Nieuwendyk, Belfour head to Hall of Fame

FRISCO, Texas -- Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour won a Stanley Cup together with the Dallas Stars and now they’ll head into the Hockey Hall of Fame together.

Nieuwendyk and Belfour were two of four players elected to the Hall on Tuesday. Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe were the others.

Nieuwendyk, who was in his second year of eligibility, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP when the Stars won the Cup.

“I’m thrilled. I really am,” Nieuwendyk said at the Stars practice facility in Frisco. “It’s been a busy time with the draft and the work we have to do to get ready for free agency and this is a welcomed diversion, no question. I know how important it is in the history of the game and the select class of players that have gone into the Hall. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

Nieuwendyk also won Stanley Cups with Calgary (1989) and New Jersey (2003). He won the Calder Trophy in 1988 as the NHL’s top rookie. He scored 564 goals in 1,257 NHL games.

“When you go through the course of your career you don’t think that you’re playing because you want to be a Hall of Famer. You play because you love the game and you love to compete and that’s what I tried to do over the course of my career,” he said. “I was fortunate to have success with a group of guys. To me that is what it is all about – the relationships and the teams that you have throughout your career. I was very fortunate in that regard.”

Belfour, who was in goal for the Stars when they won the Stanley Cup in 1999, made it into the Hall the first year he was eligible.

“It’s a great honor,” said Belfour. “I want to thank all my teammates that I played with over the years. Obviously, without them I couldn’t have had success. I want to thank all the great coaches I had over the years, my mom and dad, all my friends that backed me and that made me a better player and a better person on and off the ice. It kind of surprised me. There are a lot of mixed emotions because you always have it in your heart that you want to continue to play, but there is a point when it has to come to an end.”

Belfour was among the best goaltenders of his time, and his career numbers stack up among the best of all-time.

He’s third all-time in wins with 484, trailing only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy. He’s tied for fourth all-time in games played with 963. He had 76 career shutouts, which is tied for ninth in NHL history. He won the Vezina Trophy twice, the Jennings Trophy four times and he won a Calder Trophy as well.

“I played with a lot of good goaltenders over my career and there was something ultra-unique about Eddie,” said Nieuwendyk. “I wouldn’t say he was socially with us all the time, but we knew he was preparing himself to play nets on any given night. He took his job very seriously. He competed at a high level and we knew Eddie was going to be there for us. If I had to go into a one game showdown, Eddie Belfour is the goalie that I would want in the net.”

Three players from that 1999 team are now in the Hall of Fame. Brett Hull is the other. Mike Modano is probably not far behind. Nieuwendyk thinks Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen will get consideration as well.

“It’s a reminder of the special time that we shared here from the mid-to-late 1990’s and the players we were associated with. It really was a terrific time for all of us and for the fans of Dallas. You appreciate those things when you go through your career and you don’t have those opportunities very often. We all came together for a common goal and it was very rewarding.”