It’s been 25 weeks, 4 days and around 14 hours since the Dallas Stars last played a regular season game on American Airlines Center ice.
The long wait is over. The Dallas Stars have had one of the most exciting offseasons since general manager Jim Nill traded for Tyler Seguin when he was celebrating the Fourth of July at his cottage in Canada. While that summer might have had major repercussions for the direction of the Stars franchise, I’m not sure it will define the Jim Nill era more than this summer’s moves.
He needed to upgrade in all areas:
- Coaching: check - he hired Ken Hitchcock to upgrade the team’s defensive abilities.
- Defense: check - he acquired Marc Methot to upgrade his top four in the short-term while Julius Honka and Miro Heiskenen continue to develop.
- Goaltending: check - he acquired and then re-signed Vezina finalist Ben Bishop to provide some long-term stability for the pipes.
- Special teams: check - he acquired Martin Hanzal which should improve the penalty killing of his forward unit (and hopefully the defensive responsibility of the forwards at even strength, too).
- Scoring depth: check - he acquired the top right wing in free agency to give Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin someone to ride shotgun and complement their style.
It’s a lot of moves, and it sent a message to Stars fans that the time is now to compete. They’ve got a core, and now some key complementary pieces. The expectations and excitement about the Stars is at it’s zenith. Now it’s time for the organization to build on the hype of the “most improved team in the NHL this summer” and get results on the ice.
It’s been long enough. 25 weeks, 4 days, and around 14 hours, to be exact.
The return of hockey tomorrow night is not without it’s tinge of sadness, however.
The Stars organization and their fans are mourning the loss of Dave Strader this past Sunday after more than a year fighting against a rare form of bile duct cancer. We only had the pleasure of hearing him call one full season of Stars hockey, and what a glorious year that was as the Stars won their first playoff series since 2008 and came one game away from advancing to the Western Conference Final. It wasn’t nearly enough time, and the indelible mark he left on this franchise will not be soon forgotten.
“He was a Hall-of-Fame announcer, a Hall-of-Fame person, a Hall-of-Fame soul.”— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) October 5, 2017
We miss you, Dave. pic.twitter.com/ohVeYbb6z0
Not even a day later, the Las Vegas community was rocked as gunfire killed nearly 60 people attending a country music festival in US modern history’s worst mass shooting.
Now, both of those community’s hockey teams will come together to play a game tomorrow night. It’s such a small, irrelevant thing when you consider recent events, the state of the world today, the state of the country today.
Maybe in some small way, both Golden Knights fans and their community and Stars fans and their community can come together. To hug one another, to laugh again, to share a hobby, and to share common experiences that should cross gender/ethnic/racial/geographical/socioeconomic and all other kinds of boundaries.
Maybe they can find a way to heal one another just a little bit from the tragedies in this world.
Because off the ice, we’re all just people trying to make it through this life, and the world could use a dose of love. And that’s more important than the score of a game.