"There are no worse critics than ourselves. We're hard on ourselves to get this going. And I think we're going to get this going here soon." -- Trevor Daley
The Dallas Stars came into this season with high expectations after acquiring Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky in the offseason. The season is by no means over, but the Stars ship is rapidly approaching the iceberg. At this point, the Stars thinking that they've officially crashed the 2014-15 season might be the best thing that could happen to the players.
Daley stated the problem pretty clearly. No one is harder on the players than they are. They are pressuring themselves to put the best product on the ice on a nightly basis because of heart or something. You're supposed to feel bad when you aren't meeting expectations, and you have to show people how badly you are taking failure or else they question your heart. You take it badly until the winning streak begins and the light gets brighter.
Spoiler alert: no winning streak is coming for this group the way they are playing. They don't deserve a winning streak. It isn't going to be handed to them. The harder they try the further and further away from success they will drift. Educated hockey people are laughing at how bad this team is because they are inexplicably awful despite significant talent throughout the lineup.
How bad do things have to get before you just throw your hands up and say "to hell with it"? It isn't easy for a prideful person to do, but there always comes a time when the ill wind is blowing the hardest that you have to give an honest appraisal of the situation in which you find yourself. The honest appraisal here, if the Stars are being fully honest with themselves, is that this team is awful.
And I think the Stars to a man know the results show they are awful, but they also know how much talent they have. The disconnect between results and talent leads to pressure, frustration, and bad feelings until the tide turns. As professionals you have to continue to work to make the tide turn, but it sure looks like the Stars are spinning their wheels.
Basically, it seems like they need a hug. They seem to have no confidence. They are afraid of making a mistake because they know what happens when they make a mistake: that puck is inevitably going right in the back of the net.
It isn't easy to do, but the Stars need to find a way to play stress-free. Can Jamie Oleksiak, Jyrki Jokipakka, Curtis McKenzie, Cody Eakin, or anyone else without long term financial security fully embrace that idea? Probably not, but when the core of the roster embraces a "screw it, just play" mentality the foot soldiers will follow. Jason Spezza isn't going anywhere. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are pretty safe.
What is the worst that can happen to Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley, Ales Hemsky, Kari Lehtonen, Shawn Horcoff, Erik Cole, Antoine Roussel, or Ryan Garbutt? At the end of a tough day in the office they are still going home to their families and lives of relative luxury. In the grand scheme of things everything will be OK, but in times of professional turmoil it can often be difficult to keep that in mind.
When the Stars relax their fortunes will turn, and they aren't going to relax until they bottom out mentally. At this point they aren't a playoff team, but here are some pictures of kittens. And a baby. And here is an internet hug, Stars. You are a talented team struggling something fierce. At this point it's hard to write anything negative about you because what's the point? Everyone knows. Just please relax, find your confidence, and right the ship.