Dallas Stars fans were understandably emotional after Steve Ott was traded to the Buffalo Sabres last night. “Otter” is a fan favorite, an active member of the community, and an ambassador for the team, but those same fans got themselves riled up in a bit of controversy with Ott’s comments in his first post-trade interview with the Buffalo Sabres. And that controversy? It’s completely and totally uncalled for, the result of people flocking to Twitter and reading a select quote or two that makes it sound like Steve Ott is trashing the city of Dallas. Context is king when it comes to these kinds of things, so if you haven’t yet, give a listen to the full interview here.
The controversy stems from this quote that starts at approximately 2:15 of the interview:
…to have the opportunity to still be in my prime and have, you know, family coming to watch me play in a real hockey city is something I can’t wait for.
That’s all anyone who finds themselves angry at Steve Ott saw, all anyone who actually thinks this is a controversy chose to listen to. It’s a farce. Sure, the “real hockey city” quote sure looks like a knock at Dallas without any context, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Right off the top of the interview, when asked what his initial thoughts were after being traded to Buffalo, Steve Ott has nothing but good words to say for Dallas.
…Dallas, I’ve been there since 2000 when I was drafted and they’ve been nothing but first class to me and my family…I uprooted there and spent almost half my life in the Dallas area so it’s pretty much home to me and I’m thankful for the opportunity the fans and everybody have given me there.
Wow, imagine that, the city where he’s spent his entire NHL career thus far has a spot in his heart! Go back to 2:15 of the interview and listen to how he says “a real hockey city”. The inflection on the word hockey makes all the difference. Steve Ott isn’t trying to compare Buffalo to Dallas as a hockey market, instead he is merely remarking on the fact that his family, located in Windsor, Ontario (a mere 4-5 hour drive from Buffalo), now has the opportunity to watch him play in Buffalo, a place that essentially has nothing but hockey (well, and the Bills, but come on, it’s the Bills).
More than a few Stars fans are extremely insecure about the team’s place in the Dallas sports media. They get sensitive when the Stars are ignored on the nightly news, they aren’t satisfied that the only major sports team they get more coverage than is FC Dallas. The cruel, harsh fact of it is that the Dallas Stars are only popular when they are good. The same phenomenon happens with the Dallas Mavericks and Texas Rangers, who coincidentally have reached the peak of franchise success during the Dallas Stars playoff drought, compounding the effect. Take a moment, and I mean really take a moment to try and find a reason why Steve Ott would purposely insult the city of Dallas an hour removed from being traded. He made a home here, he raised his family here, he loved it here. He was excited and the range of emotions a recently traded NHL player is feeling is something none of us can accurately comprehend. He didn’t have a list of prepared remarks ready, he was just talking and answering questions with his mind racing a mile a minute. So what if he’s excited to be going to a market that is nuts for hockey? Stars fans should be ecstatic for him, not bitterly making an issue over something that is decidedly a non-issue. He’s getting a fresh start in Buffalo and with it, opening the door for the Dallas Stars to truly begin to remake the core of their organization.
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