We're wrapping up our 2011-2012 Dallas Stars season analysis this month here at Defending Big D. As part of our wrap-up, we're trying something a little unique and different to end the season. Over the next week or two, each of the DBD staff members will be writing a personal perspective on the season that was. It's going to be cathartic, sometimes witty, sometimes funny, and hopefully won't include anymore almost-arrests like I had this season.
I'll kick off the series with my look back on the season. This past year has been such a ride. I've marked one year writing for Defending Big D, and I can honestly say I've learned so much this past year. Not just from my fellow writers and the bosses (Brad and Brandon), but also from the amazing readers we have and the people I've come in contact with being around hockey.
One of the best parts to this season for me has been the people. I've gotten to share my love of hockey with so many people that are just as fanatical about the Dallas Stars as I am this season more than I ever have before. Not only here on Defending Big D, where we have an amazing community of people, but also through meeting people at games. I've made tons of new friendships with Stars fans this year. I've met some hockey fans that, while they may root for a different team, are some of the best human beings on this earth. Hockey fans truly are the best - meeting hockey fans here at home, from opposing teams, and on my trip to Canada has affirmed this time and time again. Who knew that my best friend today would be a girl I met at a Stars vs Flyers game over a year ago and that we would get the crazy idea to go see the Stars on the road in Edmonton, Calgary AND Vancouver - in one trip?! Even before I met my new boss at work, I knew he would be good people as he's a hockey fan. (A Buffalo Sabres fan to be exact. One of our first email exchanges ever included a picture of Brett Hull's foot in the crease with "NO GOAL" written over it. Funny guy.)
The rest of my year in review after the jump.
A year wouldn't be complete without some downsides, of course. The down times make us appreciate the good times that much more, and the good times get us through the bad times.
Watching the Stars continue to struggle to find scoring consistency made me cry, shake my head in disbelief, and throw my remote more than once this season. But nothing tops the feeling I had when I saw Kari Lethonen, Alex Goligsoki, Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro injured at different points in the season. With Goligoski, I was worried the Stars would lose some mobility and puck possession on the blue line, but the veteran leadership of Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley and Sheldon Souray would be enough to get the team through. Then...the great groin injury took Lehtonen down, and with Andrew Raycroft coming in as the potential starter, my faith in the team's ability to win games when Lehtonen had stolen so many games already in the season became shaken. But that opened the door for Richard Bachman to come in (what a pleasant call up that turned out to be!) and provide a stabilizing force in the backup goaltender position. I felt like someone punched me in the gut when Jamie Benn was cut by Mark Giornado's errant skate. Then you have Mike Ribeiro going down with a knee injury around the same time, and I kissed playmaking centers goodbye for a while. Thank goodness it wasn't as long as I thought it would be before both were back in the lineup. And there was that whole pesky appendix Benn had to deal with too.
The 11 game streak that came after all of those injury woes was brilliant. People started coming back to the American Airlines Center, and I caught a glimpse of playoff hockey atmosphere that hasn't really been around since...too long for my taste. There was more talk about the Stars, playoff scenarios, and general excitement in the air. Now, it ended up being all for naught at the end of the season as the Stars would miss (again) playing in May. But that electricity and fan enthusiasm showed what we have here in Dallas - a fanbase that wants to believe, that wants postseason play, that will support when the Stars are doing well.
Next season is going to be full of change, building in the right direction with prospects replinished and invigorating with a new owner in place. So I say goodbye to the 2011-2012 Pesky Stars, and look to the future. Where there will be joy, pain, good and bad. But ultimately...playoff hockey in Dallas in 2012-2013? Boy, wouldn't that be a sight to behold...