I remember coming across this site maybe a year or two ago, and I'm glad I managed to find my way back. NHL '94 was a huge game for me, as I'm sure it was for everyone here. In fact, 1994 was a big year for me and hockey period. The 1993-94 season brought a nine-year-old Dallas native a hockey team. New rinks started being built and I started playing at one rink's inaugural season. NHL 94 was the most current hockey game at the time, and since I was already a gamer, it wasn't long before I had the Genesis version. I am sure I lost years of my life playing that game, but now it is all just a blur.
The Dallas Stars weren't exactly the best team in the NHL at the time. When I started playing ice hockey, my father paid my first coach, Dave Korol, to train me one-on-one and teach me the game. He was also the Director of hockey relations at the arena. Dave is the reason I am still a fan of hockey today. Once I got to know him better, I found out he was actually drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1983. He never made it to the NHL, but he managed to play a role on the farm team Adirondack Red Wings for a few seasons, including an 88-89 championship. The Wings became my favorite team and my main choice in NHL 94.
I still remember the epic battles I had day after day with a couple friends of mine. One grew up in Pittsburgh, so he would always play as the Penguins ... good team, but he wasn't the best gamer in the world. He was a Lemieux fanatic and would argue with the third in our group about who the best player was, Gretzky or Lemieux. I stayed out of that one. I said that Lemieux was a more offensively skilled player, but Gretzky was the better overall player. Since he would always lose as the Kings, he started playing with Tampa Bay so that he would have an excuse for losing. Somehow he had a scoring touch with Bob Beers.
New games came and went, but I would usually play them for a few weeks and put NHL '94 back in. I don't think I had NHL '95, but started buying the series annually with '96. The new games never disappointed, but never lived up to the memories NHL '94 gave me.
As a hockey fan, Detroit stayed my favorite team through their Stanley Cup wins. Dallas had always been my second favorite to Detroit. I still have my old Detroit beanbag chair in the closet that I did all of my gaming in. Obviously, the 1998-1999 playoffs were huge for Dallas. We faced the Oilers a lot in the playoffs leading up to that year ... lost in seven games during the opening round of 96-97, won in five games during the conference semis in 97-98 and met again in the opening round of 98-99. Sweeping them in four was a sign, especially with game four being an overtime win. I was still rooting for Detroit, too, who swept Anaheim in four without overtime. They were defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions now.
Dallas/St. Louis in the next round was nerve-wracking to watch. It took six games for the Stars to proceed with four of those games going to overtime. Things were looking good for Detroit after winning their first two against Colorado on the road. I didn't expect Colorado to win four straight and win in six. The conference finals had a lot built up. Colorado had just knocked off the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champions with four straight wins. Thinking as a fan of Dallas (and not of Detroit), facing either Colordao or Detroit looked like a lose/lose situation. Over the previous three seasons, Detroit had knocked us out the year before, won the Stanley Cup finals in only four games the past two seasons and in the season before that, Colorado had knocked out Detroit before their 4-0 sweep for the Stanley Cup. The series did not fail to challenge, but the Stars grinded it out. It went the full seven games, and Dallas came back from a 3-2 series deficit to go to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time as the Dallas Stars. The emotion of that series was enough to turn me into a true hometown fan. I had a new favorite team.
Then the Stanley Cup finals happened. I hate talking about that series, because I feel terrible that the Stars had to get the Cup on Hull's disputed goal. Nonetheless, the Stars won the Stanley Cup in a triple-overtime game six thriller.
I have been solely a Dallas Stars fan since. My love of hockey has only grown as of late. It started to dwindle after the Cup, but the lockout changed everything. That old phrase "you don't know how much you've got until it's gone" really applied to me, and I was biting my nails for the 2005-06 season to start. I was always a hockey card collector, but have started to collect Dallas Stars memorabilia for my own mini hometown hockey hall of fame. I have a Joe Nieuwendyk game worn jersey from the 98-99 season, the big Stanley Cup year when he was awarded the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, and I will soon have a 93-94 Mike Modano game worn jersey from the franchises first year in Dallas. I've got jerseys, sticks, pucks, programs, cards and nearly everything to really have a shrine to my love of hockey. It isn't only Stars. I also have a game worn jersey from the man that gave me that love of the game, a late 80's Dave Korol Adirondack Wings jersey. I am on a mission to add something special though. Something with my own personal touch...
Back to NHL '94. It is without question that for the people that lived NHL '94 its playability will stand the test of time. Even for those that didn't, they have definitely heard about it and respect what the game means for those that did. I want to bring my thrill of the 98-99 season and playoffs to NHL '94. It will be close to an NHL '99 build, but with a lot of emphasis on the Stars Stanley Cup win and playoffs. I plan to make sure the rosters reflect those of the playoffs, update the teams and jerseys to my liking and really get my hands into something that means a lot to me. Once I finish it, I'd even like to build a mock stand-up arcade machine to fit into my personal hockey hall of fame.
I look forward to putting way more time than necessary to finish this. I will be verifying rosters, checking out the player stats from NHL '99 and maybe NHL 2000 and get every specification down to my personal liking. I owe everybody here thanks for loving this game and contributing to these forums so that this is acutally possible. I'll be sure to share when it is complete ... whenever that may be.