Imagine for a moment that you were a hockey fan or young player who was going to spend your Monday morning at the Dr Pepper StarsCenter in Plano. The absolute last person you'd probably expect to see there was probably Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.
But Crosby was indeed at the recently renovated facility, skating in a hard practice alongside nearly two dozen other NHL players, many of then current or former Dallas Stars.
The week-long "mini-camp," for lack of a better term, began Monday and was the brainchild of former and current Stars players, according to Mike Heika. The players involved, including Ryane Clowe, James Neal, Cam Fowler, Steve Ott and the group of current Dallas players who have been around town during the lockout, were coached by former Florida Panthers assistant Jim Hulton.
But the involvement of players from all over the continent does beg the question - why Dallas?
The weather, of course.
"I’m on the golf course right now, and it’s 80 degrees," said former Stars player Steve Ott, who was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in the summer. "I think it’s snowing in Buffalo."
While the seating area of the rink was locked, the public viewing area was open, at least on Monday. There are no guarantees of getting to see the players now that word has gotten out a bit, but the group is expected to practice in the late morning all week.
As far as other chances to see them, there's nothing currently on the docket. But Craig Ludwig hinted on Twitter that the Allen Americans would be interested in setting something up.
@mikeheika we here at the Allen Americans challenge the NHL'ers to a game with the proceeds going to charity...— craig ludwig (@taz3311) October 22, 2012
I'm sure there are all sorts of insurance issues involved and the idea may never get further off the ground than Ludwig's Tweet, but it would be a wonderful treat for Dallas area hockey fans if something could be pulled together at the last minute.
Also in today's links, this league seems determined to have a lockout-fueled Armageddon, a big year in store for Dmitry Sinitsyn and what happens when you cross the NHL lockout with Halloween?
- Might as well get the lockout stuff out of the way early. Stop my if you've heard this before, but the two sides are coming down to the wire here, and if you take out a magnifying glass, there might be tiny glimmers of optimism. [ESPN]
- It's almost a foregone conclusion that whatever CBA eventually gets signed won't be finalized in time for a full, 82-game season. But some out there aren't convinced that's a bad thing. [The Sporting News]
- More optimism, you say? Well the gap between the financial arrangements in the NHL and NHLPA offers is definitely getting smaller. [mc79hockey.com]
- Elliotte Friedman interrupts the lockout malaise with his always awesome 30 Thoughts column. My personal favorite: "If the NHL and the NHLPA want to make money now, they should sell a pay-per-view broadcast of both sides watching each other's media conferences." [CBC.ca]
- As a 2012 draft pick and one that will almost certainly have to slowly work his way up the ranks, the 2012 lockout isn't having a direct affect on Dmitry Sinitsyn right now. But the young UMass-Lowell defenseman is in for a huge transition of his own as he enters NCAA hockey. [Boston Herald]
- I'll be honest - until I read this article and looked up his stats, I'd completely forgotten that David Oliver had a stint with the Stars in the mid-2000s. Being a career grinder will do that for you. But I think his career path is a good examination what a guy like that can hope for out of a career. After all, Oliver clawed his way to more than 200 NHL games and a job in professional hockey after retirement. [Edmonton Journal]
- There's almost certainly a lot to be said for the life of a professional athlete. But Ellen Etchingham has a point that it's probably a lot less adventurous than we think in many ways as well. [Backhand Shelf]
- I'll admit, I'm not much for symbolic gestures by fans. But I do really enjoy this trend that crosses a protest against the NHL lockout and Halloween traditions. [Puck Daddy]
- Missing Stars hockey? I can't provide Dallas highlights, obviously, but the Stars have put together their excellent "Game in Six Minutes" feature for the Texas Stars. Here's their latest effort, though be warned it wasn't the game they were looking for.