Hmmm, I’m not quite sure how I want to start this article.
First of all, I’m almost positive I’ve gotten rid of all the tears over the past 22 hours. Last night was rather tough whether you were there or watching on your set at home. In a span of a measly 2 minutes and 10 seconds, the Stars Cup contention hopes went from through the roof to below the surface. Kari was put into a state of horrific panic and found out what playoff jitters truly were. 2 goals were scored in the last 130 seconds in favor of the Ducks and was enough to send the game to sudden death where after 2:45 of fight, the Stars fell for the final time this season.
But this is not supposed to be a mourning paragraph, and by God I will not let it get to that point. This is a paragraph of great rejoice and a hearty final round of applause for a fantastic season for our boys, THE Dallas Stars.
Rewind 366 days from now. I’m sitting in the AAC with my friends Lee (a Wings fan, ew) and Sam, watching the already-eliminated Stars play a playoff-determined Detroit Red Wings squad. The game is not looking pretty as former Star goaltender Richard Bachman has let go of a third goal and seems ready to go home along with the rest of the team. while Lee is basking in the beauty of playoffs, I receive an update on my phone, telling me that former GM Joe Nieuwendyk has been relieved of his duties and that Tom Gaglardi and Jim Lites have brought in a former Red Wings assistant GM by the name of Jim Nill. I ask my friend if he knows the name, and he convincingly shakes his head with a stern “no” implied. I brush it off and hope that maybe this Nill guy will be able to turn our town into a playoff town in maybe 5 years (boy, was I wrong).
Fast forward to June 21st. Jim Nill announces that the organization has hired Lindy Ruff, an apparently average coach who was fired by Buffalo, a team that did not even come close to the postseason, a few months before. At this I was thinking, “What?! I know Gulutzan was bad, but is THIS any better? Who does this Nill guy think he is, anyway?”. An odd move that left many Stars fans in complete confusion and astonishment. At this point, many believed that the Stars were surely in a rebuilding mindset and that they would not need to save up for playoff tickets for another few years (boy, were they wrong).
Fast forward to June 30th. The Stars pick up 18 year old forward Valeri Nichushkin from across the Atlantic in Russia. Stars fans were once again in shock. “The defense obviously needs work! Why draft an offensive KID who can’t even speak English?”. Once again, Nill has managed to prove us wrong.
July 4th: Independence Day for the grand old US of A and Christmas for the Dallas Stars organization. A blockbuster trade was announced, sending troublemaker and full time partyer Tyler Seguin and a middle aged guy with health problems (love ya Pevs) for our idol Loui Eriksson and the truly thriving prospects Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser. Why would the Stars want this Johnny Manziel-like guy on ice skates? Who is he anyway? We want Loui back! Many Stars fans just couldn’t help themselves anymore and felt it best to just surrender to the mercy of this crazy new GM.
September 19th surely boosted Stars fans spirits for once in a while. After losing and winning shootouts in their first two preseason games (in other words, doing just about average), Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff decide that the time to award the big C has come and end up giving it to the youngin Jamie Benn, the seemingly new face of the franchise. Many agreed with this choice, while the still harsh anti-Nill critics believed it should have gone to a more experienced and longer tenured player such as Robidas or Daley, maybe even the electric Brenden Dillon! Nill has once again surmounted the odds and proven that his choice comes out to be the best choice.
As the season began with a loss to the unknown and still unknown Florida Panthers, it was quite the roller coaster ride all the way to last night.
We had many spots where joy was spread (winning in Boston in front of a booing crowd towards Seguin and Peverley, the crushing win against the Anaheim Ducks two days before Thanksgiving where goals were the hot topic for the Stars, the domination near the end of December where the Stars were back in the eighth seed for a good 24 hours, the crushing of the Leafs and Penguins in a 48 hour period, the wins against PHX that boosted us back to the eighth seed before the Olympics, the great comeback on Modano Night with Erik Cole scoring the game winner and Thomas getting his feet wet in green for the first time, the dominant win against the Blues that propelled us to the playoffs, and the 2 crushing blows we delivered the number one seed under the AAC roof in the gone too soon postseason).
We had a few spots where grief ensued (the 6-1 massacre performed by the Blues early in the year, November 29th, the night Dallas died and lost our most respected and loved defenseman Stephane Robidas to one of the most gruesome hockey injuries you will ever see, the many beat downs handed to us by the Chicago Blackhawks, the dark month of January in which the Stars started 1-8-1 and fell 9 points behind the final wild card spot, the scare of March 10th in which the newly adored Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench with a heart failure none of us will ever forget, and the still stinging Game 6 in which the Stars lost their 4-2 lead and dropped their first round series against the Anaheim Ducks, 4 games to 2, extinguishing their Cup hopes much too soon).
As we can all see, it’s been quite an experience and journey! Props to whoever has stuck around to listen to me go on and on about the past 12 months. But this season has truly been wondrous and overall quite exciting! All the work that these guys put in and how much they grew over the year is truly something to be proud of both us and them. From the front office down to center ice, they grew as a team. And we were lucky to be there and experience it. The Stars did more and went further than almost anyone expected. They produced one of the Top 3 dynamic duos in the NHL who found true friendship with each other on and off the ice. Their defense grew and added new prospects who truly showed what they had to offer. The offense propelled throughout the season and surprised many a team and goalie. But this is just the beginning. Things can hopefully only get better from here!
What a season was put together overall! I’m so glad to have experienced it and I’m so thankful to all of you who have put up with my articles for the last 3 weeks! But most of all, I want to thank the Dallas Stars! I love y’all more than life itself and we are lucky to call you our favorite hockey team!
SO THANK YOU FOR AN EXCEPTIONAL SEASON, STARS. Y’all never stopped the grind and always fought to the final horn and you should be proud of what you accomplished this year! I hope y’all all have a great offseason and can’t wait to see what you have in store for next year!
I can’t wait to write all my posts for this offseason, but I first wanted to thank the team that made these posts possible! So one last time, Thank You Stars. Y’all truly outdid yourselves this year. Can’t wait for next season!!! GO STARS