When the news came out that Dallas Stars netminder, Ben Bishop, would be retiring following an unsuccessful injury comeback bid, I found myself contemplating his time in Dallas. Bishop, one of the Stars biggest name outside signings in recent history, had a complicated tenure in Dallas. Would he go down as a success or a failure for this organization?
As hard as it is to believe, the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist has spent the last four seasons with the Stars organization. Signed in the 2017 offseason to a 6-year $29.5M deal, Ben Bishop represented a changing of the guard in many ways.
Ben Bishop came to the Dallas Stars at a time when they needed him the most
If you’ll remember, the Dallas Stars were coming off that terrible 2016-2017 campaign where they finished with just 79 points, ended at sixth place in the Central Division, and failed to make the postseason.
That may not sound quite like the definition of “terrible” but keep in mind, this was following a season where they finished as the No. 1 seed. That 2016-17 season was supposed to be their big rebound where they accomplish what they failed to do the season before. Instead they took a massive step back.
It wasn’t only the disappointing record that had Dallas Stars fans soured and disheartened, it was the uncertain status of the team. The defensemen situation was confusing. Dallas had promising talent but no clear hierarchy and constant churn. Names like Jamie Oleksiak, Esa Lindell, Stephen Jones, Julius Honka, and Jordie Benn populated the ranks.
The belief was the cream was eventually going to rise to the top but the defense never constantly established itself and it trickled down to the goaltender.
In goal things were bleak. Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi shared netminder duties – neither able to secure a winning record. The defensemen were largely to blame but the Dallas duo in net weren’t doing much to stop the bleeding.
The pair of Lehtonen and Niemi cost Dallas one of the largest sums of goalie money in the league. Most teams that spend that much in the net are elite. Dallas was a mess. The worst part of the goalie situation was there was no glimmer of hope rising through the ranks. The young forward talent in Dallas was promising. As were the young defensemen. But the shelves were bare at goalie. There wasn’t a clear option being groomed behind Kari and Antti so options that offseason were limited.
Speaking of limited options, the free agent market that year was rough. For a team looking for a goalie it was pretty much Ben Bishop or bust. Looking back, I made that same case here at Sport DFW when I said, “They can mask a glut of mistakes if they can just find a top goalie to guard the net (Sport DFW 2017).”
As we all know, Dallas would trade for Ben Bishop in May and would go on to sign him shortly thereafter. He put hope back in the Stars franchise and kept them contenders throughout his time. Injuries robbed him of becoming the force many of us hoped he’d be long-term but the man never let his save percentage dip below .916 and he even gave Dallas that impressive 2018-19 season where he logged a .926 save percentage with a GAA of 1.98.
Things didn’t end great for Ben Bishop in Dallas – blame Father Time for that. But Ben was the perfect signing for the Stars back in 2017 and he helped fill a need no one else could have. He energized the fanbase and kept the Stars in the conversation.
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Godspeed Ben Bishop.