ESPN is dipping its toe into the idea that the Dallas Stars may, in fact, be for real and not an apparition from the NHL Competition Committee's collective fever dream. The Worldwide Leader devoted yesterday's Morning 3-on-3 to a discussion of Our Gang's "fire wagon" style and whether it can succeed when Lord Stanley is on the line.
Pierre LeBrun gets the compliments out of the way first:
I will say this for the Stars: They play a beautiful game. I know that matters to owner Tom Gaglardi and general manager Jim Nill. The Stars aren't just winning hockey games; they're getting high marks for entertainment while doing so, something we only wish mattered for all 30 teams as defense once again takes over and a new "Dead Puck" era looks to be beginning.
But Joe McDonald sounds this familiar note of caution:
No question, the Stars are entertaining to watch, but their style will not take them deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. As you guys have mentioned, playing hockey in the spring is all about keeping the puck out of your own net first, and strong goaltending performances have been the norm for the last few Cup winners. I don't think the Stars have that.
Visit their website. They'll let you read the whole thing. [ESPN]
One of the great things about the holiday season is seeing videos like this: stars from the Stars bringing cheer to Children's Medical Center. Enjoy Vern Fiddler's highly hockey-specific caroling (and cosmetic enhancements), plus those Christmas tree deely-boppers Antoine Roussel is sportin' around.
The national writers may have come sniffing around, but this is still Mike Heika's side of the street. Read more from his weekly chat, as he answers a question about whether John Klingberg is being treated with "kid gloves" by the Stars coaching staff. [SportsDayDFW]
They are definitely working with him every day, but they also want to allow him to explore his creative side. We didn't see [Sergei] Zubov when he was young, but I know Rick Wilson made several exceptions for Zubov's decision-making when Zubov was with the Stars. That's what you have to do with exceptional talent.
Meanwhile, the NHL's reigning Art Ross Trophy winner and its current goal-scoring leader is just glad that he can still walk around Dallas without being recognized. (I'm talking about Jamie Benn, just so you know.) [SportsDayDFW]
Steven Stamkos would probably like a little of that, considering the furor that erupts every time he "likes" another tweet. Then again, that's three tweets about the Toronto Maple Leafs, which probably meets the enemy-action standard. [CBS Sports]
Did I mention the Rocket Richard standings? I'll just leave this here.
#NHL: Goals Benn 19 Kane 17 Tarasenko 16 Seguin 15 Hoffman 15 Duchene 14 Pacioretty 13 Ovechkin 13 Henrique 13 Marchand 13— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) December 9, 2015
"No deadline, no timetable, no assurances": In other words, same stuff, different day from the NHL Board of Governors on the expansion question. Dan Rosen has more from the annual meeting, including the latest on the next salary cap and the elimination of draft-pick compensation.
It was quiet – too quiet – in the 187 last night, as the Colorado Avalanche lost to the Pens 4-2 in the Central's only action. No word yet on how long the Avs will have to do without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was a late scratch due to a back injury.
Thanks, @YahooSportsNHL, for fixing that little oopsie about leaving Mattias Janmark out of the rookie scoring leaders list. 'Preciate the heck out of it.
#NHL rookies: Stars' Mattias Janmark also has 5 goals..couldn't fit him on last tweet...apparently there's character limit? Is this new...?— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) December 9, 2015
Meanwhile, Brett Pollock's terrific season with the Edmonton Oil Kings has just gotten better, as the Stars sign him to a three-year entry-level contract. [Dallas Stars]
Unfortunately for the Columbus Blue Jackets, they've lost goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to a lower-body injury for about three weeks. Officer Bob was hurt during Tuesday night's loss to the Los Angeles Kings. [NHL on NBC]
Retired NHL'er Patrick O'Sullivan – who was brutalized physically and emotionally by his "hockey dad" from early childhood – still sees parental behavior that "enables the same culture that allowed my father to treat me like an animal in front of other adults for so many years." In The Players' Tribune, he's written an article for the people who see but hesitate to act.
I guarantee you there's hundreds of kids across North America who will get dressed for hockey this weekend with their stomach turning, thinking the same thing I did as a kid:
"I better play really good there, or tonight is going to be really bad."
Finally: Hockey fan Natassa Terralbo survived last week's San Bernadino shootings only to have her home burglarized while she was attending a vigil for the victims. When the Kings learned that the stolen items included a cherished Wayne Gretzky sweater, the team decided to step in. [Puck Daddy]