An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, June 9, 1999

Former Sioux
make it tough
to pick sides

I am torn.

The Buffalo Sabres and Dallas Stars are battling it out in the Stanley Cup Finals and I can't decide who to pull for.

On one hand, the Stars used to be my team, that is until Norm Green moved the North Stars south to Texas.

Now, Norm initially meant well. He was hailed as the savior of professional hockey in Minnesota when he bought the North Stars 10 years ago.

Unfortunately for the Twin Cities -- and much of the Upper Midwest -- he also leveraged his purchase and found it difficult to service his debt.

Dallas came courting and offered Norm millions just to move his team to the Lone Star State. Ol' Norm took the cash, moved the team and then sold it.

So, on one hand, I resent the Stars for moving to Dallas and leaving Minnesota without the team I grew up with.

But I'm smart enough to realize the reality of pro sports in the latter part of the second millennium. Money talks.

And besides, Minnesota is getting a team next year, the Wild, one of three expansion teams.

On the other hand, defenseman Craig Ludwig, goalie Ed Belfour and center Tony Hrkac all play for the Stars. All three played collegiately at my alma mater, North Dakota. Belfour and Hrkac were teammates and led the Fighting Sioux to the NCAA title in 1987.

Belfour was a 21-year-old freshman and Hrkac won the Hobey Baker Award, college hockey's version of the Heisman Trophy.

So it's nice to see three fellow Sioux players make it to the Finals, even though Hrkac is not active.

I should be pulling for the Stars, right? Not quite.

PLAYING for the Sabres is defenseman James Patrick, who, along with Ludwig, also led the Fighting Sioux to a national title, in 1982. He ended up playing for the New York Rangers for parts of 11 seasons, playing in at least 60 games every year but his first.

He was a fixture with the Rangers until the 1993-94 season.

Yeah, the year the Rangers finally broke the curse and won the cup.

Mike Keenan, who then was the Rangers coach, traded Patrick to the Hartford Whalers early that year -- and then to Calgary --and never got his championship.

Too bad. He has been one of the league's better defensemen for the better part of two decades. I'd love to see him win it all, too.

After all, he was the first big-time pro athlete I ever spoke to -- if you don't count the late Steve Myhra, who played for the Baltimore Colts in the '58 NFL championship game, but that's another story. Myhra's from my hometown, so that's no big deal, really.

I just happened to answer the phone one day while working at the Grand Forks Herald during my junior year in college.

Patrick was on the other end, trying to get ahold of Virg Foss, the Herald's college hockey writer and resident pipe smoker.

It was a short conversation. But one I won't forget. It was James Patrick of the New York Rangers for heaven's sake.

Belfour and the Stars lost, 3-2, in overtime last night.

If last night's thriller is an indication of the kind of series we're in for, I'll just enjoy.

Forget rooting.

The Stanley Cup -- the actual trophy -- is the greatest prize in pro sports.

Where else but in the NHL would players on the winning team get to take the trophy home for a day, just to have it hang out with your family and friends.

You just have to be careful not to chip your partial plate on the silver as you sip the champagne.

Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.

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