Ever since Maurice “The Rocket” Richard became the first to do so in 1944-45, scoring 50 goals in one season has been the pinnacle plateau for NHL goal scorers. The magic 50-number has distinguished the true “snipers” of the league. While Wayne Gretzky once scored 50 in only 39 games – an NHL record – many Hockey Hall of Famers never hit the mark even once.
From the 1967-68 NHL season through 1992-93, the Stars played in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” as the Minnesota North Stars. Following a relocation down south, the franchise has played beginning with the 1993-94 campaign as the Dallas Stars. Between all of the years that they played in both locations, the Stars have had only three players to reach 50 goals in a single season. To put things into perspective, the New York Rangers have existed for 41 more years than Dallas, and even they have only had three players accomplish the feat.
To further emphasize the rarity of the 50-goal achievement, it took 15 seasons before any Stars player completed the task. From there, the three players who did so came in relatively short order. However, no Dallas player has reached 50 again since the 1993-94 season. Meaning, only one player has scored 50 goals during their time in Dallas, and it has not happened since the first season that they played in the “Lone Star State”. Given the decrease in goals being scored in the NHL today compared to earlier decades, it may be many more years until a fourth member joins the team’s “50-Goal Club”.
We take a look now at the trio of Stars scorers who were able to reach plateau. Only one of them managed to do it more than once, while the other two hit the mark just a single time.
Dino Ciccarelli: First 50-Goal Scorer
Right winger Dino Ciccarelli exploded onto the scene in Minnesota, when it was not really expected. Despite solid junior goal totals of 39, 72 and 50 in three of his four seasons with the London Knights, Ciccarelli went undrafted when the 1979 NHL Entry Draft took place. That may have had something to do with his being injured during the 1978-79 OHL season and limited to just 30 games. Regardless, Ciccarelli ended up signing a professional contract with the North Stars on Sept. 28, 1979.
After playing the bulk of the 1979-80 season with London, followed by the majority of 1980-81 with Minnesota’s CHL affiliate the Oklahoma City Stars, he would finally make his NHL debut with the parent club. Ciccarelli suited up for Minnesota for the first time on Dec. 13, 1980 for a game against the Winnipeg Jets. He would remain with the North Stars for the rest of the season, scoring 18 goals and 12 assists for 30 points in only 32 games. Where Ciccarelli ended up making the biggest splash was in the 1980-81 NHL playoffs. As the North Stars made an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final, their young winger ended up scoring an unprecedented 14 goals and 21 points in 19 postseason games to set rookie records for both categories. While the points total was tied in 2017 by the Pittsburgh Penguins Jake Guentzel, Ciccarelli’s 14 playoff goals is still a record for rookies in the NHL. Unfortunately, the North Stars would lose the Stanley Cup in five games to the New York Islanders that season.
Such a profound performance by the rookie should have been indicative what would soon follow. Ciccarelli’s sophomore campaign of 1981-82 would be his first full season in the NHL. On Mar. 8, 1982, he became the first player in Minnesota history to score 50 goals in one season. As the North Stars crushed the St. Louis Blues 8-1, Ciccarelli scored his 49th and 50th goals of the season against goaltender Mike Liut. By season’s end, he would finish with career highs of 55 goals and 106 points in 76 games. With teammate Bobby Smith scoring 114 points of his own (43G, 71A), this marked the first – and thus far only – time in franchise history that the team had two 100-point scorers.
Ciccarelli Strikes a Second Time
Five seasons later and still with Minnesota, Ciccarelli would reach the 50-goal mark and the 100-point mark for second and final times of his career. In the midst of losing a penalty-filled affair 7-3 to Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ciccarelli managed to beat Gilles Meloche for his 49th and 50th goals of the 1986-87 season. He would finish out the season with 52 goals and 103 points in 80 games. Ciccarelli likely should have scored even more, as he managed just two goals in the final 14 games of the season.
The North Stars would trade their star winger along with Bob Rouse to the Washington Capitals on Mar. 7, 1989 in exchange for Mike Gartner and Larry Murphy. To date, Ciccarelli remains the only player in the history of the Minnesota/Dallas franchise to be a two-time 50-goal scorer. Along with Minnesota and Washington, Ciccarelli would have stops with Detroit, Tampa Bay, and Florida with whom he finished up with in 1998-99. By the end of his career, he had scored 608 goals in 1,232 regular season games. Not surprisingly, Ciccarelli was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.
Brian Bellows: One-Time 50-Goal Scorer
Brian Bellows had already played seven seasons with the North Stars before he hit the magic 50-plateau. A Minnesotan contemporary of Ciccarelli’s, his journey to becoming a North Star was somewhat different. While Ciccarelli had gone undrafted and was somewhat of a surprise, the North Stars expected Bellows to be a preeminent scorer when they drafted him second overall in 1982.
In all actuality, Bellows may have been the most recognizable Minnesota player when he hit the half-century mark during the 1989-90 NHL season. By that point in time, Ciccarelli was playing his first full season in Washington and Minnesota’s next emerging star – Mike Modano – was a rookie.
Bellows scored number-50 on Mar. 22, 1990. Facing the Detroit Red Wings on the road, Bellow tallied his 50th in the second period against goaltender Tim Cheveldae, and then added his 51st with an empty-netter in the third. Bellows would proceed to equal Ciccarelli’s mark of 55 goals by the close of the 1989-90 season. What helped matters was that between Mar. 12 and Mar. 31, he scored at least one goal in 10 straight games. The 55 goals and 99 points he generated that season were both career highs for Bellows.
No Minnesota/Dallas player has since equaled or surpassed the team record shared by Bellows and Ciccarelli.
Bellows would play two more seasons with the North Stars, including another unexpected trip for the team to the Stanley Cup Final during the 1990-91 season. Unfortunately, Minnesota would lose yet again – this time four games to two against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In total, Bellows played 753 regular season games for Minnesota, scoring 342 goals and 380 assists for 722 points.
Following an Aug. 31, 1992 trade to the Montreal Canadiens, Bellows would finally win his first and only Stanley Cup in the 1992-93 season. In addition to Montreal, he would also play for Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Washington with whom he helped make a Cup Final appearance in 1998. Bellows – who is somewhat surprisingly not in the Hockey Hall of Fame – finished his career with 485 goals, 547 assists, and 1,022 points in 1,188 regular season games.
Mike Modano: Only Dallas Player to Hit 50
While Bellows may have won a Cup at the close of the 1992-93 season, the North Stars relocated to Dallas and shortened their name. At this point in time, Mike Modano was proving himself as a bona fide hockey talent and the face of the franchise. Enough so that many pondered over what might have been had the team stayed in Minnesota. After all, the North Stars had selected the Michigan native as the top overall selection of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.
Be that as it may, Modano said hello to the “Lone Star State” in proper fashion. During the Stars first season in their new confines, their star player proceeded to rack up 50 goals – a career high – and 43 assists to equal his other career high of 93 points. Modano scored number-50 during the second to last game of the 1993-94 season. On Apr. 12, 1994, with the St. Louis Blues visiting Dallas, the 23-year-old center scored his 50th and added three assists in a wild 9-5 Stars victory. Modano’s goal was scored against Blues goalie Jim Hrivnak, who was ultimately pulled in favor of Curtis Joseph.
Thus, Apr. 12, 1994 is the last time a Stars player has scored 50 goals in a season.
Modano was able to do what neither of the other members of the Stars 50-Goal Club were able to do with the team – he brought home a Stanley Cup. Dallas would defeat the Buffalo Sabres four games to two to win the Cup to close out the 1998-99 NHL season. While Modano’s goal totals never really approached 50 again, it was his solid two-way play and a newfound focus on defense that enabled him to be the player the Stars needed to win it all.
21 of the 22 seasons that Modano played in the NHL were spent with the Stars organization. He played 1,459 games for the team, scoring 557 goals and 802 assists for 1,359 points. Modano would play one season – 2010-11 – at the very end of his career for the Detroit Red Wings, adding another 40 games, four goals and 11 assists to his Minnesota/Dallas totals.
Modano has played the most games (1499), scored the most goals (561) and the most points (1,374) for any USA-born player in NHL history. Many consider him to be the greatest American player to ever play the game.
Who Will Be the Next Star to Score 50?
It seems rather unlikely that a Dallas Star will reach 50 goals anytime soon. It has been a quarter-century since Modano did it. There appear to be no true contenders for new membership into Dallas’ 50-Goal Club, though there are a couple possibilities. We emphasize possibility as opposed to likelihood.
Tyler Seguin appears to be one current player to consider for membership. A Stanley Cup champion with Boston in his rookie season, Seguin has now played in Dallas for six straight seasons. Thus far, he has not scored less than 26 goals since joining the team. Seguin’s highest total for the Stars was an even 40 goals during the 2017-18 season. More of a playmaker than a natural goal-scorer, he would need an extra-special push in order to hit 50.
The other option that Dallas currently has for 50 is 10-year Stars veteran Jamie Benn. Winner of the 2014-15 Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s points leader, Benn has scored at least 20 goals every season he has played in the league with the exception of the lockout shortened 2012-13 season. Only slightly better than Seguin’s total, Benn scored 41 goals during the 2015-16 season – his highest total since he broke into the league.
With both Seguin and Benn scoring no higher than low-40s, it is doubtful that either’s crest will be any higher. That being the case, it appears that Ciccarelli, Bellows and Modano will remain the lone members of the exclusive Stars 50-Goal Club for at least a few more years.
General Manager of the Buffalo Beauts (NWHL). Hockey history writer “The Hockey Writers”. Credentialed media for the NHL Combine and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, USA. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Lifelong hockey fan for over 40 years. Proponent of the women’s game.