Minnesota North Stars

Minnesota North Stars
Minnesota North Stars
List of Minnesota North Stars seasons
Founded 1967
History Minnesota North Stars
Dallas Stars
Home arena Met Center
City Bloomington, Minnesota
Colors Green, gold, black, white
Stanley Cups 0
Conference championships 2 1980–81, 1990–91
Presidents' Trophies 0
Division championships 2 1981–82, 1983–84

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 Center in Bloomington, 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 seventeen times, including two Stanley Cup Finals appearances. In the fall of 1993, the franchise moved to Dallas, Texas, and is now known as the Dallas Stars.




Met Center, home ice
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.[1] 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 Minnesota.[2][3] Their efforts were successful, as the NHL awarded one of its six expansion franchises to Minnesota on February 9, 1966.[3] In addition to Minnesota, the five other franchises were awarded to California (Oakland), Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis.[3] The "North Stars" name was announced on May 25, 1966, following a public contest.[3] The name is derived from the state's motto "L'Étoile du Nord", which is a French phrase meaning "The Star of the North".[4] Months after the naming of the team, ground was broken on October 3, 1966, for a new hockey arena in Bloomington, Minnesota.[3] The home of the North Stars, the Metropolitan Sports Center, was built in 12 months at a cost of $7 million.[2] 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.[5] Spectator seats were in the process of being installed as fans arrived at the arena for the opening home game on October 21, 1967.[5]

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.[4] 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 West Division halfway through the 1967–68 season.[4] 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.[4] Skating towards the Seals goal across the blue line, Masterton fell backwards, hitting the back of his head on the ice, rendering him unconscious.[4][6] He never regained consciousness and died on January 15, 1968, at the age of 29, two days after the accident.[4] Doctors described the cause of Masterton's death as a "massive brain injury".[6] To this date, this remains the only death as a result of an injury during a game in NHL history.[7] 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.[8] Following the news of Masterton's death, the North Stars lost the next six games.[4]

The North Stars would achieve success in their first year of existence by finishing in fourth place in the West Division with a record of 27-32-15, and advancing to the playoffs.[4] During the 1968 playoffs, the North Stars defeated the Los Angeles Kings in seven games after losing the first two in the series.[4] In the next round, the West finals, the North Stars faced the St. Louis Blues in a series which would also go to a seventh game.[4] Minnesota was one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals, but in the deciding game, they lost in double overtime.[4] A Minnesota resident, John Bird quotes "This may have been the best game ever played in all of the NHL."

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.

The World Hockey Association (WHA) began play in 1972 with a Minnesota franchise based in St. Paul. While a number of exhibition games were played between teams in the two leagues, the North Stars never played their cross-town rivals, the Minnesota Fighting Saints. However, the competition for the hockey dollar between these two clubs was fierce.[9] The Fighting Saints folded at mid-season on two occasions, and by 1978 the North Stars themselves were in financial difficulty.

Fan interest was in decline as the team had 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, Gordon and George Gund III, already owners of the troubled Cleveland Barons franchise, bought the North Stars. They were permitted to merge the two teams in an unprecedented arrangement. The merged team would continue to be known as the Minnesota North Stars, but assume the Barons' place in the Adams Division. The recently-retired Nanne was named 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 Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top rookie that year, and Steve Payne, who himself would go on to record 42 goals in his second campaign in 1979–80.


In the middle of this transition, an historic night awaited the North Stars. On January 6, 1980, Minnesota was scheduled to play the Philadelphia Flyers, who came to Bloomington sporting the NHL's (and major league sports') longest undefeated streak, a 35-game run which included 25 wins and 10 ties. An all-time record Met Center crowd of 15,962 squeezed into 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 North Stars franchise. Minnesota ended the Flyers' streak with a 7-1 win, with two North Stars posting hat tricks.

With the addition of 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, which included back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup semifinals, first against the Flyers in 1980 and then against the Calgary Flames in 1981. By defeating the Flames in 1981, the North Stars reached their first Stanley Cup Final, only to lose in five games to the heavily favored 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 playoffs in the first round against the Chicago Black Hawks.

In the summer of 1982, general manager Lou Nanne orchestrated one of the franchise's biggest moves ever, landing a star in the making by drafting highly-coveted Brian Bellows. It paid immediate dividends, as Bellows would score 35 goals in his rookie season of 1982–83 and help 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 playoffs to the Black Hawks, 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 Bill Mahoney, a defensive-minded teacher of the game, took over as coach. 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 Black Hawks. Minnesota won the series 3 games to 2, then eliminated the St. Louis Blues in seven 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 Edmonton's star-studded lineup proved too much for the North Stars, and the Oilers swept Minnesota in four games en route to their first Stanley Cup championship.

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 Area, against the league's wishes.


The NHL instituted a compromise 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 team's 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" in italicized gold capitals 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,[10] owner Norman Green was much reviled in Minnesota following his decision to relocate the franchise. Several reasons were cited for the relocation, including poor attendance during a string of losing seasons, the failure to reach deals for a new arena in either 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. The 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 (by this time, Norm Green no longer owned the team), 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.

Modano, who retired in 2011, was the last former North Star in the NHL, leaving the Stars franchise after the 2009–10 season. Only one other former North Star is an active professional as of 2011 – Mike Craig, who plays in Austria.

Return of NHL hockey to Minnesota

Professional hockey returned 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.

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes[11]

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[11] GP G A Pts P/G[12]
Neal Broten[13] United States C 876 249 547 796 .91
Brian Bellows[13] Canada RW 753 342 380 722 .96
Dino Ciccarelli[13] Canada RW 602 332 319 651 1.08
Bobby Smith[14] Canada F 572 185 369 554 .97
Bill Goldsworthy[15] Canada RW 670 267 239 506 .76
Tim Young[14] Canada F 564 178 316 494 .88
Steve Payne[16] Canada F 613 228 238 466 .76
Craig Hartsburg[15] Canada D 570 98 315 413 .72
Dave Gagner[15] Canada C 440 187 217 404 .92
J. P. Parise[16] Canada LW 588 154 242 396 .67

NHL awards and trophies

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl

Calder Memorial Trophy

Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy


Team captains

Note: This list does not include Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, California Golden Seals and Cleveland Barons captains.[4]

Head coaches

Notable players

Hockey Hall of Fame

These players are in the Hockey Hall of Fame:

Retired numbers (in Minnesota)

These numbers remain retired with the Dallas Stars today. In addition to Goldsworthy and Masterton, the Stars have retired the number 7 of Minnesota native, University of Minnesota 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.


WTCN-TV Channel 11 (now KARE) carried North Stars games from 1967 to 1979. Usually, 27 road games and three home games were televised each season. Frank Buetel was the play-by-play announcer from 1967 to 1970. Hal Kelly took over for the next few years. followed by Joe Boyle in the mid-1970s. Boyle was joined by color commentator Roger Buxton. After the station gained NBC affiliation in 1979, telecasts moved to KMSP-TV, 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.) In the mid-1980s, KITN (now WFTC) televised North Stars games with Frank Mazzocco on play-by-play with color commentator Wally Shaver. For a brief period during the late 1980s, North Stars games were telecast over Saint Cloud-based UHF station KXLI (with Doug McLeod on play-by-play and former Islander goalie Glenn "Chico" Resch on color), but given the station's distant transmitter location near Big Lake, Minnesota, 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. Dave Hodge handled TV play-by-play in the 1990-91 season.

North Stars radio broadcasts originated from WCCO Radio 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.[17] Al Shaver was the play-by-play radio announcer throughout the Stars' stay in Minnesota.[17] During the WCCO era, Shaver was joined for many home games by WCCO's Larry Jagoe in the early seasons, followed by WCCO personality Steve Cannon. Shaver's partners on KSTP were Russ Small, Ted Robinson, and (during the last three seasons) 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 Fame.[17] Following the team's departure to Dallas, he called University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey games until his retirement in 1996.[17]

It was on the night of the Stars' final game at Joe Louis Arena 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:

"It's Ludwig, giving it to Dahlen ... 4,3,2,1 ... and it's all over. The Stars lose it here, 5-3, and now it's pack-'em up time and on to Dallas. We wish them good luck. And to all the North Stars over the past 26 years, we say thank you, all of you, for so much fine entertainment. It's been a pleasure knowing you, Minnesota's loss is definitely a gain for Dallas - and a big one. We thank you, though, from the bottoms of our hearts, for all the wonderful nights at Met Center, when you've given us so much entertainment and you've been such a credit to the community in which you played. We will still remember you as the Minnesota North Stars. Good night, everybody. And goodbye."


See also

Further reading

Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 


  1. ^ Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 5, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  2. ^ a b Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 8, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  3. ^ a b c d e Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 9, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Minnesota North Stars". Sports E-cyclopedia. http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nhl/minnystars/northstars.html. Retrieved 2007-11-13. 
  5. ^ a b Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 28, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  6. ^ a b "First Fatality". Time. 1968-01-26. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,837760,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  7. ^ "Retired Numbers". Dallas Stars. http://stars.nhl.com/team/app?service=page&page=NHLPage&bcid=sta_history-retired. Retrieved 2007-11-19. 
  8. ^ "Trophies". National Hockey League. http://www.nhl.com/trophies/masterton.html. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  9. ^ "The WHA vs the North Stars". northstarshockey. http://www.northstarshockey.com/wha.htm. Retrieved 2011-02-11. 
  10. ^ "Spleen for Green". Sports Illustrated. April 19, 1993. http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1138154/3/index.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
  11. ^ a b "Minnesota North Stars". The Internet Hockey Database. http://hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/teamseasons.php?tid=37. 
  12. ^ Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 185, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  13. ^ a b c Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 178, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  14. ^ a b Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 182, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  15. ^ a b c Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 179, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  16. ^ a b Showers, Bob (2007), Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne, Beaver's Pond Press, pp. 181, ISBN 1-59298-197-6 
  17. ^ a b c d "Al Shaver". Pavek Museum of Broadcasting. http://www.pavekmuseum.org/Shaver.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  18. ^ "Al Shaver's Last Call". Minnesota North Stars Memories. http://www.northstarshockey.com/lastcall.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 

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