Next summer marks the 20-year anniversary of the Dallas Stars arriving in North Texas, when this incredible sport was inexplicably embraced by a town and region traditionally devoted to football and baseball. Leading up to this season we'll be counting down the top players who have had the honor of wearing the green, black and gold as well as a look at the best games and moments we've been privileged to have been a part of as fans.
As we've spent the past few months combing through 20 years worth of games and moments it's become clear just how much things have changed despite the feeling that not much time has passed at all. It's amazing to think that two decades have passed since I first stood in the concourses of Reunion Arena and watch players like Shane Churla, Neal Broten, Russ Courtnall and Darcy Wakaluk walk past on their way to taking the ice.
The Dallas Stars were never supposed to work in this area and through an incredible amount of hard work and marketing, along with the brilliant plan of how to build a model NHL team, this franchise proved that hockey is a viable sport. For 15 years the Dallas Stars were one of the model franchises in the NHL, one of the most successful teams in the league over the time, before proving that even the most stout organizations can fall victim to financial issues and ownership problems.
It's been 20 years of ups and downs with the Stars but we've been lucky to have plenty of good times to try and choose from. The Stars have been involved in several of the most memorable NHL games of the past two decades and while those moments have been relatively sparse lately, this has always been a team that has a flash for the dramatic.
After the jump, so further thoughts on what the past 20 years have meant and a look ahead at our upcoming retrospective series.
The Stars arrived in Dallas in 1993, the year of my tenth birthday and the exact moment when I discovered my love for this sport. My brothers and I would play countless hours of driveway hockey, putting up makeshift goals that I would then protect with a pillow tied around my chest and a baseball glove on my hand. Over the years my love and devotion for this team would grow with my love of the sport, when I started competing as a goaltender yet still dwarfed by the amount of time I'd spend in the street playing with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood.
The ease of watching games, even if you lived in Dallas, was not what it is now. There were no online feeds or highlights and I would spend many nights listening to the late-nigh West coast games on my radio and the good ol' WBAP feed we all grew up with as Stars fans. I can still remember the feeling of falling asleep in the 2nd period and not waking again until early in the morning and the panicked search for scores on one of The Ticket or KLIF.
Going through all of these games and moments of the past 20 years has been like going back through the big moments of my life, as my existence through the world has always followed along with my love of sports and this team in particular. I can remember exactly where I was when Brett Hull scored his two goals on New Year's Eve, or when Andy Moog failed to stop a breakaway shot from Todd Marchant. I remember tumbling down the stairs with the dogs barking around me when Brett Hull scored the Cup-winning goal in the early hours of a June morning.
We've been spoiled and privileged to have followed a team with so many great moments in so short of a time, which has made the heartache of the past few years so tough to handle. To see such anger and disappointment from fans, to see the arena so empty when the players on the ice, the coaches or even the general manager did nothing to create the situation that had driven them away. This has been a time of healing for many these past few months but it's safe to say that the rebuilding process of the Dallas Stars is going to be more than just putting a better team on the ice.
The past four years have been tough for the Dallas Stars and their fans, a period of time of struggle and mediocrity that was not known in the previous 15 years. It's easy to say that we were spoiled as Stars fans, following a team that was consistently one of the more successful regular season teams in the league and almost always promised a postseason appearance at the end of the season.
So used to the idea of the playoffs were we that making the postseason wasn't enough; first round failures and playoff disappointments were met with a incredible amount of criticism and disdain -- fueled by the high standards of the town and what the Stars had already been able to accomplish in their short time in Dallas. As each season has progressed without a postseason appearance we've seen the lows get increasingly lower and paralleled with the search for a new owner, it's safe to say that this organization has survived its lowest point yet.
Which is why I feel this journey is so important for Stars fans as we approach their 20th year in Dallas, to relive the great times and realize that along with so many high moments of the late 1990s we have still enjoyed some incredible moments the past few years as well. It may have been tough to see the Stars so close the past few years but at least they were close; for many fans, even that outcome is much more enjoyable than the alternative.
Over the next five to six weeks and leading up to what we hope will be training camp in September, we're going to be taking a look at the following:
Top 20 Dallas Stars Players: This was the list that was up to the most debate amongst us writers, as we all had different criteria for who belonged on the list. Do we include players still on the team? What is the minimum amount of games needed to be on the list? I'm sure that some of our decisions will create a lot of debate, something I'm looking forward to.
Top 10 Playoff Games: Did we choose just the big wins or the most memorable and historic games as well?
Top 10 Regular Season Games: Do you know how tough it is to narrow down 10 years worth of games into a 10-game list?
Top Dallas Stars Moments: Perhaps something big happened in a game but the game itself wasn't as important. We'll discuss those moments each weekend.
If anyone wants a look at other aspects of the past 20 years, let us know. We could potentially have plenty of time before training camp starts and we have 20 years worth of moments and players to choose from. This is going to be a wild ride, so buckle up and hold on.