It's somewhat common for a writer to put a "filler" paragraph at the start of an article. The idea is to add context, set up a problem before providing a solution, or introduce the topic in a broad way before getting down to the things they actually want to write about. It is not uncommon for people to skip these opening paragraphs once they get the gist of what the writer is doing in order to get to the meat of the piece. Since this piece is a list that requires almost no introduction whatsoever beyond the headline, we shall get right to it. Here are five ways to help the offseason pass quickly.
5. Laugh at Teams That Had Worse Offseasons Than Your Team Did
The idea behind this one is that, okay, we all know exactly what our team did, and in most cases there is reason for some optimism. In the Stars' case, there seems reason for much immediate optimism. However, the analysis has been done, and conclusions have been drawn, and there's not much left for fans to do at this point than to wait and see who is going to suffer a freakish minor injury in training camp. So we turn our eyes to the other teams who operated slightly differently this offseason, and we start doing some analysis from afar. Yes, the Stars aren't exactly sitting upon a grand pile of trophies from their last decade, but this is the offseason! Every team has the exact same record for the season we all care most about: the next one.
So go on, start talking about how Alex Semin is obviously going to sabotage the Habs' hopes for this year because of his work ethic. Hey, you know how Sharp and Oduya are both slightly older than players the Stars have acquired in prior trades? Well, at least they're more useful than Chris Pronger and John Scott will be for Arizona. (Well, actually Pronger's contract is sort of useful in a really ridiculous way, but not for purposes of fan enjoyment.)
While the Stars' window is ready to swing open, there are plenty of teams that are far closer to leaving competitive maturity than entering it, and the offseason is the best time to start throwing stones at all those other groups who have only managed to make it to the second round of the playoffs a couple of times in the last few years. Hey, St. Louis, maybe this will be the year that Hitch and one of his two "not quite" goalies can finally get it done for you poor folks, haha! Don't worry, I'm sure Tarasenko will definitely not leave to play in the KHL once the rubel rebounds two years from now and the local media is dealing with their frustration by copy/pasting old Ovechkin criticisms into articles about your best player while bemoaning the loss of #americanhero T.J. Oshie.
Note: you may want to have most of these conversations anonymously, or just pretend you're a Flyers fan like all other online jerks do.
(To truncate point #5, you can also replace everything with "lol Sharks.")
4. Debate the Wisdom of Moves and Strategies that Have Not Been Employed Yet and May Never Be Employed at All
Can you believe that the Stars lost out on the Presidents' Trophy all because Jim Nill traded Jordie Benn and Alex Goligoski for Joe Thornton at the deadline, only to have Lindy Ruff promptly move Jumbo Joe to defense in order to help mentor Julius Honka? Neither can I, but that's exactly what I am going to be furious about by the time September finally rolls around, because I just know that is going to happen.
There's an important distinction here: you can't just be frustrated at past moves or missteps by the team leaders, since criticizing such moves is every fan's inherent right. No, if you really want to get yourself riled up and let that anger warp you right through August, you need to string together no fewer than three darkest-timeline sequences and start your criticism from there.
I mean, look at Colorado. Fans up there aren't going to make time pass any more quickly by shaking their heads at the old-school approach Sakic and Roy seem to have regarding the importance of driving possession. If you're an Avs lover, you need to start souring your mood now by looking at how your team will never make it back to being competitive because Francois Beauchemin is going to get stuffed in a locker as part of a late-night training camp prank, and no one will find him for five months because literally no one has lockers anymore. (They use those fine "stalls" now with hand-carved mahogany and colored nameplates.) And when someone finally does find him, MacKinnon will be so terrified at how Frenchy is still in pretty good shape after so long in the locker that he will flee to Maine long before Beauch manages to explain the nutritional sustenance provided by old stick tape.
This is not a less-than-subtle "stop bashing ____" plea. No, just trying to set the bar a little higher for where true antipathy should begin. It's all well and good to bemoan certain players on the power play or penalty kill, but time will pass way more quickly if you go down the rabbit hole predicting what will happen because of X which happened because of Y which became possible because of that sale on Froot Loops in Cedar Park that we can never discuss again.
I mean, if only Oleksiak hadn't scored those three hat tricks during October and thrown a wrench into all the power play arrangements, right?
3. Third Jersey Speculation
What better time to develop a firm opinion about aesthetic merits of theoretical jerseys than now? After all, it seems like ages since the Stars have had a black jersey. Oh for those glorious days when color was optional, when you could wear your Stars jersey to a college basketball game and not look totally out of place.
And remember, all third jersey speculation is always 100% accurate and worth hours of debate, so don't miss out on your chance to really get into the trenches on this one. Those blue and silver sweaters won't MS Paint themselves, after all!
I was going to paste an example picture in here, but I just can't do it; you'll have to go look at this one for yourself.
2. Propose Really Great Trades Which Will Totally Happen
Phil Kessel somehow did wind up with Pittsburgh, giving them three forwards capable of scoring 40 goals. While this means the Penguins will be paying $25 million for their top three forwards for roughly the rest of your life, this also means that all common sense can now go out the window when it comes to fantasizing about whom your team will acquire this year.
Say, Steven Stamkos hasn't signed an extension yet? Sounds like the perfect #3 center for Dallas! Someone call up Stevie Y and offer Garbutt and...oh. Well, how about the Stars' next twelve 4th-round picks and a raffle ticket for one left-handed defenseman under 25? Come on, Tampa, you know you wanna.
It's probably worth noting that Dallas is actually one of the few teams worthy of such speculation, since Jim Nill has yet to have anything even moderately resembling a quiet summer. So fire up those Shattenkirk trade rumors now, folks! Haha, just kidding, Central Division teams never trade with each other.
1. Just Start the Season Yourself
Now wait a minute before you get too carried away; I am not advocating holding any of our benevolent league officials hostage in order to move up opening night. That is illegal, currently. No, there is a better way to take things into your own hands, and it is made possible in part by the Wonders of Modern Technology. Here is an example:
Back in the early 1990s, I spent more time than I would ever admit to a therapist playing Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball. Yes, I played plenty of NHL games as well, but KGJPMLB was my first and best experience with taking a team all the way from opening night to the World Series, adjusting lineups night in and night out, trying to keep a pitcher fresh, and constantly going through the rosters and comparing stats to my baseball card collection in order to re-name the players correctly since the MLB Player's Association had not licensed any players' names for the game. This meant that Jay Buhner was by default named J. Hutt, a relatively unflattering comparison to anyone moderately familiar with the Star Wars universe. His arms were the size of badly rolled-up sleeping bags though, which is probably some consolation.
This game was also my first experience with the old "If you're about to lose, hit 'reset' before it saves" strategy, which would later come in handy when playing NHL 2002 on my PC after Donald Audette hit the post right before some computer-controlled idiot let Markus Naslund walk into the slot unchallenged for his 8th goal of the game during overtime.
Yes, it's not the healthiest way to spend your summer, but if you really just can't wait any longer for the Stars to start demolishing everyone like we all know they totally will come October, then go ahead and grab your controller of choice and start scoring goals for them. The only thing better than watching the Stars play hockey is literally forcing them to do it by pressing a button and sitting on your couch for a while. That's basically what fans do during half the season anyway, right?