Kirk Muller and Joe Nieuwendyk. They're just a
few of the battle-tested champions in Dallas, and it's through
players such as these that you can take the measure of a man.
"Guy Carbonneau is the smartest player I've ever played with,"
"His poise, his competitiveness spreads through this team," says
Modano. "We learn from him."
"He's 40," Nieuwendyk says. "He's playing as well as he is, and
Carbonneau, a center, is the NHL's reigning Methuselah, and to a
man, the defending Stanley Cup champion Stars hold him in awe.
"Carbo has a big voice on this team, and he can tell you five
minutes after a game what we did wrong and what we did right,"
says coach Ken Hitchcock. "The reason players listen isn't just
that he's experienced and the oldest player in the league, it's
also that he can still play."
Carbonneau, who averaged nearly 16 minutes per game during the
regular season, remains a focal point of Dallas's league-best
penalty-killing unit. He won face-offs (53.2%), he scored 10
goals (his highest total in six seasons) and he was +10, the
third-best rating on the Stars, even though he often played
against frontline centers, some of them half his age. "I take
pride in shutting a scorer down," says Carbonneau. "I don't have
the speed I used to, but I know more. Sometimes I'll look at a
guy in the face-off circle, and he remembers I stopped him the
last time. That gives me an advantage."
Carbonneau's reputation as a defensive forward was built on the
three Selke Trophies he won during his 12 seasons with the
Canadiens, from 1982-83 through '93-94. Early this year
Carbonneau went to Hitchcock and asked to play against the
opponent's top line. "I can do this," Carbonneau said. His
determination not only energized Dallas's defensive effort but
also helped free Modano, the Stars' premier two-way center, to
concentrate on offense. It's no coincidence that Modano finished
with a team-best 38 goals.
After a 3-2 loss to the Kings last Friday, Carbonneau stood
shirtless in the Dallas dressing room. It had been a meaningless
match for the Stars, who had already secured the second seed in
the Western Conference. Yet Carbonneau had slid to the ice
several times to break up plays. "You ask yourself why you still
put yourself through this," said Carbonneau, who has played more
than 1,300 games and has won three Stanley Cups. "But when
you're out there, you just think about winning. You just play,
and you don't want to stop."
Junior Coach Bill Stewart
A Winner With Baggage
A year ago Bill Stewart concluded a rousing stint as the
Islanders' coach. After having been promoted from assistant at
midseason to replace Mike Milbury, who stepped down as coach but
remained New York's general manager, Stewart made his mark as a
superb motivator and a man with a tendency to say things he
shouldn't. "Have you seen our lineup?" he asked while explaining
a 3-1 loss to the Rangers in March 1999. "Enough said." Those
and similar comments riled Milbury, who dismissed Stewart after
the season, though Stewart had guided the talent-poor Islanders
to a respectable 11-19-7 record, and though many New York
players thought he was swell. Now the 42-year-old Stewart says
of his outspokenness, "It was a mistake."
It wasn't his last. Stewart took over as the general manager and
coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Barrie Colts, a junior
club, last summer and has generated headlines for more than the
Colts' outstanding 43-19-6 regular-season record. On two
occasions early in the season Stewart hid 17-year-old Ukrainian
defenseman Vladimir Chernenko in the luggage compartment of the
Barrie team bus and smuggled him over the border for games in
the U.S. Chernenko, who speaks little English and who reportedly
offered no resistance to stowing away, lacked the requisite visa
to play in the U.S. What makes Stewart's tactics stranger is
that Chernenko was a little-used blueliner who subsequently was
traded. "It was an error on my part," says Stewart, who last
month was fined $25,000 and stripped of his general managership.
In January Stewart also publicly clashed with the league
administrators over a pair of trades at the OHL's deadline. Two
deals he made were scotched when OHL executives said they didn't
receive the paperwork on time.
Despite those ill-advised acts, Stewart's winning ways make him
a candidate to return to the NHL. "He's a gamble only because
being an NHL coach involves more than winning. It involves being
a public figure, getting along with management and a lot of
other things," says Thrashers general manager Don Waddell. "But
he showed real commitment by going to the OHL, and he wins."
At week's end Stewart had the Colts in the second round of the
playoffs against the Sudbury Wolves, a series Barrie led 1-0.
Says Colts right wing Michael Henrich, "That other stuff doesn't
bother us. He has this way of talking that makes you believe
what he says. There's no bull."
Fuhr's Delayed Exit
Flames Save, And It's a Beauty
In the ever-expanding NHL, teams have become expert at
manipulating their rosters to guard against losing key players
in expansion drafts. In the case of Grant Fuhr's nonretirement
retirement, the Flames have come up with one of the craftiest
Fuhr, Calgary's 37-year-old goalie, missed much of this season
with torn cartilage in his right knee. He went 5-13-2, and last
month he said that retiring would be "the best thing for my
body." It seems almost certain that Fuhr's 19-year NHL career
has come to a close. Last week's announcement that the Flames
have granted Fuhr a one-year contract extension (he'll be paid
the $200,000 league minimum) simply signals that his official
retirement announcement most likely will come after the Columbus
Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild raid teams' rosters on June
23. The existing clubs each must leave at least one goalie
exposed in the draft. By signing Fuhr, Calgary can expose him,
thus protecting their starting goaltender, Fred Brathwaite, and
talented backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere. "The deal's good for me
and good for the Flames," says Fuhr, who may work as Calgary's
goaltending coach next year.
It's not so good for Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean
and his Wild counterpart, Doug Risebrough, both of whom probably
will follow the principle that has guided previous expansion
teams and draft as many able goaltenders as possible. Odds are
they won't find one in Calgary.
WHOM WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE?
A fourth-round pick in 1994, he had 36 goals and 36 assists,
following his 48 points and third-place finish in the 1999
rookie of the year vote. Even veteran defensemen fall for his
A third-round pick in 1994, he had 20 goals and 47 assists
through Sunday, following a 44-point season that earned him 1999
rookie of the year honors. He wins face-offs (53%) like a
The Verdict: The season's closest call goes to Hejduk because
few players have his highlight-video moves.