The Dallas Stars have had another busy offseason — trading for Patrick Sharp, signing Antti Niemi and Johnny Oduya, and reloading for another run at the playoffs through the abattoir that is the
Murder Death Kill Central Division.
It's easy to be hopeful in August, when everyone is undefeated. But does our team look ready to someone who isn't watching through Victory Green goggles?
Sean McCullum of NHL.com has found four reasons why your Stars optimism is justified.
Former Blackhawks bring big playoff experience
"I think the biggest thing is [Patric Sharp and Johnny Oduya] know how to win," captain Jamie Benn told The Dallas Morning News in early August. "They have lived it, and that's something not a lot of us have done yet."
A more powerful power play
"[Sharp] can really shoot a puck," [Jim] Nill said. "If you get him out there with a [John] Klingberg or Goligoski, someone like that, we think it gives us another weapon back there. So we're excited about it."
Goaltending depth (and competition)
With the addition of Niemi, the Stars won't have to ride incumbent No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen, who played in 65 games each of the past two seasons and looked worse for the wear in 2014-15, when he had the second-worst save percentage (.903) of his NHL career.
Putting the D back in Dallas
"We didn't early on buy in to you've got to play the game both ways," Nill said. "And a little bit of that is inexperience with a young group of guys. We learned our lesson. By about December we figured that out; the trouble was we had already dug a hole for ourselves."
As always, there is much more at the link. Go ahead on. This will be here when you get back. [Dallas Stars]
Want to see Tyler Seguin take on some of the best sled hockey players in the country (including Paralympic gold medalist and Texas native Taylor Lipsett)? Your lucky day is August 29, 2015. Proceeds benefit the Dallas Sled Hockey Team. You should go.
Sean McIndoe has spent the summer poring over the long, tortuous history of the Stanley Cup — from challenge trophy to the super-elite beer mug of our present day — and has issued judgment on which Cup victories count and which don't. (Guess how many actually do. Now whatever you just guessed, guess lower.) [Grantland]
Elsewhere, Craig Custance of ESPN has ranked the 10 "most concerning" contracts of the 2015 offseason, and the Antti Niemi deal came in at No. 2. The full article is behind the Insider paywall, but The Dallas Morning News has once again summarized the most interesting parts. [SportsDayDFW]
EA Sports has removed the image of Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane from its NHL 16 game cover. The revised art will feature teammate Jonathan Toews in a solo turn. [ESPN]
Summer isn't hockey downtime for everyone: The American Hockey League has posted a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the 2015-16 schedule. [AHL]
Happy news from Stephanie Vail, the tireless, seemingly omniscient human GIF oracle who became internet-famous under her nom de Tweet, @MyRegularFace:
I have an announcement: this season I will be making GIFs with @SBNationNHL. It'll be fun. Thank you. End of speech.— Stephanie (@myregularface) August 12, 2015
Meanwhile, the managing editor of Fear the Fin is moving on to new opportunities. Happy trails, Neutral.
InGoal Magazine has published a list of the top 50 NHL goaltending prospects for the coming year. Stars prospect and 2014-15 CHL Goaltender of the Year Philippe Desrosiers comes in at No. 26. [InGoal]
Alex Ovechkin hasn't lost a step — Jamie Benn has just put it all together, says Ryan Womeldorf. He ranks Our Captain as the best left wing in the NHL right now. [Sports Glory]
Montreal Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty appears to be healing well from the knee injury he incurred during an offseason workout. (Then again, what do you expect from a guy they call Wolverine?) [NBC Sports]
Meanwhile, Lightning defenseman Sami Salo has officially called an end to his 15-year NHL career due to the wrist injury that kept him from playing during the 2014-15 season. [NHL]
Salo spent much of his career with the Vancouver Canucks, who posted this heartfelt farewell:
Shoutout to Sami Salo on a great career. What a competitor, what a shot. Enjoy retirement! pic.twitter.com/kxKjuT63Rz— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) August 13, 2015
The Anaheim Ducks have announced a debut date of October 16, 2015 for their sixth alternate jersey in franchise history, and meanwhile Stars fans are still waiting for something that doesn't have a Mooterus on it, f'r cheezncrackers. [Anaheim Calling]
Good news, everyone! The 2015 update to Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract is now available as a digital download. You can also get previous editions as part of a PDF bundle.
Meanwhile, in Washington, an investigation into working conditions in the state's four Western Hockey League teams was dismissed after the legislature passed a law that allows WHL teams to define their players as "trainees" rather than "employees" — and thereby to avoid paying them minimum wage. TSN has obtained nearly 1,000 pages of case documents on the canceled investigation. Here's some of what they found. [TSN]
Dean Lombardi, general manager of the Los Angeles Kings, accepted the GM job with Team USA earlier this month, and oh my word his acceptance speech is the kind of stuff that would make General Patton break down and weep. Travis Hughes has the details. [Broad Street Hockey]
Need another reason to plan your visit to the Stars' 2015 training camp? Cedar Park is turning out to be a great place to eat:
And here's a good reason to make a group road trip during the regular season:
Keith Yandle to the Dallas Stars? You may have seen this unsourced rumor posted in the comments section of Wednesday's links, and it's an interesting thought experiment if nothing else. [The Hockey Press]
Finally: Ales Hemsky and Marty Turco both celebrated their birthdays yesterday — just in time for #NHLMovieNight. Here's to a great year, guys.
Help us wish Ales Hemsky a happy 32nd birthday! pic.twitter.com/vto7weQsC9— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) August 13, 2015
...and a (literal) last look from D2: The Mighty Ducks, courtesy of the ever-observant @DallasStars: