Tonight at the American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars will play the final home game of the regular season. There is more than a good chance that this is the final home game of the entire season, especially if the Stars find a way to lose to the Colorado Avalanche. In a time of disappointment, the final home game is always bittersweet as the fans show their support for the team even without the promise of more hockey. The players salute the fans and it is usually around this time that the reality of the situation truly does sink in: there will be no more hockey until after the summer.
For the past two seasons, this scene has occurred in Dallas. Last year, the fact that there would be no postseason was overshadowed by the emotion of Mike Modano's final game in Dallas. It was a sad and bittersweet moment that took the place of the anger and frustration of missing the postseason.
This year, if the Stars win against Colorado, the salute to the fans will be one filled with hope and desperation, the Stars fighting for a playoff spot even with the odds stacking more and more heavily against them. Over the course of three games in four days, the fate of this season will be decided.
This occasion should be met with enthusiasm, hype and excitement. Even if the Stars put themselves in this position by losing several key games over the course of a month, the fact that the team is even fighting for a playoff spot this late in the season is an improvement over past years. This game should be generating a buzz that builds until the AAC is rocking, an energy the Dallas Stars will build off of as they take the ice for the next "biggest game of the season."
Instead, this game has been forgotten by all except the most hardcore of Stars fans. The rest of the Dallas area sports fans and the local media have moved on, embracing those golden children from Arlington as baseball fever once again sweeps through the Metroplex.
If you weren't a regular reader of Defending Big D, then you'd have no clue just how big this game tomorrow is going to be.
How tragic is it that the team that has grabbed the spotlight of sports fans and media in Dallas and Fort Worth was once the financial brother to the Dallas Stars? While the Rangers have finished their sale process and have moved forward with an exciting new ownership group, the Stars have been left behind to fend for themselves.
Tom Hicks completely destroyed two franchises? It's all good, the baseball is fixed so there's nothing else to worry about, right?
As this season progressed, we fans told ourselves that if the Stars just kept winning then the buzz would start to build again and those fans that had left would once again return -- eager to continue right where they left off. As the Stars continued to win the fans never came and no matter how much we have tried the local energy for the team never changed.
The local media didn't pay attention and the casual fan that is the lifeblood of any sports franchise never returned.
How fair is to this hockey team and the fans that never left that Tom Hicks' baseball team flourishes? How frustrating is it that not 30 miles from the AAC there is a team that over the course of just seven months has built a rabid and rowdy fanbase? The players are having a blast, the ballpark is rocking, the fans are crazy and the atmosphere surrounding the team is better than it's ever been before.
Meanwhile, the Stars are left on their own to trudge forward, to succeed in any way they possibly can. There's no owner, there's no money. There's no clever marketing scheme and there is zero advertising. All that remains is the pure product of the hockey that is on the ice; true, the Stars have not played to the best of their ability but that doesn't excuse the lack of attention during the most crucial moment of the season.
It's been more than apparent now than ever before that the lack of an owner -- or any sort of future in the front office -- is having a direct effect on what happens on the ice. I'm certain the players will deny it, but I can't imagine the frustration of fighting for a team with no certain future, where the fans fail to show on a regular basis while the sports team across town is busy enjoying record success.
One could argue that the collapse these past few months did the most damage, there was little to no attention during their most successful part of the season either.
There is no help coming. There's a good chance that the roster that is on the ice tonight will be drastically different than the one we see in September next season. As much as we'd love it, there's just not going to be a magically incredible crowd at the game tonight. There is no owner. The front office is filled with uncertainty and doubt. As much as the Stars fight to ignore it all, it begins to weight heavily on the team with each passing game.
The Stars take the ice tonight facing astronomical odds at making the postseason but one thing will never change: there are still those of us that believe, those of us that have faith and will continue to fight.
While it may seem that the Dallas Stars are facing this challenge completely alone, this crucial moment with the fate of the season in the balance, the truth is that there are legions of us fans ready and willing to stand together with the team in solidarity.
Forget the lack of media coverage. Forget the fact that no one believes the Stars have a chance other then the team and its fans. The Dallas Stars may be skating onto the ice as a team with no future and no short term answers for what is going to happen this summer, but they won't be as alone as it seems. It is true that there is no owner and no money to spend on the team yet Stars fans from all over the area should be in attendance, providing the energy and fight that is so desperately needed at times like these.
Congratulations to the Texas Rangers, for coming out from under the shadow of Tom Hicks and ending up on top. Yet as the Rangers celebrate their first World Series berth, the Dallas Stars struggle with being the forgotten son in a suddenly-busy sports landscape. Yet as everyone celebrates the departure of Hicks, the Stars must overcome the mess he's left in his wake and somehow rebuild without any of the pieces that are so desperately needed.
It all starts tonight against Colorado. While you'd be hard pressed to find information on this game on either of the two local newspapers, the fact is this game should be the rowdiest and loudest of the season from the fans. I shall be there, showing my unwavering support for the Stars even as uncertainly about the future grows.
The Stars are heading into the future a lone figure, their silhouette casting a solitary shadow upon the sea of discontent left by Tom Hicks.
Let's join them, shall we?