In this edition of Stars News & Rumors, what was once arguably the most dynamic duo in the NHL comes to an end as Ben Bishop ends his playing career and Anton Khudobin is placed on waivers.
Ben Bishop Ends His Playing Career
After battling injuries throughout his entire career and recently facing a year-long rehab from knee surgery, Stars goaltender Ben Bishop was forced to hang up his skates this week. Bishop has not played an NHL game since Game 5 of the 2020 second-round playoff matchup against the Colorado Avalanche as he worked to recover from multiple knee surgeries. Heading into this season, there was some hope that he would return to the NHL, a hope that only increased when he was loaned to the Texas Stars on a conditioning stint last week.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” Bishop said. “I’m going to go into the game and treat it like any other game I’ve ever played. The expectation is to go down, play well and see how the knee holds up.”
Unfortunately, his body did not react the way he had hoped as pain and further issues the next morning led to his recall back to the Long-Term Injured List in Dallas. In the end, the degeneration of cartilage led to bone-on-bone contact in his knee that could have resulted in a lower quality of life, forcing him to end his playing career.
Bishop took the time on Tuesday morning to address the media along with his coaches and teammates. Through an emotional press conference, he thanked everyone that helped him get to this point and said goodbye to his hockey career forever.
Bishop finished his career with a record of 222-128-36 through 413 games. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist recorded an impressive 2.32 goals- against average (15th all time), a .921 save percentage (4th all time), and 33 shutouts across 13 seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Ottawa Senators, Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings, and Dallas Stars.
Perhaps his biggest accomplishment, however, was his role in the development of two young goalies in Andrei Vasilevsky and Jake Oettinger. Vasilevksy is arguably the best goalie in the NHL while Oettinger is just scratching the surface of what should be a long and successful career. It is hard to believe that either player would be where they are without the leadership of Bishop at a crucial time early in their careers.
Due to financial and personal reasons, Bishop will remain with the Stars until his contract expires following the 2022-23 season but his playing career has officially come to an end.
Stars Place Anton Khudobin on Waivers
The goalie carousel has been the hot topic around the Stars this season. With Ben Bishop ending his career, three goalies remained on the active roster in Jake Oettinger, Braden Holtby, and Anton Khudobin. Khudobin has been the odd man out for weeks now as Holtby and Oettinger have given Dallas a dynamic duo in the crease. While it was becoming clearer that Khudobin was on his way out of Dallas, the first official news in the matter was still a bit of a surprise.
On Monday, the Stars placed Khudobin on waivers after he did not receive any legitimate trade interest. As expected, Khudobin cleared waivers, currently holding the worst save percentage of any goalie in the NHL. Dallas has yet to make a decision on how they will handle the situation but he will likely head to the AHL to start playing some games. General manager Jim Nill expressed his belief and respect of Khudobin and stated that this may not be the end of the road for him in a Stars sweater.
For Khudobin, the future is unclear. He is 35 years old, has had loads of success as a backup in this league, but has shown a steady decline since leading the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. Throughout his time with the Stars, he has been as professional as any player, working hard to stay ready no matter the circumstances.
“He’s been put in a tough situation, and we get that,” Bowness said. “All he can do is be a pro. That means you come to the rink every day with a great attitude and just go to work. Control what he can control, and that’s his attitude and his work habits. I give him full marks.”
Right now, the goal for Khudobin is to play some games. Whether or not playing will earn him another chance with Dallas or increase his trade value around the league, he simply needs to play.
Dallas is coming off a three-game road trip that saw them go 0-3-0 against west coast opponents. This week, they will play a home-and-home against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday and Friday before a Saturday matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Tuesday will mark the beginning of a stretch that will match them up against 10 straight Central division opponents, a crucial part of their season heading into the new year.
Sam Nestler is a Dallas Stars contributor for the ‘The Hockey Writers’. Growing up in New Jersey, Sam has been playing hockey since he was 7 years old. Developing a love for writing in college, Sam uses his hockey knowledge to create analyses and articles on every aspect of the game. Sam also hosts his own podcast on Spotify, the “Slapshot Sammy’ podcast, breaking down action across the NHL and NCAA. Check out the podcast here, and give his latest article a read!