[Meandering and lengthy one today. Links are below as usual if that's all you're here for.]
The Stars' third line (last year's second line) is one of the most loathed in hockey, largely because of the presence of two players: Ryan Garbutt and Antoine "Dominic" Roussel. For instance, the first result on YouTube for Antoine features multiple mentions of the word "villain." And the first YouTube result for Garbutt? I'd rather not talk about it.
Of course, we mustn't forget Cody Eakin, whose first YouTube hit...well, it's basically a "meh" version of the Jamie Benn/Jarome Iginla tilt. Not quite as earth-shattering as Garbutt or Roussel's top videos--just listen to Ralph and Razor's voices when they realize whom Iginla is fighting in that clip--but it shows a side of Eakin that we often forget about.
The notable thing about this line together, though, is the number 47. That is how many goals the trio scored last year getting more or less second-line minutes (and very minimal power play time as well). They ranked 3rd, 5th and 6th on the Stars in scoring, and now they will have the luxury of being deployed on command whenever Lindy Ruff feels like putting a thorn in the side of his opponent. This will be either a figurative thorn of blistering speed and the not-too-shabby offense that this group can bring, or an also-figurative thorn of walloping, yapping and scrapping for the entirety of their 40-second shift. Their volume switch has two settings: "Off" and "Turn down that racket." They need to upgrade their stereo equipment, sure, but they promise to be quite a hockey handful if they can build on their success of 2013-2014.
Like most things in this world of ours built upon math, this line is made up of individual and distinct components. As such, it seems only fair that we give each player more of a spotlight than simply linking their most-viewed video clip: They need theme music. And not just "tastefully edgy" music like baseball players use for walkup songs, no. We're looking for themes that encompass the personalities and humors of these players in the same way that you can relate infinitely better to a particular Ninja Turtle than the rest of them because of who you are. This is what we're looking for, and I think only one artist can really supply us with the proper palette of personality and perspicuity for this task: Ben Folds (I am using the first person plural a lot here, but relax--I'm going to choose them all myself. No polls here, friends!)
Ryan Garbutt: "Still Fighting It"
I like to picture Ryan Garbutt singing this song over Skype to his Andorran pen pal in the locker room after getting ejected for spearing Corey Perry. Like Mr. Folds, Garbutt sees a lot of himself in his pen pal, Beatriu. Ryan tries to caution Beatriu not to follow in his footsteps, letting his gamesmanship undercut the strength of his character and reputation. Ryan has done great things for his friends and his teammates, but he hates himself every time he winds up crossing the line, unable to stop himself. Just last Tuesday morning, Ryan was eating breakfast (Quaker Oatmeal Squares with whole milk) when he got a letter from Beatriu, who has spent the last six months in a juvenile detention center on the Balearic Islands. "I want you to know, my friend Garbutt," she writers, "that I knocked down my counselor today just like that, just with my hand you see, as soon as she tried to give me advice. I am like you, Ryan, against Mr. Neil of Ottawa. I showed my counselor to be Chris Neil today. We shall be strong together someday, when I escape from this plexiglass box they now keep me in during the daytime. It is cold here. Your friend, Beatriu."
Tonight, all Ryan can do is stare at the rising gibbous moon and wonder how he--how anyone--can stay on the right side of that line. Beatriu must know, she must see for herself what true peace can do for the soul. Maybe the time has come for Ryan to finally learn this peace for himself.
Cody Eakin: "Learn to Live with What You Are"
Cody, my old friend. You are such a wonderful player. So often compared to Stu Barnes and even Guy Carbonneau, you hold within yourself that admirable trait of worker-bee perseverance that can seldom be taught to NHL players who don't have it from the outset. We traded the player most unlike you in the entire universe to Washington, and they shipped you to us in return, one suspects, simply because your noble red locks clashed with their Winter Classic jerseys. You try so hard, and you never back away from a challenge. You worked hard to gain the skills you have, and you continued to scratch and claw your way up the lineup ever since your arrival without making a peep, trying to ignore the "not a true second-line center" comments that followed you everywhere.
Alas, it seems we've reached the end of that improbable ascent. Your organization traded quite a few assets to get a player to do your job better, and given the makeup of your linemates, you know full well what you will be expected to do this coming year, and those things generally don't involve any of the key words used in the inspirational "top six" posters all the really good players have on their bedroom walls.
Cody, what can we say? You were a blessing to us when we needed one. Even from day one, the word got out that Dallas had picked up a very Good Young Player, and you have proven to be every bit that. We hope that you can be happy in your new position, relegated as you may be, and we hope that, in time, you can come to find true joy in your line of work. Even if it never leads to the metaphorical corner office of the locker room, who you are is beautiful, and we hope you can continue to teach us your game and its beauty while you continue to learn it for yourself.
Antoine Roussel: "Fair"
(As sung by Corey Crawford and the Chicago Blackhawks)
He shouted out his last word
And he (rumbled) through (our) yard
That goal. That celebration.
Even while we outshot you 50-18, you still found a way to have the last word.
Every couple nights or so
You know you pop into my dreams
I just can't get rid of you
Like you got rid of me
We sent Shaw after you, and he came back hurting. We still couldn't stop thinking about you, so we sent Bollig. You ignored him.
Why can't we stop thinking about you?
I guess she made her way
Through the mob too late to hear him say
That he'd gotten all he'd wanted
A crowd to watch him bear the pain
He'd been keeping in
All is fair in (hockey)
What demons have driven this man, this Roussel, to wreak such havoc? What pain must he have been holding onto that he now channels into this malicious frenzy of torment at Chicago's expense?
Perhaps we shall find out on October the ninth. Because I don't think any of us would believe him when he tells us that he has gotten all he wanted. No. This man...he cannot be trusted.
And we love him for it.
* * * * *
The Stars have extended their affiliation with the ECHL Idaho Steelheads! (Unrelated: Did you know Idaho is like, right next to Washington? Check out how Moscow, Idaho is right on the border there. And you have to wonder if maybe the University of Idaho was built as close to the border as possible for a reason. Well, you don't have to. Anyway, Idaho is great.) [100 Degree Hockey]
Mike Heika thinks the Stars might make a run at obtaining Brent Seabrook in the next year or so. [DMN]
Puck Daddy wonders if Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin could win the Art Ross trophy this year. This is what I've been saying! [Puck Daddy]
And here's the article that probably spawned that article, except this one is exclusively about Tyler Seguin scoring all the points. Yes, please. [The Score]
In fact, everyone is now predicting Seguin will win the Art Ross Trophy. THN...Everyone! [Twitter]
But what was Seguin doing while for-all-intents-and-purposes winning this trophy? Drafting players like Brett Ritchie in the Biosteel Tournament Player Draft. What is that? I don't know, so I guess I should click on this link. [TSN]
And here's a look at all the things there are to know about Jason Spezza, but I have to note the failure by Heika to grill him about that illegal stick he got nailed for once. When I run into Spezza at Zaxby's next month, you can be sure that'll be the first question out of my mouth. Unless I'm chewing. Gross! [DMN]
Mike Fisher is planning to be back sometime in late November. Just like those employees who are sick for four days straight, then come back the Friday before Labor Day Weekend. [Pro Hockey Talk]
On the Forecheck contemplates how Ryan Ellis might be used if (when) he is signed by Nashville. [OTF]
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a team of hockey lore, and as such, they get to build big monuments to great players of the past. Dallas isn't there yet, but Dallas has also been actually good within the last 800 years, so I'll pass on the jealousy, thanks. [Pro Hockey Talk]
As near as I can tell, the '80s of the NHL were like locking all the people who get to the front of Black Friday lines in a giant bounce house filled with a liberal assortment of wolverines and vampire bats. This is a great read. [Grantland]
The NHL is making a lot of money from playing hockey outdoors and crushing the souls of everyone at TSN. [Globe & Mail]
The Road to Hockey WAR, part 3. I like where this is going. [A.C. Thomas]
Lastly, Wes's article the other day made me think of this. I always hear Mulder in the "Are you serious?" line.