For nearly a year, Dallas Stars play-by-play analyst Dave Strader has been fighting an intense battle away from the rink. He’s fighting a rare, aggressive form of bile duct cancer.
That fight has been on the hearts and minds of Stars fans — and hockey fans in general — since the brutal news was delivered last summer.
One of the rare highlights in an otherwise forgettable season in Dallas was hearing Strader on the broadcast in February for a five game homestand. While many grew up with Ralph Strangis as the voice of the Stars, once Strader was announced as his replacement, fans embraced “The Voice”. His chemistry with Daryl Razor Reaugh and easy delivery style made Stars hockey home once more for us, and we welcomed him into our homes, cars, and everywhere in-between as we got our hockey fix night in and night out.
That’s why his battle has been one that hits home for many of us. Strader is a part of our hockey family. Hockey in Dallas is like that. Within this football-crazed metropolitan, meeting a hockey fan gives you another extended family member. There’s an instant kind of connection, as if you’ve found someone that likes that same remix of that one specific 90s song that everyone else hates but *you* karaoke to at full volume in your car.
Seeing a member of your hockey family suffer sucks, and seeing cancer strike another member of the Stars family sucks even more. Fox Sports Southwest correspondent Julie Dobbs Forbes and general manager Jim Nill’s wife have both been stricken with the terrible disease in the last few years just before Strader’s diagnosis.
Cancer can go really go take a long walk off a short pier any day now.
Luckily, none of those members of the Stars family have let their cancer diagnosis define them. They’ve all fought to maintain their status as wife, mother, father, husband, daughter, son, professional — any other label that isn’t “cancer patient”.
That’s why it’s so wonderful to see Strader recognized for his hockey broadcast contributions through his time with the Detroit Red Wings, on national broadcasts like NBC, and now here in Dallas. He’ll receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award this season.
It’s likely the only hardware that a member of the Stars organization will walk away with this summer. But honestly, it’s the one that feels the most appropriate. Because now he’s got another label to use other than cancer patient, and that is “Hockey Hall of Fame recognized broadcaster Dave Strader.”
We all can only hope to be #StraderStrong.