We have been asking this question for the better part of (4) years. What is the Dallas Stars Identity?
Better question, how does a team create an identity? Is it through how the team plays? Is it through one player and how they play that thus dictates the type of team they become? A little of both, perhaps?
Chew on this for a moment. Name me the (5) best teams in the league over the past (3) seasons. (in no particular order)
Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Vancouver, Boston
You could make a case for LA, but if they don't win the cup last year you wouldn't have a leg to stand on in that argument. I'll humor you and include them anyway.
Now...describe the type of hockey each team plays.
Detroit - puck possession. Push everyone to the boards and don't let anyone get interior.
Pittsburgh - Passing and skill plays. North-south style, fast skating.
Chicago - Shots! lots of them, from everywhere. Puck pursuit. Fast skating.
Vancouver - Puck possession with skill plays. Hard hitting in defensive zone.
Boston - Hard hitting, slow tempo, push everyone to the boards
LA - North-South offence with hard hitting defensive zone coverage.
I am aware that this is a drastically oversimplification of their respective styles, but never the less it is more or less correct. They do not all play the same style of hockey, but most of the players who enter into these teams buy into a "penguin" mentality, or a "red wing" philosophy, or the "bruin" style of play. It shows in how these teams draft, how they scout, how they prepare and how they play every game. Other teams adjust to them, not very often do these teams adjust to someone else.
How did they get these styles? Remember when LA was abysmal? or how about Chicago? Even the lofty Penguins had a really really bad stretch back in the day. These teams did not have these styles in place when the teams were floundering. They created them through the personnel they filled their teams with.
Detroit - Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Osgood
Pittsburgh - Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Fleury
Chicago - Toews, Kane, Keith, Crawford
Vancouver - Thing 1, Thing 2, Luongo/Schneider
Boston - Marchand, Bergeron, Chara, Thomas/Rask
LA - Kopitar, Carter, Doughty, Quick
Some of the biggest names in all of hockey are on this list. Is it any wonder the best players dictate the style of play you have as a team? Do you think Crosby would work in a shut-down big-hitting offence like Boston? Do you think the players from any one of these teams could just switch sides and immediately fit the style of play requested of them?
I am sure they would be tremendous, regardless of the style they played in, but if Boston (somehow) aquired Crosby and put him on the first line, Boston is no longer a hard hitting, war of attrition type team. Your best players have to be your best players because they are the ones who propel your team to success.
Who are the stars best players?
Dallas - Benn, Eriksson, Dillon, Lehtonen
See? That could work (pending Dillon doesn't hit a sophomore slump). You could debate putting Goligoski in that spot, but I favor Dillon over goose personally.
So...knowing who are best players are, what should be our style? Benn and Eriksson play a north south game for sure. Chaisson, Fraser, Eakin, Smith, Roussel, and Garbutt all fit that style to the letter.
Dallas has also been drafting and recruiting defense men who are big, hard to knock off the puck, possession type d-men with a big shot. Oleksiak, Dillon, Benn, Nemeth, Morrow, Connauton (I still can't spell his name right), Gaunce all fit that bill. In fact, the only (2) d-men that don't have this attribute are Larsen and Goligoski.
Kari is of course Kari.
So...a north-south offence that generates a lot off of speed plays, with a big physical defense behind them and a goalie who has shown how elite he can be. When the play breaks down, the forwards fall back to help the D out and the D are in position to help the goalie out.
I don't know about you, but that sounds like an identity to me. Be sound defensively in your own end and push the play straight up the ice. I could definitely get behind a team like that.