Welcome to NHL99, The Athletic’s countdown of the best 100 players in modern NHL history. We’re ranking 100 players but calling it 99 because we all know who’s No. 1 — it’s the 99 spots behind No. 99 we have to figure out. Every Monday through Saturday until February we’ll unveil new members of the list.
There weren’t many times when goalie Marty Turco would beat Sergei Zubov in penalty-shot competitions during Dallas Stars practice. Occasionally, when Turco would get the best of Zubov, the Hall of Fame Russian defenseman would extend the competition until he blistered the net behind Turco.
“And then, it was over,” Turco said.
For Zubov, achieving the upper hand wasn’t about ego, and certainly not about bragging rights. Among his teammates, he’s remembered as soft-spoken and easy-going. His words were few but when he spoke, people listened. Zubov didn’t have to say much because his play did all of the talking.
The accumulation of statistics advocating for Zubov’s greatness are endless, as is the fact that he is a two-time Stanley Cup champion. No player in Stars history has played more minutes than Zubov’s 18,407. No player has averaged more than his 26:14 of ice time per game. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in points, assists and plus-minus among defensemen. And while Zubov is best-known for his 12 seasons in Dallas, he also was an early-career offensive force in New York and Pittsburgh, and he helped the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in 1994.
It’s for those accomplishments, and much more, that Zubov is No.