There's a bit of a flurry of activity today as we gear up for the weekend, so here's a roundup of the news that's going on around the Dallas Stars and the NHL. This isn't an official Stargazing post, but there is a good bit of news here to sift through.
First off, there is some news that hits me a bit personally. My brother and I grew up playing hockey at the Starcenter in Duncanville, my brother especially. It was an incredibly convenient and well-run rink for hockey players that lived south of the Metroplex; nearly all of the hockey at that time was centered in the more "well off" areas north of Dallas. It was another great step in spreading hockey throughout North Texas, and during the time we played there it was incredibly popular. One of my best experiences as a Stars fan was being there for a watching party during a game when the Stars scored three late goals to secure a comeback and get a big win. I'll never forget the feeling of jumping and screaming and hugging, surrounded by hockey fanatics and Stars fans in Duncanville.
Now it seems that the very same Starcenter is in trouble. Brad mentioned this yesterday in Stargazing, and the Dallas Morning News has had a series of stories focusing on the troubles of the DPSC.
But business at the Duncanville facility has been slow, and the rink recently closed one of two ice sheets, limiting available ice times for hockey teams and figure skaters. Athletes have been forced to move to other StarCenter locations. The nearest rink is in Euless, about 30 minutes away.
[City manager Kent] Cagle said the city was unhappy with the Stars' marketing efforts in Duncanville.
"They have zero presence in the community," he said. "It gives the appearance of a dying facility."
Basically, the city of Duncanville feels that the Stars have not held up their end of the bargain and have left the DPSC to function on its own without much support from the organization. That's surprising to me, considering the atmosphere surrounding the facility when I was there. Of course, that was nine years ago. City officials are now trying to find ways to turn the facility around in order to make some money. One option is turn into indoor basketball courts, and there will be a presentation by the Bob Knight's Fieldhouse on how to do just that.
Yet hockey fans in the area aren't going quietly. Apparently this news was just as shocking to users and members of the DPSC as it was to me, and there will be a meeting at the Starcenter tomorrow (Saturday) in order to find ways to stop the change. The meeting will be held at 3pm, and is open to any who want to attend. Organizers are calling it a "Save the Ice" campaign. I recommend any hockey fans that live in the area go and show support. It's unfortunate that such great progress in spreading hockey through Texas has hit a bump in the road like this, and I'd hate to see the area take a step backwards.
The Vancouver Canucks have added a lot of depth to their blueline in a short period of time. The team has acquired defencemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenceman Daniel Rahimi and forward Patrick White.
"This trade speaks to the confidence we have in the young players coming up through our system who have earned the right to compete for a spot on this team," said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson in a release.
The Sharks needed to make a move to free up some cap space, and this allows some young prospects already in the system to move up in a more permanent role with the organization.
Brenden Morrow played last night in the Team Canada Red and White scrimmage, and looked good according to most reports. I was unable to actually watch the game, but Mark Stepneski has some good analysis and recap:
As expected, Brenden Morrow played on a line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter at Canada’s Olympic camp scrimmage Thursday night, and that line was good. Very good, I thought. Morrow had the first good scoring chance of the game, basically right off the bat, the trio scored a goal - which Carter potted off a rebound - and those three were just all over of most of the night and created some good chances. I thought Carter was especially impressive.
Dany Heatley got booed a lot. One of the funnier moments came late in the game when the Red appeared to score a goal to take a 3-2 lead. Fans cheered. Then they apparently thought it was Heatley who had scored it (actually it was Joe Thornton who kicked the puck in the net) and booed. Then, when the goal was disallowed, they cheered. Heatley scored a nice goal in the shootout too. The guy can put the puck in the net.
DallasStars.com had a Q &A with the team's new goaltender:
Get To Know Alex Auld
My playing style: "I’m a big butterfly goalie. I like to keep things as simple as possible and try to be as efficient as possible. I’m definitely not as aggressive as Turco, I don’t have the same puck skills that he has. I feel I’m good at it, just not to his level. There’s always areas to improve on and this is something I feel I could get better at. Getting to watch one of the best on a nightly basis and being able to talk to him about it will make me better."
When I was traded to Dallas: "I was extremely excited, I’ve heard such great things about the organization for as long as I can remember. I always loved coming to Dallas as a road city. The changes the organization is making, with my former teammate Joe Nieuwendyk being the GM and my former coach Marc Crawford joining the team, seem to really line up. Even before it happened I was thinking, ‘That would be a nice place to go,’ and it worked out."
Finally: The Texas Stars have announced that tickets are now on sale for the "Bud Light Battle of the Stars". Here's the press release:
Cedar Park, TX - The Texas Stars announced today the team will host the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars in an exhibition game on Wednesday, September 30th at 7:00 pm at Cedar Park Center. The tickets will go on sale for the game on Friday, August 28th at 10:00 am.
"We are pleased to be able to bring this caliber of hockey to the Central Texas area and to Cedar Park Center," said Dallas Stars President Jeff Cogen. "The Dallas Stars are thrilled to extend our footprint deeper into the heart of Texas and be a part of this historic event with our new AHL Affiliate, the Texas Stars."
The "Bud Light Battle of the Stars" will mark the first time an NHL team has played a game in the Central Texas region and Cedar Park Center. The Dallas Stars are the NHL affiliate of the American Hockey League's Texas Stars. Dallas prospects will suit up for the Texas Stars against NHL superstars such as Mike Modano, Brenden Morrow, Marty Turco and Mike Ribeiro.
"It will be interesting to see how well we match up against the big club," said Texas Stars General Manager Scott White. "This will be a unique opportunity for our fans to see just how close our level of hockey is to the NHL."
Individual gate prices for the historic match-up start at low as $15.00 per seat. Tickets for the game may purchased by calling the Texas Stars office at (512) GO-STARS (467-8277). Those interested may also call Ticketmaster by phone at (800) 745-3000, go online at www.ticketmaster.com or visit any local Ticketmaster outlet.
The Texas Stars are expected to announce a full pre-season schedule in the upcoming weeks with two more games at Cedar Park Center in late September.
Season ticket packages to see the Stars play their Inaugural season at the Cedar Park Center are on sale now, starting as low as $12.00 a seat. For more information on Texas Stars season tickets call (512) GO-STARS (467-8277) or visit www.TexasStarsHockey.com.