This post may be a day late but that doesn’t stop me from writing it. Oh, and by the way Happy Father’s Day to all you pop’s out there!
So. The wild and manic phase that is the Stanley Cup Finals has officially come to an end. A new champion has been crowned, leaving another team to go home and wonder how long it will be until they can return with a vengeance to their former status and take what they feel is rightfully theirs. After 5 long and fatiguing games, one team can rest easy, while the other cannot catch a wink of sleep. The LA Kings are the 2014 Stanley Cup Champions, while the New York Rangers just sit back and wonder, “What’d we do wrong?”.
As I sat on my couch last night around 11:31 to be exact, I witnessed something that all sports fans wish for their teams: I witnessed the LA Kings win the most coveted trophy of all time, The Stanley Cup. The trophy that was originally paid $48.67 for by Lord Stanley of Preston, the trophy that weighs 34.5 pounds and has seen more battle scars than Antoine Roussel will ever see, and the trophy that has been lifted over various ice rinks and arenas since the way back year of 1893. Now honestly, who in their right mind would want to lift a heavy bowl of metal that’s been kissed, drank out of, dropped, and rubbed by just about every person who’s come into contact with it? Well, just about every hockey player and fan on Mother Earth.
And as I sat watching Dustin Brown lift it as high above his head as he could, after he had been worn down and almost pass out due to the fact that he had just been fighting for his life for around 96 minutes of fast paced hockey, I could not help but think, “Wow, what would I be watching if Kari Lehtonen hadn’t of given up that heart-wrenching Game 6 goal that sent me driving home in a nervous ball of sobbing, or what would I be watching if the defense would’ve been more powerful, or if we had a decent backup goalie, or if Robidas hadn’t of gone down, or if we could’ve squeaked out Game 1 or 2 of the playoffs?”
Wow. I’m not sure how I felt. “It just isn’t fair! The Stars beat the LA Kings 2 out of 3 meetings this past season, how come they didn’t win the Cup?!” Truth is, I’ve never been old enough to understand what is going on and see my favorite hockey team of all time, those gosh darn Dallas Stars, hoist the Cup above their heads. I had just turned 2 when Hull pinned the GOOD goal past Dominik Hasek and sent the Stars as well as the state of Texas into a complete frenzy. And now I have watched for the past 15 seasons as other teams have flaunted the Cup around and shown it to their fans, and drank out of it or put their newborn babies into the bowl, and I just cannot help but think about how I would be feeling if the guys in green were tossing it around to each other.
And let me tell you, that day is closer than you think.
The Dallas Stars, as we all know, have taken gigantic strides over the past 365 days. With a new bench boss and front office guru, many said, “Hey, good for those Stars, finally deciding to give up on trying to run with the big dogs and settling with a rebuild phase. They’ll be ready to contend, maybe in 5-7 years.” Now you may not believe this, but I can testify that I witnessed 5 ESPN and NHL analysts say this as well as 8 of my closest friends, some being Stars fans! But after America’s birthday and the blockbuster deals with Tyler Seguin as well as Shawn Horcoff, these chumps changed their estimations to 3 years or so. But little did they know even with the constant radio and website ads, A New Star Was Rising.
Move on to October 3rd. The Dallas Stars drop one at home in their pretty new clothes and a shiny new emblem on the ice to the beaten, smitten, and rejected Florida Panthers. This took everyone by surprise and turned everyone’s attention off of the Stars, leaving them the forgotten divas in with their flashy new digs. Until the season wore on…
In the cut-throat Western Conference, the Stars were not only able to tread water, but keep pace with some of the biggest names in the league. With odds heavily against them, they executed rather well, leaving many to wonder if this would be the Stars’ magic year?
Until January 2nd hits like a freight train. Coming off a fresh 3-2 victory over the LA Kings (I think their name is relevant for some reason at the present time, but can’t put my finger on why…), the Stars were ambushed and abused by the Montreal Canadiens, which began a series of losses stringed together that turned the Stars 20-12-7 record at the new year into a 21-20-8 mess that left all Dallas Stars fans looking to October of 2014. But a man named Lindy Ruff did what all good coaches would do: he gave a speech.
With their record shattered and their status in the conference dropped to the likes of deadbeat, Ruff cancelled practice the day after a 4-1 spanking from the Nashville Predators, and the same day the Stars were scheduled to meet up with the Minnesota Wild, a particularly hot team at the time who had beaten the Stars 3 nights before in St. Paul’s.
There are a lot of things I have wanted to experience in my life. The Stars winning the 1999 Cup, The Grand Canyon, one of Evel Knievel’s stunts, being a third wheel to Batman and Robin, and going to Hogwart’s. But the thing I now wish I could’ve seen most is Lindy Ruff’s conversation with the boys. Whatever he said, boy did it have a long lasting effect. After this talk, if you remember, the Dallas Stars proceeded to shut down the Wild with a 4-0 stomping, and then proceeded to massacre the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-1 and shut down the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0, with all these games being on home ice in front of a relieved home crowd.
Through a few trades at the deadline and a heart incident that sent the entire Stars fan base into shock, March was quite an obstacle for Stars fans to overcome. And as the clock struck 10:00 on April 11th, people were in disbelief….
The Dallas Stars, a team looking at rebuild less than 9 months ago, were sitting on the inside with 15 other lucky names looking out at 14 dismayed teams for the first time in 5 years. And many thought they truly had a shot.
Though the Stars exited the postseason early this past year, A New Star Is Continuing To Rise. The Stars will return next season, with pain, pride, and a little bit of anarchy in their hearts, along with the wearisome but eternal lust that every hockey player is created with in their hearts. The Stars will be better, faster stronger, older, more determined, more experienced, more prepared, and ready to stride all the way to that shiny bowl mentioned earlier.
With the upcoming offseason, the Stars front office knows what they need to succeed, and they will hunt it down, just as they did last year.
With the Stars focus being on pushing the limit to the max of kissing the Cup and the entire league being on high alert, their in a position to pick Lord Stanley in a year.
You want a bold prediction: I don’t have one but you can make your own!
I’m just kidding, I got one right here: In the hands of Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff along with the young troops, the Stars will, for the first time in 15 years, make the Cup.
Believe me or not, if you don’t, give me your argument, Stars fans, as well as other fans of the NHL, please. You’ve heard my argument, give me yours.
A NEW STAR IS RISING. GO STARS! AND NHL, LOOK OUT, BECAUSE HERE THEY COME.