On the Dallas Stars, Defending Big D & You

Ronald Martinez

This is important. Please read. At the very least, skip down to the part about the comments.

So today is a frustrating day.

For months we wallowed throughout the lockout, holding on to the hope that perhaps on the other side of that circus there would be a hockey team to rescue us from our misery. It was clear just how much fans really missed the Stars, judging by the insane traffic on this website and the overwhelming amount of people showing up to the Ice Breaker, the home games and the watching parties. We wanted hockey, hungry for a team that we believed had moved on from the disappointments of the past.

Here we are, just ten days into the season and it feels as if all of that hope is now gone. The Dallas Stars are struggling and seem to have regressed in a very short time, culminating in a mind-numbing game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It's tough to watch. There is a realization that we're coming to now, of just what it means to watch a hockey team in transition. There are going to be some extreme growing pains, and there are many out there tired of being told to be patient once more. Of being told that the team will get better soon, they just have to wait -- people who have been standing by the Stars through four years of frustration.

Yet a transition is exactly what is happening and while we should have expected these sorts of issues, especially early on in the season, it doesn't make it any more frustrating to have to live through. It's important, especially after last night, to think of just how many changes were made on this team and how long this current group has actually been playing together.

This was just one game. One game. It's a low point, but it's far from as bad as things could be. There are going to be struggles this season and it's important to be ready for that.

The Dallas Stars were always going to have an issue with depth this season. The team made a very conscious decision to make a commitment to the future and the young players being developed but did not want to rush it; in the meantime, the Stars attempted to bolster an inexperienced and under-talented group overall with a number of free agent signings while making two shrewd trades to add to that future.

The only way this current roster is going to be competitive this season, to actually compete for the playoff spot everyone desires to desperately, is to play as one cohesive unit and overwhelm the opposition with a complete team attack. We are six games into the season and the Stars have yet to have that full team on the ice; Derek Roy isn't expected to play again until Friday at the earliest.

In the meantime the team is struggling; Jamie Benn returned last night but it was clear the communication is going to take some time with Jagr, who plays a similar style. The defense is struggling as well, not helped by the apparent regression of Philip Larsen or the rookie jitters of Brenden Dillon and Jordie Benn.

And through it all we sit and watch and grow impatient and angry. This is what we sat through the lockout for, to watch the Stars fall on their faces in Columbus? The frustration grows and grows and we look for an outlet for that frustration and facebook or Twitter or Defending Big D becomes the best option -- which is what each is meant for.

Every single Dallas Stars fan, especially the ones that take the time to come to this site, wants nothing more than to see this team succeed. They want to see that success as soon as possible and after having to be patient for so long, realizing that things might not be improving as quickly as they'd hope is tough.

It's hard for all of us.

It's at times like these that I think about the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some of my best friends are Leafs fans. Fans of a team that hasn't made the playoffs since before the last lockout. Fans of a team that hasn't even sniffed the Stanley Cup in their lifetime. And yet there they are, year after year, just as passionate and as frustrated and angry but always passionate.

It's that passion that drives us. It's that passion for the team we love that brings us to places like Defending Big D and to read and learn and debate and argue and laugh and cry. That passion is why so many fans returned so earnestly after this last lockout, the same passion that made all of us say we were done with the league during the lockout.

Which brings me to the comments.

It has been brought to my attention over the past few weeks that the comments section here at DBD has become increasingly antagonistic towards those with dissenting opinions -- or any opinion in general. This has, from what I can tell, come from a backlash against the increasingly negative comments that have come more frequently on the site.

For those of us that have been here at DBD since 2009, this has always been a bit like a family atmosphere. This is where we could vent during the tough losses and, for the most part, use this site as a means to escape the disappointments of year's past.

As DBD has grown, however, so have the amount of people that come here to comment. That's just how it works. And with the team missing the playoffs and struggling so badly to start the season there are going to be a growing number of frustrated fans, and DBD is where they turn. This is where debate can happen and this is what DBD was meant for; to provide a safe haven for debate on the Stars, whether that be positive or negative.

Defending Big D has a few very simple rules when it comes to the comments:

* No cursing.

* No personal attacks.

* No racist, homophobic or politically-based comments.

As long as those rules are not being broken, no one here at DBD will attempt to censor what is being said. I am one of the more optimistic fans you'll find and I have a very hard time with the extreme negativity on days like today, but I would never ask someone not to express their opinion if it were a negative one.

There are a few very important things to remember, however, for those are upset with how things have been going in the comments section:

Just because someone is posting a negative comment, or venting, or anything that just so happens to be the opposite of how another person feels -- that does not mean that that person's opinion is automatically wrong and should be shunned. Not everyone agrees with what everyone else has to say -- it's why we have this commenting system to begin with. To debate things.

It's frustrating to me to receive emails from people asking me questions they feel ashamed or worried about asking in the comments section, for fear of being attacked or made fun of.

That's not what Defending Big D is about.

On the other hand, for those that do come to DBD to vent...please take a good moment and a nice long breath and think about what you are saying. Nearly all of the regular commenters here are very knowledgeable about the team and while it is certainly in your right to post whatever your opinion may be, don't be surprised when you are asked to back that opinion up. It should not be taken as a personal attack; that's just part of how all of this works.

There is also a danger in making generalizations and blanket statements, or just going down the line and spamming the comments with extreme hate or negativity. That won't be received very well anywhere. It's also important to stay on topic; if someone posts an article about the nuances of the left wing, it's not the time to start debating the merits of Stephane Robidas on the top defensive pairings.

I know that some are frustrated with the moderation style and I have specifically addressed this behind the scenes.

If you see someone cursing, flag the comment. If someone is being abusive, flag the comment or email myself or Brad.

I'm a believer in "let the community police itself." That only works, however, if we all follow the rules and understand that we should never take any of this personally.

We are all in this together.

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