The internet is just absolutely littered with top 10 this and top 10 that lists as the year comes to a close. Sportscenter is running top 10 plays of the year. Puck Daddy did top 10 jersey fouls, top 10 goals, etc, etc. So naturally we thought we would gunk up the place with a top 10 list of our own.
The order of the following is something the five of us debated at length yesterday via email and an agreed upon resolution was not reached, but that's what the comments are for. Keep in mind not all of these will necessarily be all positive moments, just moments of significance in the calendar year 2010.
Let's get right to it.
#10. Texas Stars Run to the Calder Cup Finals, lose to Hershey 4 games to 2.
This is one of my personal favorites and it pains me to put it so low almost. With the Stars out of the NHL playoffs once again, the inaugural season of Texas Stars hockey featured a run that took them very nearly all the way to the promised land. Having gone down to Austin for a game in each of the last two rounds I can tell you that this was not insignificant or taken lightly by any party. This was intense.
Jamie Benn took part and DOMINATED the AHL, nearly setting some scoring records for the AHL playoffs. He was truly a man amongst boys and it was a pleasure to witness. They built a strong tradition in only one year in Cedar Park, complete with a beautiful new building and yelling "Stars!" during the national anthem. It was a great story and we hope it wasn't the last time.
#9. The Stars sweep a back to back in the north east to open the 2010-2011 season.
This is a team that thrives with confidence. It happens in individual periods. It happens in games. It's happened in the season as a whole. The promising first half of this campaign stems from what looked at the time to be a pretty tough back to back set to open the season.
We didn't know that the New Jersey Devils were in hockey hell at the time. They put up a hell of a fight. The Islanders showed promise to but eventually faded. The Stars being such a poor road team last year, a 2-0 start to the year was unexpected by any rational prognosticators. This stellar start catapulted them to a great October and a fun season that we hope continues for three or four more months.
It's all thanks to a great opening weekend.
#8. The rise of Jamie Benn and the victimization of the leagues young defensive Stars...He has only nine goals through 35 games played but boy are they memorable. This #8 spot goes beyond that, however, back to his 20+ goals last season and his breakout AHL playoffs we already mentioned. Jamie Benn was not seen coming the training camp before last but here he is, an absolute phenom for what we hope is years and years to come.
This season he's made a habit of making stellar d-men look silly, stripping the likes of Tyler Myers, Drew Doughty and Erik Johnson. Here is a sampling:
That goal led to a second straight win that would eventually become a six game winning streak, perhaps one of the best moments of the whole season if the Stars make good use of it on their way back to the playoffs.
#7. Joe Nieweundyk and Frank Provenzano push the right buttons. (Andrew Raycroft, Adam Burish.)
The Stars were expected to do exactly nothing come free agency in July but they struck with surgical precision, as it turns out, landing two men who have made a huge impact on this locker room and on-ice performance.
Andrew Raycfroft has been nothing short of brilliant in the majority of his playing time and Adam Burish's attitude and demeanor are exactly the right kind of influence on a group in transition with the departure of three pillars of the organization.
The team and fans alike have faith in Raycroft. Burish and Ott have formed a talented checking line and Adam can play with Ribeiro and Morrow as well. Full marks for those signings and they are no doubt a big, big part of 2010.
#6. The 2010 NHL Draft and Jack Campbell
Seated right here where I am now, I watched the first round unfold with all of you as we kind of salivated in disbelief, watching defensemen sure to be on the top of everyone's board fall right into the Stars' lap, only to see them take 18 year old American net-minder Jack Campbell in a bit of a surprise.
Having talked to some people in Los Angeles at Staples Center beforehand, it wasn't entirely surprising to some of us but this decision rankles to this very day. Cam Fowler is becoming an NHL player with Anaheim while Jack Campbell plays (and excels) at the World Juniors this week.
Whichever side of the fence you fall on, that was quite a moment.
#5. February 9th, 2010. Kari Lehtonen traded to Dallas Stars during a game with the Blackhawks.
Approaching the Olympic break, the understanding was that the clubs position and play in an abbreviated six game February schedule would determine Marty Turco's fate and deem the team buyers or sellers. A Turco trade would not have been a blind side hit to the head, but a trade for Kari Lehtonen without Turco involvement was.
There was upside, certainly, and natural talent, but there was also Ivan Vishnevskiy (who we were told time and time again was going to be a great NHL player) and a history of crippling injury to Lehtonen to go along with a reputation of poor fitness and habits coming out of Atlanta.
10 months later and that all seems irrelevant. Lehtonen carried the club through October and continues to be a steadying presence back there making "that save" at "that time." We didn't know how big it was at the time but we know now. Kari Lehtonen was certainly one of the brightest moments this year.
#4. Mike Modano, Marty Turco and Jere Lehtinen move on.
Were this list "Top 10 Dallas Stars Stories" of the year by the national media this might make the top spot and even get cut up into multiple, more deserving pieces, but the fact is this: Stars fans were affected by it but were ready to move on as long as it was replaced with WINNING. And it has been.
The decision is still a polarizing one as far as Modano is concerned, but GM Joe has been proven correct thus far in the season. Point to an area of the game where the Stars miss Modano this year on-ice. Go ahead.
Exactly. From a PR standpoint does it hurt? Maybe so. We love Mike. Love him, love him, love him, but this has all seemingly worked out for the best for all parties. Even with the injury he'll be playing multiple playoff rounds this season with Detroit, and Dallas is on track to be back there as well.
Marty Turco had to go, unfortunately, and Jere Lehtinen made his peace with the game. These partings were bittersweet but the position the club is in now takes the edge off.
#3. Mike Modano Night - April 8th, 2010.
This being the magical, emotional, immortal night that it was it seems wrong to put it anywhere but #1, but the team comes first above any one player and that will always be true. So I hope you'll forgive the placement of this when you've read through the whole thing. Real fans root for the laundry, and Mike Modano's not wearing the Stars' any more.
Nevertheless just thinking about it gives anyone who was in the building goosebumps. It was a pure, unadulterated outpouring of emotion for the franchises greatest icon past, present and future. The way the game played itself out was like a movie script and if you didn't sport-tear up a bit when Mike scored in regulation and then again in the shootout, you're a robot. Or not a very good Stars fan.
We are probably unlikely to witness anything as meaningful as that the rest of our days. Thanks again, Mike.
#2. Stars fans learn that Tom Hicks will sell Dallas Stars.
Being a Stars fan before this revelation in February was difficult because the personnel was not ideal, the payroll had been greatly reduced, and there was seemingly no end to that in sight. We were without hope. Then came word that we had long awaited and dreamed about. They would be sold!
Months later the many frustrations of the sale process have set in and the wheels have stopped turning, yet the hope remains. This team will be sold. There will be a new owner. He will likely like hockey and want to win.
The developments since have been disappointing but the revelation that Tom Hicks, despite all he's done for the Dallas Stars over the years, was going away was surely one of the very top moments of 2010 for Stars fans.
#1. Dallas uses strong November/December stretch to share the Western Conference lead nearly halfway through the season.
What's happening on-ice is paramount to the fan, and as John Madden always used to say, "winning is a great deodorant."
The Dallas Stars were picked by anyone with half an analytical brain to finish 10th-13th in the Western Conference before the season began but unforeseeable success and chemistry have seen them rise all the way to the top, battling awful stretches of schedule and opponents to do it. They have been described by some as the surprise of the season league-wide.
We hope that week wasn't the last time the Stars share the top spot in the West, and we honor it here in our #1 spot as a way of saying that success on-ice is more important than the rest of this stuff. Just keep winning.