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," says Muller.
"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 he's 40!"
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 mid-season 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."