If the Stars ever renamed themselves, here is a good name: The Dallas Hippopotamuses. Not because they are a giant grey mammal that attacks humans, necessarily; and not even because they are often confused for the Hiphopopotamus.
In case you haven't figured it out by now, hip surgery is kind of the opération du jour in Texas hockey. Jamie Benn is getting both hips done, Hemsky went in for a little Shakira action of his own, and even Trevor Daley decided to re-do the old femur sockets over the offseason.
Not all surgeries are created alike, of course. Your hips and those of the person in the cubicle next to you likely wouldn't be confused for one another, whether on the operating table or the local discothèque. Hockey players' hips, while almost assuredly more appealing than ours, are the same way, which is to say, they are different. And as Mike Heika reports in a really superb piece, the Stars are approaching each hip surgery very carefully to ensure that they are doing the right thing for the player and the team:
Benn is dealing with Femoroacetabular Impingement or bone spurs that form on the head of the Femur. Those bone spurs can then rub against the labrum and cause damage on the cartilage. Depending on the size of the spurs and the intensity of damage to the labrum, the injury can be unbearable or just nagging.
"They are starting to figure out a correlation between FAI, sports hernias, groin pain and labral tears. That’s kind of where it brings us now," said Dave Zeis, head athletic trainer for the Stars. "Now, we know we have these bony build-ups, which you can see on X-Rays and CT scans and MRIs, and those lead to labral tears, so what is going on and what is leading to the problems?"
The problem is that neither the athlete nor the athletic trainer can tell when things will intensify. Benn played through some very difficult pain in the middle of the season and then saw things get better as the season went on. So should the Stars simply give him rest over the summer and hope it will be better next year or should Benn have the surgery now, go through a recovery, and then be fully healthy next season?
The Stars are choosing to take care of any FAI situations they can now.
If you have a Ferrari 599 GTO and are not a huge snob, you are going to make sure that you keep that car in condition to corner, accelerate and flat-out demolish any other automobile on the same continent. If you discover a latent defect in its axle or handling system whilst upon the track, you are most certainly going to 1) make sure you can drive it back without crashing, and 2) confirm that further driving won't exacerbate the problem.
Well, Jamie Benn is certainly more important than a stupid fake-racing Ferrari, just like all humans are. So It's little wonder that the Stars decided to hold him out of Worlds in order to get these procedures done right. He got the trophy that none of us thought he would get because the Stars decided it would not be risking much in terms of future performance, and now it's time to hit the garage and do some serious maintenance with the best mechanics the Stars can find. Again, I will emphasize that this is supposed to be a flattering comparison even though people>cars always. The Stars are trying to get this particular problem and solution down pat, and they're not shy about moving forward with surgical procedures in order to reap the rewards of a healthy player down the road. John Klingberg is pretty good evidence of that.
What about everyone else, though? Have the Stars suddenly found a means to locate all sorts of potential hip problems and nip them in the proverbial bud? Well, as with most interesting medical questions, the answer is complicated, and you'll need to pay attention, and you'll certainly need to get the information from someone other than the guy typing these words right now which is me. Let's check back in with Heika:
The Stars are trying to err on the good side of decisions moving forward.
The team doctors asked all 64 players at training camp to get their hips X-rayed last fall. Some declined, but Zeis said of the 50-something that had the X-rays, about 70 percent showed some issues that could possibly lead to future problems. The issues vary, and each athlete will be treated differently, but it opened the eyes of the training staff to just how widespread the issues are with the head of the femur and how it sits in the hip socket.
"Probably 70 percent of the guys we X-rayed had potential for problems," Zeis said. "So that gets you back to what do you do and when do you do it?"
Anyway, give the whole thing a read. There is a bunch more fascinating info in there about Nichushkin's whole process, Benn's recovery timeline, and a slew of other hip-related information that you should read. Check it out.
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Why on earth did Flight of the Conchords have to go away so soon? New Zealand just loves giving a taste of something amazing right before going all "Desolation of Smaug" on us and hurting our feelings. Harsh, you beautiful Kiwis. Harsh.
No, really: Dallas is the hippest place to be. That is a pun which I thought of myself by using my brain. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Devin Shore is impressing pretty much everyone with his play this year, and Mark Stepneski is here to tell you all the delectable details. [Stars]
Corey Perry should not either have been a Dallas Stars because this world is too beautiful for such an abhorrent thing to occur. I would rather speculate about anything else than this scenario. [Hockey Writers]
Rockford knows that the Texas Stars are going to (we hope) throw everything at them in game three tonight. [RR Star]
Texas defenseman Derek Meech is also toughing it out through a heart condition, in case you were unaware. "Doctors have assured Meech it is safe for him to play and believe he has Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a condition in which the body has an extra electrical pathway to the heart. The 31-year old has learned to manage his breathing once his heart starts to race." Athletes have tough jobs, especially in the lower professional leagues. [KXAN]
Travis Hamonic has been revealed to have suffered a torn MCL on the second-to-last day of the regular season. You have to wonder if Hamonic's absence might have cost the Isles the series, quite frankly. Tough, tough break for everyone on this one. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Anders Lindback would be happy to come back to Buffalo, presumably because Jack Eichel would actually give the team a sliver of hope. [Buffalo News]
Equally mysterious is the fate of Andrew Hammond, who took the Ottawa Senators on a late-season run of magical dates, so to speak, and is now confused about why they haven't texted him back lately. [Ottawa Citizen]
Mike Smith is going to come to training camp next year in the best shape of his life, he's just super duper certain about that, yessireebob. [AZ Central]
This eulogy for Nassau Coliseum was very well done, I thought. Maybe you'll think the same thing after you read it. [Puck Daddy]
Finally, you won't believe it, but Niklas Kronwall has actually been suspended for game seven of round one after this pretty inexcusable hit. I know, I couldn't believe they did it either: