So Puck Daddy is doing their annual "August is the worst" series again this year--as annual things are usually done--and Tuesday featured the Stars' entry. Well, sort of. There's your JackHull signing of [FLAGGED]
While it's a fun little feature in its own way, it pains me to see such a wonderful opportunity for mischievous mockery so sadly neglected. And this isn't just because they referred to the noble patriarch of the Beverly Hillbillies as Jed "Clampent." (Rule #1 of Tom Hicks Derision: Don't Distract from the Dis with Defective Diction.) I fully support any endeavor to look back upon the darker times of the franchise as we sit here today with a team awash in promise and prestige. No, it's more that I just happen to think the diem wasn't fully carpe'd on this one. So, without further musical ado, I present to you:
The Stars' Ugliest Moments, as chosen by science*
You can already tell this is going to be good, because I used the "Header 3" font for the title then a smaller font for the subcategories below. That is called descending order, which is sort of like the inverted pyramid, which is from Journalism.
Most Disappointing Season: 2005-2006
Everything was going to be awesome. Arnott and Modano were still producing at a healthy clip; Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Zubov were routinely dicing up goalies around the league, and the Stars sauntered into the playoffs with the #2 seed, and promptly got knocked right back out by Colorado in five games--an identical demise to that of the prior season.
The tough part about this was that it was, in many way, the Stars' last "real" chance to win it all with a good portion of their early 2000 core intact and productive. Modano would be demoted from the captaincy and experience some back issues over the next couple of seasons, never topping 60 points again; Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov would get older and less healthy, being forced to use their full allotment of veteran savvy just to keep up with most opponents' raw skills; and Marty Turco would struggle to shed the "playoff incompetent" image for the rest of his career.
And the way they lost those games against Colorado...just shoot me. 2 OT losses (one way too similar to Game 6 this year against Anaheim) and that horrific 1st game where we went from being up 2-0 to losing 5-2. It wasn't just that an almost effortlessly-dominant team got bounced by the #7 seed; it was the who and the how that really stunk for me.
Contributing factor: I was going to college in California at the time, and my brother would record the games on a VCR, then bring them over to the lobby that night after my last class was over, and we'd watch each game. Every. Stupid. One. So clearly, this is the right (wrong) answer.
Honorable Mention: 2010-2011 (You couldn't beat the Wild, Dallas Stars?)
Most Disappointing Star: Ivan Vishnevskiy
Rather than dropping Fabian Brunnstrom's name again, I present the daarkest-timeline version of our current beloved Russian sensation. I'd been hearing about Ivan's name for years, and not just because he was a 1st-rounder, but because of who he would be inevitably compared to every minute of his development. Yes, all we kept hearing about Vishnevskiy was that he was, say it with me, the Next Zubov.
I think I now know what happened, though. Vishnevskiy, over-burdened by the hopelessly unfair comparisons to an all-time great defensemen since the day he pulled a Stars sweater over his head, finally snapped. He tried--oh, how he tried--but from day one after his recall, he must have felt like everyone was staring at him expectantly every shift, every time he passed, every time he skated with the puck. It's tough for young players to develop the mental fortitude necessary to keep up with NHL-level competition; it's infinitely tougher when they have the hopes of an entire franchise's blue line riding on their shoulders. Whatever was Ivan to do?
This. He did this.
(No bonus points for being traded for Kari, either, although that will, I'm sure, appear in the Atlanta "disappointment" entry on some bitter Atlanta blog somewhere, someday.)
Most Disappointing Moment in Franchise History: 2000 Cup Final, Jason Arnott
Most Disappointing Stars Transaction Other than the Free Agent Signing of
Satan Dr. Demento Voldemort: Trading Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner for Jason Arnott and Randy McKay
It seemed like mere moments after the excruciating knife-twist of Arnott's cup-winner that he was suddenly being foisted upon us like a mandatory office safety demonstration video meeting right before that big conference call you're not prepared for. Nieuwy and Langenbrunner, two of the heart & soul guys from the 1998-2000 run, had been stripped from the team without a warning in exchange for that smirking, shifty-eyed Ontario-Jerseyite (note: ask someone if this is offensive before publishing) who had so recently destroyed and trampled upon the Stars' body. Sure, he would post the best numbers of the three in next few years--his 32 goals in 05-06 would be a big reason for Dallas' dominance during that season (though his 0 goals in the playoffs stand out to me more)--but he left at the first opportunity, and Dallas could only stand by and watch as Langenbrunner stuck with New Jersey, even becoming captain of the franchise, to the chagrin of this author. By the time we finally got him back, he was all wrinkled and used up and mullet-less. Nieuwendyk, of course, grew to resent Dallas so much that he decided to become our GM and stockpile our system with tons of great talent while simultaneously signing people like Jake Dowell and Adam Pardy or something. Clearly he was just trying to mess with the franchise by that point.
Plus, Randy McKay only scored 1 goal for Dallas, so screw him.
Most Disappointing Stars Coach/Executive: Marc Crawford and Brett Hull
You know their sins, which are specific. Hull was clearly not someone who should ever have been entrusted with personnel decisions of any kind, and Crawford's hair and "coaching" "style' was just so, so stupid and oh my goodness please make it stop now I can't take this why am I not blacking out yet we were WINNING that game against Minnesota and then what happened, what HAPPENED oh sweet gracious Gordie can I please go home now it hurts, the burning, the burning...why....it's just...why.......no I am NOT embedding that travesty of a video, thank you very much. /ralphs all over the keyboard
Hey, here's a video about Brett Hull, GM! I think Hull has thoroughly inserted his foot halfway down his esophagus by about the 0:45 mark. Also, he looks at the camera more than David Brent.
Most Disappointing Stars Fashion Choice: College Basketball Sweaters
Some people grew to like these, but the vast majority of features that make hockey sweaters unique among sports were systematically stripped away when the Stars were forced to abandon their classic "star" template thanks to the massive [what do you mean we can't use that word here?] at Reebok who decided to force the really well-designed and not utterly disastrous Edge system upon every team, ruining everything and making the dark years after 2008 that much darker for having lost the last visible vestige of the Stars' days as a cup contender. Here is a video of some guy opening a home Jagr jersey, which I guess people search for on YouTube?
The Mooterus was laughable, sure, but it was a third jersey among many silly third jerseys; it was only worn a few times each season, and it was at least a bit of a change of pace from the normal home/road garb. This was a long-term decision to go black/white and strike the crest from most of the sweater, eliminating all aesthetic appeal from a team that would have no other kind to offer for many years.
The Mooterus is like Spiderman 3; the black/white jerseys are like the Star Trek franchise reboot. This is a terrible way to end a post.
* * * * *
If you're having trouble tracking down a Dallas Stars sweater, I'd imagine they'll be hawking them at this event in Frisco, along with light brushes of Tyler Seguin's fingertips during autograph signings. [Twitter]
Rick Gosselin says the Stars are the DFW team "closest" to a championship. Tell that to Tim, Rick. [DMN]
Mike Heika has his annual summer profile on Kari Lehtonen... [DMN]
...as well as an answer to the question, "Why hasn't Jim Nill disappeared Sergei Gonchar yet?" [DMN]
WE HAVE VIDEO OF ROGER FEDERER PLAYING BALL HOCKEY WITH JASON SPEZZA (if you can find Spezza). It kind of looks like it would have been painful to watch (and listen to) in person. [NESN]
Dallas Eakins coaches the Edmonton Oilers professional hockey team, and he recently visited the Cowboys' camp to see how Jason Garrett does things. I cannot come up with a scenario in which those two things have any bearing on one another. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Here is my favorite link of the day, though it's a little bittersweet. A great look back at the 1992 USA Roller Hockey Olympic team, and how the sport almost made it into the Games to stay. [Sports on Earth]
EA Sports has released the ratings for the top five goalies in NHL 15. Not sure how Rinne gets in at #5 after missing most of last season and playing for the Barry Trotz Predator Team Defense Machine. [TSN]
Here's what the player tracking system used by the NBA looks like; we could see this implemented in the NHL within the next year or so, assuming there's not another lockout, ha ha ha...ha..... [Sporting News]
Speaking of the Mooterus, this isn't news except in the most figurative sense, but has anyone every noticed that this thing has a whole lot in common with this other thing? Same general design structure, same "this is totally a relevant-yet-fresh logo for our team" image, same embarrassed reaction to seeing it by [the Calgary fans]?
That roller (rink) hockey article is bittersweet because Sports On Earth just got absolutely gutted. A sad, sad day for online sports journalism. It is Wednesday, and we should all be sad. [Awful Announcing]