And so the season comes to rest at 37-31-14, and the Stars are the first team since Hockey-Gods know when to complete an 82 game season without winning three games in a row. The Stars earned 88 points, scoring 237 goals and surrendering 254. Last season they earned 83 points while scoring 230 goals and allowing 257. The numbers are strangely close. More on that later.
We knew it was going to be a tough year going in. Transitions are rarely easy; Certainly not ones like turning over half of the front office, the coaching staff, and the style of play. Yet spoiled as we are by so many years of success and playoff runs, we once again find ourselves a little peeved that the dance will start without us.
It's not all bad. This Modano business, while very sad (or pretty silly, if he comes back) has softened the blow and kept us engaged and interested this last week while they played out the string. It created one of the best night's in franchise history on Thursday, as a matter of fact. For me it's certainly made it much more bearable than last year, anyway.
Let's spend just a little more time on the man who's spent 20 years on us...
The Star Tribune in Minnesota has a nice blurb about Modano hooking up with Neal Broten:
Modano, the highest-scoring American in history, reunited with former North Stars/Stars teammate Neal Broten, one of Minnesota's hockey greats and a mentor to Modano as a kid.
Broten told Modano he should continue playing because he "only plays two minutes a game anyway" and joked, "I can still play two minutes a game and I'll take half of whatever he's making."
"He still acts and looks the same. Now he's a grandpa," Modano said of Broten.
Modano will make his retirement decision this summer. If this was his last game, Modano said it was special that it was in Minnesota.
"Rare and unique to say the least," he said. "I'm kind of exhausted and tired, and in some ways I'm glad the season's over. You need a break to get away. But you do get the itch at the end of July and August to figure out what you want to do."
And they had a good piece looking back on some early Modano years with the franchise...
During a difficult second season, North Stars marketing VP Lou Nanne said he didn't care if Modano struggled, just that he was on the ice: "He's a matinée idol. Just look at the jerseys in the stands. You used to see guys with them; now it's girls, and they all have his name on the back. ... You can't help but promote a kid like that."
After bouncing back that season and helping the North Stars to the Stanley Cup Finals against Pittsburgh, Modano talked about relationship-building with then-coach Bob Gainey: "Bob and I had an awful lot of meetings. We are both quiet people. We spent most of our time in those meetings looking at each other, waiting for the other guy to say something."
Mike Heika asked several players and management types about the attitude going forward...
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said the team has to be hurt from the results of the season.
``I think there is a hunger here and it will be there for all of our players this summer and especially for our key players,'' Nieuwendyk said. ``You don't want to miss the playoffs two years in a row. That's not acceptable for this franchise and where it's been, and it's not acceptable to what we want to do as a group. It really is unacceptable.''
Steve Ott said he believes in Nieuwendyk and his plan to make the team better. The Stars have some budget issues, but Ott said he feels the hunger from every level of the organization.
"Joe is probably a little bit hungry come July to make this team better," he said. "One thing that it pretty easy for me to sign here was that Dallas has a winning tradition. We don't take not making the playoffs lightly either. There's a lot of pride in putting on a Dallas Stars uniform."
He also asks the fundamental question about the Stars and Nieuwendyk's unusual mission right now...
It's a lot easier to find good defensive players on a budget than it is good offensive players. Phoenix ranks third in the NHL in goals against average at 2.30 but also has the second-lowest payroll at $42.1 million. Nashville has built its team on defense and has the third-lowest payroll at $43.5 million. So teams that typically win on the cheap do it with defense. But can a team on a budget install a highly skilled system? Well, Pittsburgh and Washington did so by getting young skill through the draft. That can take a while and usually includes some awful seasons and high picks. It's a good question. Why are they trying to win the expensive way with cheap players? Wouldn't it be better (isn't it tried and true?) to play a defensive game when you don't have money to spend?
It's a lot easier to find good defensive players on a budget than it is good offensive players. Phoenix ranks third in the NHL in goals against average at 2.30 but also has the second-lowest payroll at $42.1 million. Nashville has built its team on defense and has the third-lowest payroll at $43.5 million.
So teams that typically win on the cheap do it with defense.
But can a team on a budget install a highly skilled system? Well, Pittsburgh and Washington did so by getting young skill through the draft. That can take a while and usually includes some awful seasons and high picks.
It's a good question. Why are they trying to win the expensive way with cheap players? Wouldn't it be better (isn't it tried and true?) to play a defensive game when you don't have money to spend?
Dallasstars.com gathered some Modano quotes about the North Star jersey...
"I thought about wearing it in warmup and there was some ideas, but that was the one I still think of, of those times and my experiences here in Minnesota," said Modano, who played the first four years of his career there before the franchise relocated to Dallas in 1993.
The fact that the Stars prevailed 4-3 in a shootout didn’t really matter, as both teams were already eliminated from the playoff race. Clearly, Modano, who has been the face of the franchise since those days in Minnesota and is now strongly considering retirement, was the focus of the night.
"It’s hard to believe that it could be over, how fast it’s gone - the 17 years here and 22 with the team," said Modano, who was the first overall selection of the Minnesota North Stars back in 1988. "It feels like yesterday it started."
And let's not forget the Texas Stars as they start the post-season. Jamie Benn will presumably be joining them this week...[From Texas Stars PR]
West Division Semi Finals Schedule (best of seven)
Game 1 - Fri., April 16 - Rockford at Texas, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2 - Sat., April 17 - Rockford at Texas, 7:00 p.m.
Game 3 - Wed., April 21 - Texas at Rockford, 7:05 p.m.
Game 4 – Fri., April 23 - Texas at Rockford, 7:05 p.m.
Game 5 - Sat., April 24 - Texas at Rockford, 7:05 p.m. - X
Game 6 - Mon., April 26 - Rockford at Texas, 7:30 p.m. - X
Game 7 - Tues., April 27 - Rockford at Texas, 7:30 p.m. -X
X = If Necessary
The first two games of the West Division Semi Finals will be at Cedar Park Center. Game 1 is on Friday, April 16th at 7:30 PM. Game 2 is scheduled for 7:00 PM on Saturday, April 17th at 7:00 PM. The best of seven series will then shift to Rockford for Games 3 and 4. If necessary, Game 5 will be at the Rockford MetroCentre. If needed, the series will return to Cedar Park Center for Game 6 and a possible Game 7. Game 6 is set for Monday, April 26th at 7:30 PM and Game 7 is slated for Tuesday, April 27th at 7:30 PM.