Dear Dallas Stars,
It's time to have a heart-to-heart.
You see, I've been following you for many years now, much like many of the fans I know. We were there when you played those epic four-overtime-marathons versus the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference semi-finals. Through empty buildings and boring teams, with no help seemingly on the way. Or how about that season where you had to have Chicago win their game and all you had to do to get into the playoffs was to beat the Minnesota Wild and then we got that gut-punch 5-3 loss?
Honestly, it's been a little bit of a lopsided fandom going on here. I'm there and you....well, sometimes you couldn't be there the way I wanted you to be.
I was patient, though, and I stuck by you through all those long, sad times. As trades were made to add pieces like Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp, the addition of exciting prospects and an owner that wasn't afraid to put money into the franchise again all led to a sense of excitement. There was an understanding that there was a plan, a purpose, that the team I put so much time and passion towards was no longer floundering.
And then it happened. I saw the playoffs live, in the American Airlines Center, for the first time in my fandom. It was indescribable.
Then the gut-punch that was game six versus the Anaheim Ducks happened. I couldn't talk about it for days. Why would anyone want to consciously put themselves into this situation year in and year out. Why?! It hurt too much to watch a decent season come to an end like that. (Then I thought to myself, maybe I should take up crocheting. That's a hobby that is nice and stable.)
It hurt worse when the team didn't make the playoffs the next year.
Now, here we are. We're back at this again. I'm still here, back for another round. This team looks better than any I have seen in recent memory. They look legitimate. Instead of finding ways to lose games each night, they're finding ways to win -- even when they aren't playing at their top performance any given night.
My heart is starting to believe that this, this right here, this magical start to the season that is the best in franchise history, is for real. That this could be the year the Stars not only make the playoffs but actually make some noise when they get there.
And then that pesky head says, "You've seen this before. Don't believe the hype until it's a tangible, confirmed playoff team. They've gotten your hopes up before and found all sorts of new and creative ways to break it once again."
But this team feels different. They're beating teams they should (outside of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche, who I have to believe this team will finally beat this season.) They're playing some of their best hockey against some of the best teams in the league. There is hype and media attention and a palpable excitement with this hockey club.
And though my head says not to, my heart is screaming "I BELIEVE!"