Zubov's time with Stars likely over

Updated: July 14, 2009, 2:12 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Sergei Zubov, perhaps the greatest defenseman in Dallas Stars history, appears set to bid adieu to the organization.

The Stars are in a state of flux with a new coaching staff and new management team, and that almost certainly means Zubov will be playing elsewhere this fall, ending a 12-year stint with the team, his agent, Jay Grossman, told ESPN.com.

"Sergei wants to be in a winning environment no matter where that might be," Grossman said.

A source familiar with the Zubov situation told ESPN.com the Stars were aware that Zubov's plans do not include returning to the team.

New general manager Joe Nieuwendyk wasn't available for comment Tuesday, but he did tell a Dallas radio station, "We have not closed the door on Sergei."

Zubov
Zubov

Zubov played in only 10 games last season because of a chronic hip problem, and had season-ending surgery in January 2009. His salary last season was $5.35 million.

He has been cleared to play and should be at 100 percent when the 2009-10 season starts, said Grossman, who has known Zubov since he joined the league as a New York Rangers prospect in 1992.

Stars sources previously have told ESPN.com they were waiting to ensure Zubov's health before proceeding with any kind of offer to the unrestricted free agent.

Zubov, the highest-scoring Russian defenseman in NHL history, was instrumental in the Rangers' seminal Stanley Cup win in 1994, recording 19 points in 22 playoff games.

After spending part of one season in Pittsburgh, Zubov joined the Stars in 1996-97, and has been there ever since, with a key role on the Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup team.

"He's had a great run there," Grossman said.

It's not believed the offseason changes -- which included Nieuwendyk taking over as general manager, and coach Dave Tippett being fired and replaced by Marc Crawford -- had anything to do with Zubov's decision to move on.

In fact Zubov and Nieuwendyk were teammates on the Stars' Cup-winning team.

"There's nothing negative there," Grossman said. "He'd just like to take a look at something else."

Although he will turn 39 before the end of July, Zubov still has the potential to be an impact player, especially for a team looking to bolster its power play and add veteran experience.

The Rangers, who drafted Zubov, are among nine teams that have expressed interest in Zubov's services.

Other teams believed to be interested include Columbus, where Zubov's former Dallas coach, Ken Hitchcock, is trying to build a playoff contender.

Former Dallas GM Doug Armstrong is part of the management team in St. Louis, and the Blues were interested in adding veteran defensive help.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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