I'm trying to get my words together about this story, but I really feel like I should share it. First off, if I seem a bit different in the comments, I'm sorry. I haven't been in the right mind emotionally and sometimes might blurt out what's on my mind rather than thinking about it. Hence why I'm even worried about writing this story.
Well, In November 2012, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was an incredibly difficult time after because I was worried about the worst. But my parents just kept telling me that it was only Stage 1, and seeing the treatment stats, the numbers looked really good. I didn't worry. Around that time a couple months later, hockey started and my mom, who hadn't been into many sports other than Football, wanted to actually watch it when my dad wasn't going to be back home in time for the opener. She loved the sport at first sight and particularly was interested in Jagr. Probably because he was 41 at the time and still kicking. He had a 4 point night that night for the Stars as they beat the Coyotes 4-3. And yes, I realize the irony in telling this story around the time I'm telling it, the Stars are deep into a playoff race with said Coyotes right now.
We watched the sport a lot over the year, she was disappointed that the Stars didn't make the playoffs last year just like the rest of us, but was looking forward to the next year, especially when I showed her clips of Tyler Seguin and his ability.
That year her cancer got worse. She had been misdiagnosed and a stage 1 turned into a stage 3. The treatments weren't working and it really looked desolate for any hope of her getting better. She still watched the games, but her mind had been affected by the entire sickness.
And it was December 15th. Cowboys VS Packers. We all watched that game. We could tell her time was coming soon, but she still watched the game with whatever she had left in her mind to do so. And in that game, Matt Flynn of the Packers came back from 23 down on the last drive to stun the Cowboys. As any Cowboys fan would tell you, it was a bad loss. And worse, it looked like my mom wasn't going to make it through that week.
December 16th rolled around and I had to miss the Stars game to take care of her. The Stars lost that game. But December 17th came and we were able to watch that game. The Stars won 3-2 on Colton Sceviour's 3rd period late goal and it really cemented the impact he had on the team in general. But it was important. For the first time in a while, I actually felt okay. For the first time in a while, it seemed like my mom was a bit happy for something.
Shortly after, she wasn't able to see the Stars games and a week later she passed away.
But the fact that the last sports game she ever saw wasn't the Cowboys melting down against the Packers in a scene a lot of us have seen all too much before, it was the Stars getting a win against a very good hockey team.
And really, that's what makes hockey so good. It's not about storylines. Basketball's about storylines and we see them all the time. "Where's Lebron James going to go? How is that one team's streak going? Have you heard this story about this player?" Baseball's about storylines. "This player is being overpaid. This team is overpaid. How much CAN this team be overpaid by and how many titles can they win?". Football is so much about storylines. Seattle's first title. Romo's collapses. Aaron Hernandez. Jerry Jones.
Hockey's simple. It doesn't need storylines. It can have them, like what the Stars are going through right now, but It doesn't rely on them. It doesn't need free agents who think they are above the team and "graciously" take a pay cut to join a team. It doesn't need the fact of teams being stuck in ruts for eternity like the Cubs. It uses a reduced salary compared to star players in other sports and a hard cap so teams like the New York Yankees or Big 3s in basketball can't happen, where every team can be beatable on any given night. It uses a system so well that teams who place 5th constantly can still build themselves back up to not only a playoff contender, but a dynasty. And it can have miracle runs. Like (ugh) the 2012 Los Angeles Kings.
And really, that's what makes hockey so good. That people like my mom can find a team to go for and not worry about the schematics like the storylines, they get to watch the players and love them, no matter what team it is. They can find at least one player to really attach to and like. Steve Ott used to be a fan favorite here, that's the extent this holds.
No matter what happens this year at all, make the playoffs or not, I'm always going to remember 2 games this year. The first is Mike Modano's retirement night. That was an iconic moment for Dallas sports in general where you had people from every Dallas sport come and honor the greatest Stars player of all time. The second is one even more special to me, and that's December 17th, 2013. For making my mom's last moment of watching sports memorable and enjoyable.
God bless the Stars and God bless hockey.