The Dallas Stars’ No. 1 prospect made his NHL debut less than 48 hours ago, and in less than half that time Julius Honka has gone from semipermanent fantasy-league trade bait to The Coming Thing, the new shiny, with everything that implies for better and otherwise.
The fact that his advent came as John Klingberg was serving a healthy scratch that shocked even fans who’d been clamoring for one has added to the drama, writes The Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika:
Klingberg has been a happy-go-lucky kid who has that swagger that people love. But part of that swagger is you don't really blame yourself a lot. He was blaming himself Monday. That's a good thing. It's part of the process. He needs fear of failure. He needs to worry. We all need that. It helps us hold ourselves accountable.
But in the Stars’ best (beastliest?) of all possible worlds, neither of these talented D-men makes the other redundant. If you can have Batman and Bruce Lee, you do it:
The good thing about athletics is new kids and old kids can coexist, and the Stars have been seeking that combination for years. Long-time Stars fans have seen the "new" blueline of Buzek, Jackman, Erskine, Jancevski turn into the "new" blueline of Fistric, Grossmann, Daley, Niskanen. Heck, real prospect hounds even had brief love affairs with Ivan Vishnevskiy and Philip Larsen. It's tough to get them all to bloom at the right time. For the Stars, it's been tough to get any of them to bloom at the right time.
Julius Honka is the new kid in town, just like John Klingberg was three seasons ago. In a perfect world, they become best friends and help each other get better.
That's a song we'd all like to hear.
There’s more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
Heika looks at some of the decisions Lindy Ruff is facing tonight, including the one about the return of John Klingberg. [SportsDayDFW]
Did the Klingberg scratch mark a turning point for the Stars’ season? Pierre LeBrun thinks it might have. [ESPN]
Mark Stepneski takes stock at the season’s one-quarter mark, “and while the record doesn't look pretty ... [t]here's not a lot of pretty going on around them” in the Central.
Stars have been inconsistent, but they have kept their heads above water over first quarter of season https://t.co/BT0Aww3DCX— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) November 23, 2016
He also brings this update on Jiri Hudler...
I talked to Jiri Hudler today. Here is the entire transcript:— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) November 22, 2016
Me: "How you doing, Jiri?"
Hudler: "Good. Feeling better."
...as well as the latest sightings of long-lost Super Friends Mattias Janmark and Aleš Hemský.
Mattias is still around. He and Hemsky were both in Frisco today, both walking around a bit without the crutches. https://t.co/pAoT61raow— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) November 23, 2016
Elsewhere in Stepneski: Denis Gurianov has been doing some work of his own and has scored six points in his past eight games.
While Julius Honka is impressing in Dallas, Denis Gurianov is making strides in Cedar Park. https://t.co/aSN0JnDJMT— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) November 22, 2016
Stars director of goaltending development Mike Valley has a new book coming out, and it shares space with Patrik Laine, the Finnish League, Craig Cunningham and more in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts. [Sportsnet]
Also at Sportsnet: Sean McIndoe passes out quarter-season awards. [Sportsnet]
Last night was mostly quiet on the Central front, with only the St. Louis Blues dishing out #MDK – expanding their winning streak to four against the Boston Bruins, 4-2. [St. Louis Game Time]
The Stars meet the Predators at 7 p.m. Central time in Nashville, and Chris Oddo takes a look at how goalie Pekka Rinne’s return to form has buoyed the team.
I am shocked, shocked to learn that NHL GMs may already be looking to gain special advantages in the Vegas expansion draft. [TSN]
Also at TSN: Frank Seravalli picks the best players (expected to be) available. [TSN]
Teamy McTeamface is now officially the Vegas Golden Knights. Wow, much X-Men, many 300. [USA Today]
Las Vegas Golden Knights was definitely a team in Any Given Sunday. pic.twitter.com/H3VrZbVmWo— Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm) November 23, 2016
Teamy The Golden Knights also have no fewer than four team colors.
From the official release. I thought red was the blood of angry men, and black was the dark of ages past. pic.twitter.com/5yYYPL628O— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 23, 2016
Chris Smith of Icethetics was at the reveal and gives a closer look at the package so far (and has a momentary flashback to the Hartford Whalers’ logo).
Of course, they’re keepin’ it real on Twitter.
So sick of all the bandwagon Las Vegas Golden Knights fans. Name one player on the team you frauds.— ETD51 (@ETD51) November 23, 2016
Can the Columbus Blue Jackets sustain their powerhouse pace? Matt Larkin isn’t so sure. [The Hockey News]
The Stars aren’t the only team whose backup at blueline has generated some strange healthy scratches: The Flyers are now sitting Michael Del Zotto thanks in part to running eight-deep this season.
Report: Del Zotto is the latest healthy scratch thanks to Flyers crowded blue line https://t.co/bHhZOjGJYV— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) November 22, 2016
And the World Cup of Hockey didn’t even make that much money, for either the league or the players. [The Hockey News]
The Texas Stars have a bit of downtime before Thanksgiving, but they have a big weekend planned with I-35 rivals the San Antonio Rampage.
Finally: Movember marches on, and here is a recent photo of Loui Eriksson that proves it. Enjoy.