The Dallas Stars have been eliminated. Today is just Wednesday. Not the day-after Game 7 day. That's a bummer. After two solid weeks of feeling a new (or very old) way about this hockey team in the spring, it all went away in an instant, and now it's back to the old Defending Big D playbook of off-season content.
That content will continue daily, by the way, through the entirety of the off-season, even when all other outlets stop.
Where to start, though? Others have already started writing in this space. I have been struggling. I have too many questions.
Here's what's rattling around in my Stars brain as we dive into the off-season...In radio they call this "producing on-air"...
Is this really the start of something? Was it a fluke? Can they do it again? Can they go farther? How will Nashville respond? Vancouver? Phoenix? Won't the Jets have something to say? Can the Stars really fight their way out of that pack with consistency?
How lucky was this franchise to get Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff in one off-season?
How lucky were the fans? What didn't we see this season? Between the new colors and logo, the drafting of Valeri Nichushkin, the trading for Tyler Seguin, the dramatic road wins all season long, retiring No. 9, the lowest lows and some of the highest highs in recent memory, the Rich Peverley game, the clincher against St. Louis, and the wonders of three magnificent home playoff games -- what didn't we see? How eventful can a season get?
How much better can a first line of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin get?
Did the Stars ever really put together a second line this season? Will Ray Whitney's departure and freed cap space make it possible to get a more traditional offensive-threat in here to become a fixture in the top-six? Will Alex Chiasson be given that chance again? Will Erik Cole? Does their presence, along with Valeri Nichushkin, mean Ruff and Nill will have to cobble together another "second line" from what they already have?
How good will Nichushkin be next season? How will the continued maturation of his young body and soon-to-be English-speaking brain manifest itself in the fall?
What does Jim Nill make of Cody Eakin? Be he second or third line quality?
What will become of Rich Peverley? Can he play hockey again at all? If he can, can he play here? Can Alex Chiasson and those close to him, including Lindy Ruff, get used to the idea again? Would they ever be truly comfortable having him on the bench? What of his salary and cap hit if he cannot?
Will Tom Gaglardi spend to the cap? Will he even need to, given the Stars' pretty high-value contracts in the Chiassons, Nichushkins and Patrik Nemeths of the world, to name a few?
Did you know Vernon Fiddler is only 33? Will the Stars be interested in retaining his services after he was a pretty integral part of an exciting stretch run, despite rumors of requested trades and an unhappiness with his role early on?
Will the veterans that were questioned so often this year drop off even more next season, or can Shawn Horcoff, Sergei Gonchar and Erik Cole, knowing what this team's identity is now, make a stronger showing in 2014-2015 despite another grueling year on aging legs?
Who will be the backup in goal next season? Can Kari Lehtonen get them back to the playoffs again? Can he shake the question marks that inevitably surrounded him as the series wore on? Should he even have to? Would he not be considered an elite talent with St. Louis' or Chicago's or Los Angeles' blue line in front of him?
Will the Stars' blue line be unchanged next season? With all eight under contract, pending Brenden Dillon's RFA deal, will there be any room for a John Klingberg or a Jamie Oleksiak to push at camp? Any room for a UFA?
Will the Stars be active in free agency? Isn't it more likely, with a pretty full roster, that they'd be more active in the trade market again?
Is it time for more bold action, as last off-season, or is time to let this new iteration stew and develop in its new style and mode?
How awesome is Jamie Benn?
Will the new Star Wars movie be any good? Can the Sharks PLEASE really screw this up? Can Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski be THAT good, consistently in the regular season? Do they have the confidence they need now?
Who will fix the Stars power play? How?
And, chief among all these questions -- is it October yet?
We'll likely make a separate post about every one of these questions, and so much more. Inquiring minds, as they say, want to know.
What questions do you have heading into the offseason?