In case you had not heard, the Dallas Stars Hockey Club is holding the annual Icebreaker event this Saturday at Galleria Dallas. All the big names look to be attending, including Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Just about every hockey team holds some sort of event around this time of year--even if most of them don't charge $40+ to attend--and the Stars' version certainly sounds like it will be one that hockey-starved fans can look to in hopes of slaking their summer thirst for Dallas Hockey.
This year will be a little different, though:
Ice Breaker, which is free and open to the public, serves as the official kickoff to the Dallas Stars hockey season. The event at Galleria Dallas provides fans the chance to meet their favorite players, and introduces North Texas to the newest faces on the team. Fans in attendance will have the first opportunity to get photos with and autographs from a special new member of the Stars family.
That last sentence isn't the only teaser. The Stars have actually Tweeted two photos (here and here) that show basically a cowboy boot-thing and some silly oversized sneakers like mascots wear. Because that is what everyone is inferring the Stars are going to reveal on Saturday: A new mascot.
The history of the sports mascot is actually kind of fascinating and awful. One example: The Chicago Cubs employed taxidermy for the obvious purpose in the early 1900s before later using a live bear cub in an official capacity. If this seems too awful to be true, then go edit Wikipedia to change it.
So, okay, the Stars probably aren't going to use their namesake in any literal or figurative sense, and I suppose it's too much to ask to set my heart on a gigantic cartoony Carl's Jr./Hardee's star stuffed halfway into a boot like when you use a pillowcase that's too small. Think about how amazing that would be for a moment, just a hugely inadequate cowboy boot with a pained-but-smiling star spilling out of it with arms and legs. Now realize that whatever is revealed on Saturday will have much broader appeal than that (unless somebody gets working on a costume design and faxes a drawing over to Jim Lites right now, hurry!) and join me in speculating about what creature of Tom Gaglardi's imagination will soon become all visiting teams' nightmare.
First, a quick primer on the existing DFW mascots:
- Rowdy, the horror-movie cowboy with a terrifying expression frozen on his face. I have posited that he holds Medusa-like powers.
- Rangers Captain, our favorite mouth-agape horse that was named by a finance committee at the end of a six-hour board meeting.
- Mavs Man and Champ, an example of what abominations can occur when a team tries to double down on partially anthropomorphized symbols of its state.
- Tex Hooper, a wincing bull whose height is listed at "6 ft. plus horns" despite the fact that his horns don't actually make him any taller.
Actually, looking at the list above, Saturday should be amazing, because with even minimal effort, the Stars will be the proud owners of the best mascot in the Metroplex. Great job, Dallas!
One of my friends was the mascot for his college for a couple of years, and he has lectured me about the intense preparation and determination it takes to achieve a level of high respect in this noble profession. Not only are you expected to be your team's number one athletic supporter (I stole that joke from him), but you have to create energy ex nihilo, which is quite a tall order when your team is getting throttled or the building is just flat dead. As a result, most of the people who Mascot on a regular basis have very little sense of humor about their job.
But what a buzzkill. it's more fun to assume that, just like clowns, all of the mascots are played by incessantly happy people. Yay! And with that newfound enthusiasm, let's look at the diametrically-opposed directions the Stars might go with this idea.
The Columbus Blue Jackets.
From this article, which is entitled, Some of the Worst Ways to Promote Hockey Ever:
At first thought it makes sense that the Columbus Blue Jackets would use a cannon mascot to promote their new third jerseys which feature a cannon logo. The Blue Jackets have used Civil War imagery for a long time and this seems like a natural extension of that theme. Of course, the problem is that Boomer doesn’t exactly look like a cannon...
Lewd comparisons aside, 'Lumbus got themselves into trouble from day one on the mascot front when they mixed their bee/war metaphors. it took them forever to decide whether or not they were the Blue Jackets as in the blue raspberry (because it doesn't exist either) of yellow jackets, or whether they were all about the Civil War, a time when family members took up arms each other and slavery was still kind of a huge thing in the United Stated of America. Talk about a win-win-win! Honestly, that was never going to end well.
The Stars have a multitude of bad choices that they could employ in their own version of this ill-fated scheme. Some regrettable choices might include things such as but not limited to: The Alamo, Oil Tycoons, Stereotypes, Largeness sans Largesse, Tall Tales, and anything remotely bovine because people will just call it Mooterus no matter how awesome it is.
My more realistic fear is that the Stars could, in a weak moment, go for something simple and corny, like a hockey player wearing a cowboy hat or actually any human cowboy, because it would be nigh-impossible to disassociate it from Rowdy, and who wants to catch whatever disease the Dallas Cowboys seem to have caught in the last couple of decades?
The new mascot combines all the best attributes of icons like the Philly Phanatic and the Famous Chicken. Dallas Stars Mascot Thing becomes a symbol of joy, pride and laughter not only at Stars games, but gradually for the entire city, perhaps even the state. Games are sold out year-round as fans ache to witness the stolid-yet-hilarious presence of the legendary figure, and children of all ages grow up treasuring that one picture taped to their bedroom wall of them smiling next to the incomparable Starboot, that lovably ingenious star stuffed into a boot. If executed perfectly, I don't think it's a stretch to envision Sir Starboot, Esq. achieving a status that sees him emceeing Cody Eakin's jersey number retirement night.
Even if the Stars do snub poor Lieutenant Starboot (he will pronounce it "leftenant"), they can't go wrong if they stick to a concept that's unique and sight-gag funny without being outlandish and cheap. There's a delicate balance that mascots have to achieve in order to worm their way into our hearts, and it's abundantly clear when some of them just won't be doing that no matter how hard they might try. Pick something clever without being pretentious, and hire someone who can take that character and give it character with their performance, mannerisms and antics. Zany antics are the best.
Or we're all wrong, and the Stars could just be tweeting pictures of Tyler Seguin's infamous shoe collection.
That said, I've heard a few pretty solid guesses about what the new mascot might be, but let's hear from everybody before I put forth my own hypothesis. What do you think the Stars' new mascot will (or should) be?
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Who wants to read more about John Klingberg? How about everybody in the world, yes please. [Stars Inside Edge]
Pierre LeBrun thinks very highly of the Stars in this piece, even dropping a Principal Skinner-esque "mercy." [ESPN]
Antoine Roussel notes that a lot of his penalty minutes were accrued through 10-minute specials, which are not "game-changers." Good stuff here. [Stars Inside Edge]
Mike Heika has his profile of Kevin Connauton up. Basically, poor Kevin Connauton unless someone gets hurt, in which case, poor someone. If only we'd had Kevin Connauton back when Jeff Woywitka was getting ice time. [DMN]
Number seven on this list is a thing that I like. Someone translate this sentence to Russian: "I like it a lot." [THN]
Tyler Seguin has been making a lot of noise (in a good way) in New York this week. Here's a wistful "what could have been if Seguin had stayed in Boston" article which is funny because I don't think Seguin ever left so much as he was literally sold like a business asset. [XN Sports]
Arctic Ice Hockey runs down the top Winnipeg defensemen in terms of possession. This will be something to remember when watching those 7-2 drubbings the Stars are going to be handing out this year. [AIH]
Hockey Wildnerness wonders how important Kyle Brodziak really is. The answer? He might be kind of a Minnesota Vernon Fiddler. [Hockey Wilderness]
Alex Ovechkin took part in something so bad it's really bad. The interview at the end is even better than the GIFs, though. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
Here are some unanswered questions courtesy of Down Goes Brown. Hey, maybe the Stars should pick up Martin Brhahahahahahahahaha [Grantland]
Stephane Quintal went from interim to permanent "new Brendan Shanahan" with the NHL's announcement of his official hiring. [CBC]
Here is a review of NHL 15, as if the hundreds of comments about it over the last month or so haven't been enough. Remember, you have to answer the mascot question in the comments before you can talk about video games, kids. [Hardcore gamer]
Finally, on a sobering note, Sarah Kogod has a very personal take on the Ray/Janay Rice situation. [SB Nation]