Death and taxes and Sergei Zubov on the power play. The three constants in life that you could count on. It’s easy to look at what Zubie brought to the Dallas Stars in terms of skill and leadership, but when you look at the whole package in regards to his career in Dallas, you can’t help but to be astonished.
Drafted by the New York Rangers in the 5th round (yes, another 5th round gem) in 1990 by the New York Rangers, it didn’t take long for Sergei to make an impact. Up until the dissolution of the Red Army team in the Russia, Zubov was honing his skills with what some would consider the greatest hockey program in the world. He played for the Soviet team for 5 years and the gap between the North American game and Russian game was quite obvious. In his time playing for his home country, Sergei amassed 36 points, averaging roughly 35 games a year. Once he joined the Binghamton Rangers of the AHL, he matched his point total of 36 from the previous 5 seasons in just 30 games.
Zubov found himself a fulltime NHLer during the Rangers Cup run in 1993-1994 where he led the team in scoring. After spending three years in the Big Apple, he was traded to Pittsburgh we he played on 64 games due to a rough relationship with the Penguin’s superstar, Mario Lemieux.
Then, in what has to be one of the most lopsided trades in the last 20 years in the NHL, the Pens sent Sergei to Dallas for Kevin Hatcher. Yes. Kevin Hatcher for Sergei Zubov. Straight up.
Even though the Stars’ captain, Derian Hatcher policed the blue line, the defensive zone belonged to Zubie. He never reached the scoring numbers that he had in his years with New York, but that was in large part to Dallas’ defensive system, which relied heavily on battling the opponents to 2-1, 3-2 victories. Known for his offensive abilities, Zubov found his TOI racked up primarily on the power play, often times being on the point for the whole man-advantage.
However, his defensive positioning was underrated and he also found a significant amount of ice time on the penalty kill as well. His hands and skating ability along with his instincts made him the perfect person to have on the ice when down a man.
Sergei Zubov would be named to three All-Star teams, all of which as a member of the Dallas Stars.
His final two seasons with the Dallas Stars were decimated by injuries, only logging 56 games in the 2007-2009 seasons. Despite his departure to play one final professional season in the KHL, Sergei Zubov continues to be the defensive standard the Dallas Stars faithful measure all defensemen who play. It is unrealistic to think there will ever be another defensive superstar such as Zubov, but with the new crop of young blueliners making their way through the system, perhaps a gem is buried and a little polishing is all that’s required.