Now, I know calling a team "the invisible franchsie" and the actual headline of "Stars have that empty feeling" on this article from Sports Illustrated might have Dallas Stars fans already up in arms already.
But you should definitely give the story by Michael Farber a read. It's one of the more realistic and well-measured stories about the Stars attendance and their struggle to re-find their niche in the Metroplex marketplace that I've seen this season.
Farber is a long-time hockey journalist (and appeared as a guest of The Musers on The Ticket as they travel on this roadtrip with the team), and he's got a pretty good pulse on the NHL. But what impressed me more is that he has a pulse on all the things that happened to the Stars to chase them from local prominence.
And he's also giving them credit for trying to turn this around. From a national media standpoint, that's pretty remarkable, and I appreciate that he sees the effort.
Since settling the ownership situation, the Invisible Franchise is trying to reintroduce itself into the community that once set the standard for Sun Belt hockey passion. There are five core players who are 28 or under -- forwards Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson (who has been referred to as underrated so often that surely he now qualifies as rated), defensemen Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley, and goalie Kari Lehtonen -- who have been dispatched to various radio stations for weekly segments. Jim Lites, the Stars president for many of the glory years, reassumed that position under Gaglardi, which should only help the promotional end of the business.
After the jump, more on tonight's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, is Austin Smith the best player in college hockey and people really need to stop blocking shots with their throat.
- Quite a few of the Stars players have ties to Montreal or areas within easy travel distance of the city, so last night's win over the Canadiens had a distinctly familial atmosphere. [DallasNews.com]
- Your all-too-regular injury update. Sheldon Souray will definitely return against the Blackhawks, but Jamie Benn will almost certainly not. And Richard Bachman will make his first appearance in a while in net. [ESPN Dallas]
- It's pretty common for young kids to want to grow up to be professional hockey players, but it's much less common for them wanting to grow up and ref. As part of a program designed to encourage teenagers to learn the fine and oft-criticized art of officiating, USA Hockey arranged for a few Metroplex young refs to meet some of the NHL contingent last weekend. [DallasStars.com]
- I don't know if Austin Smith will actually win the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey. But it's very fun to read about a Texas born and bred prospect of such high caliber regardless, especially since he's a Stars draft pick. [Texas Monthly]
- I do enjoy the part of this story that highlights how several young players have gotten their shot with the Stars this season. But I'm also not sure Ryan Garbutt would be someone I'd classify as "young" [Fox Sports Southwest]
- If you want a potential happy comparison for Brenden Morrow and his neck/back/shoulder/everything injury, apparently Michael Ryder dealt with a freaky muscle injury in his neck a few years back and eventually worked through it with physical therapy. [Montreal Gazette]
- Screw NHL trade rumors - how about another actual NHL trade? The Phoenix Coyotes picked up defensive forward extraordinaire Antoine Vermette from the Columbus Blue Jackets for AHL goalie Curtis McElhinney, a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick. [Arizona Republic]
- And on the contract extension front, the Carolina Hurricanes wrapped up Tuomo Ruutu before he could become a free agent this summer with a four-year, $4.75-million per contract extension. [News & Observer]
- Meet the enemy, part the first: The Blackhawks did just fine without captain Jonathan Toews on Tuesday against the Red Wings, and they will be without him again tonight with an "upper body injury." Some are speculating that injury is a concussion. [Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Now]
- Meet the enemy, part the second: Which of the Blackhawks are playing well, and which are, well, not? Our friends over at Second City Hockey fill you in. [Second City Hockey]
- Around the Pacific Division, the game: Not only did the Los Angeles Kings slink back to their meager offensive ways in a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, but usually-steady goalie Jonathan Quick got himself pulled. [Denver Post]
- Around the Pacific Division, the cringe-worthy injury: Douglas Murray of the San Jose Sharks apparently fractured his Adam's apple. Um, ow. It doesn't quite reach the levels of Mike Ribeiro broken-throat nightmare of a few seasons ago, but still. [Backhand Shelf]
- The few, the proud, the hockey hugs. [Puck Daddy]
- More fun than blocking a shot with your throat? Scoring a goal with your tongue, as Mathieu Perreault of the Washington Capitals learned on Wednesday.