On Tuesday night, a hockey game was supposed to be played at the American Airlines Center.
Said individuals were on a supposed journey of redemption and reclamation on their home turf, attempting to prove to the doubters and naysayers that all of the frustration, struggles and hardships of this young season were merely an illusion -- and that the real Dallas Stars were soon to appear.
Perhaps the actual illusion was the thought that this would be a team that wasn't just as good as the Stars of 2013-14, but a team that could actually be better.
Something happened that Sunday night in April, when the Stars seemed to be on the path of glory with a two-goal lead late against the Anaheim Ducks. Perhaps in one fell swoop all of their confidence and energy and momentum was swept out from beneath their feet, because ever since that game this has not been the same team at all.
Not even close.
The Stars shot to an early 2-0 lead, with Jamie Benn even getting on the scoreboard again, and then decided to have their third period meltdown early by allowing four goals in the middle frame and exiting the second period to a chorus of boos from the home crowd.
Everything that had gone wrong in the past six weeks continued to go wrong, and not only did the Stars not show any progress but continued to regress and with each goal scored against -- looked more and more out of sync, out of sorts and exactly like a hockey team that has no idea how to fix what is wrong.
The Stars showed signs of life in the third period and finally started to create space and show some offensive creativity, but after the disaster that was the second period it was just too little, too late. The Stars gave hope by pulling to within a goal with just over seven minutes remaining....but it was too little, too late.
It's frustrating because this was supposed to be a season of improvement.
It's maddening because hockey in Dallas was getting a buzz again, and while the team may turn things around this sort of start after the summer was the last thing this franchise needed.
Worst home hockey team in the NHL.
A hockey game was played on Tuesday night, but the Dallas Stars didn't seem to get the invitation.