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Dallas Stars 2014 Season: Some Final Thoughts as NHL Hockey Returns

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My last reflection on the NHL lockout...ever.

Ronald Martinez

I feel as if I have lived a thousand lifetimes since the Dallas Stars last took the ice...

Aware of, yet painfully uninterested, in another Stanley Cup playoffs without the presence of the Stars...

The questions and uncertainties of the future of the team tossed asunder with a couple of shrewd trades and free agent signings...

A two-week trip to Europe, attempting to follow the drama of the NHL draft while walking two miles just to find a WiFi signal in Italy...

Another long offseason that carried with it the weight of impending frustration and heartache...

An entire semester of college, clouded by the memories of desperately following any and all news updates once the lockout had begun... A mounting sense of anger and betrayal that threatened to turn a hobby I loved into an obligation I despised...

Endless conversations with those closest to me, attempting to weave a path into the future and not knowing if Defending Big D would be a part of it...

The birth of a daughter who should have been shown a Dallas Stars game the night after she was born, a dream that I have had to postpone by more than three months...

The rollercoaster of a ride the past few weeks of the lockout took us on, when it became clear that the commitment to this sport and this team would override any sense of anger the moment the lockout was ended...

A lockout that should have cracked the NHL at its foundation, threatened the future of the health of the league -- and yet resulted in fan enthusiasm on a level not one person could ever have predicted...


These past two weeks have certainly been surreal. There were times during the lockout when I felt as if I was on the verge of packing up and leaving, of abandoning that which I felt had abandoned me. And yet, despite the despair suffered during a four-month lockout, I found myself more committed than ever before.

Perhaps it's the thought that, for the first time in longer than I can remember, the Dallas Stars finally have the support and infrastructure any successful franchise would need. That there is finally a plan being put into place, a direction that fans can see and embrace and support.

It could be that there's a sense of obligation in my heart to see this through to the end, to say to myself when the Stars finally make it back to the postseason that I was there through it all -- that I was there for every failed season, for every frustrating and heart-pounding victory, for every despicable day of that forsaken lockout where hockey writers spent months pretending to be business experts.

That no matter how I might have felt during these lost months, there is still a future ahead where Jamie Oleskiak roams the blue line while Jamie Benn centers a line with Loui Eriksson and Alex Chiasson, with Matej Stransky and Brett Ritchie forming one of the more well-rounded young lines in the NHL with Radek Faksa at center. A future that was years in the making, years where we were right there -- every step of the way.

That after all is said and done, I was going to return no matter what, for this thought alone.

Perhaps, after all is said and done, I was the reason for the lockout.


The Dallas Stars will be back on the ice tonight at the American Airlines Center for the first time since April of last year. This is a franchise on its way up, a team with promise and great potential on the horizon as we buckle in for what could be a rocky ride through an intense 48-game season. It's clear that this is a team in transition, a franchise looking for a fresh start with a new owner and a new look on the ice.

Make no mistake; the Dallas Stars roster taking the ice this season is perhaps unlike any other Stars team to play in Dallas. There will be struggles and hurdles along the way, and the Stars will be battling for a now-elusive postseason berth.

The Dallas Stars playing on Saturday against the Coyotes will usher in the start of the NHL season at a time when many of us are struggling to remember exactly what this was like, when the anticipation of the drop of the pick dominated our every thought of the day. We had become so ingrained in the daily drama of the lockout that I have nearly forgotten what the daily grind of season coverage is; a grind with an unmistakable thrill that makes each season far shorter than it should ever have been allowed to be.

For months it felt as if this day would never come, that the Dallas Stars would threaten to become a figment of my imagination.

Yet here we stand. Celebrating a triumphant return of the NHL to our everyday lives from a hiatus that was everyone's fault except for the fans. Fans who wonder why they turn out by the tens of thousands to training camp and open practices while wondering why the NHL appears content to take the fans for granted.

The reason is...this. All of it. That feeling inside us that compelled you to read this article on a Saturday and compelled me to write it at three in the morning.

Perhaps the NHL truly did understand this all along, that for most fans the love of the sport and of their team would mean continued growth for the league, especially if there was still a season to celebrate. I still have lots of anger over the NHL lockout and that sense of personal betrayal has never left. Perhaps these feelings will always remain, a reminder of what some of us lived through while others -- smartly -- just refused to pay attention.

I wrote once that the NHL lockout was teaching me how to not miss the Stars or NHL hockey.

Instead, the lockout has created a conviction that the passion I have for this team and this sport is, indeed, unconditional.

Game on.