The Dallas Stars’ January bye week finally ends tonight as they finish their season series with the Colorado Avalanche in American Airlines Center. There’s been a lot of hockey played since they’ve been gone, yet they still hold the first Western Conference wildcard spot – and John Klingberg is still the NHL’s leading defenseman scorer.
Dan Rosen of NHL.com talked to players, executives and scouts throughout the Stars organization for his new profile of the league’s New Big Thing. Fans already know how Director of European Scouting Kari Takko and right-hand man Rickard Öquist zeroed in on the “so small and skinny” Klinger, but it’s always fun to relive:
Klingberg, a native of Gothenburg, Sweden, was 5-foot-11, maybe 160 pounds when wearing his sweaty gear. He was playing at the junior levels for Frolunda, his hometown program. He wasn’t ready for the Swedish Hockey League. He didn’t play for any Swedish national teams.
Takko and Stars Swedish scout [Oquist] still pushed hard to pick Klingberg in the fifth round, pick No. 131, of the 2010 NHL Draft in Los Angeles. They might have been the only two people on the entire draft floor doing that.
“If I recall right, we were the only guys who talked to him,” Takko said.
It’s a familiar story about an elite blueliner who’s “probably the best in the League for a D-man with the stuff he can pull off,” according to teammate Dan Hamhuis. Yet even a man as measured as GM Jim Nill has invoked – shhh – the L-word:
“I always talk to him about Nicklas Lidstrom,” Nill said. “That’s a bad example for any defenseman because Nick was so good, but I tell him that Nick didn’t try to win the game every shift, he just tried to win it when he knew there was an opportunity or when there were five minutes to go and we were down by a goal. Otherwise, he’d manage the game.
”When [Klingberg] learns to manage the game, he’s going to be an even more dominant player.”
There’s much more at the website.
In 2010 the @DallasStars rolled the dice on a skinny kid from Sweden that hadn't graduated past the junior level.— NHL (@NHL) January 12, 2018
Now @johnklingberg leads all D-men in points and is an #NHLAllStar. https://t.co/tzNhsCR4tO
You’ve probably already read that Marc Methot will be out another couple of weeks after an additional procedure on his injured knee. If you’ve already read Taylor’s Stars-Avs preview, check out Mark Stepneski’s official version.
Mike Heika writes that the Stars are as ready for more action as you are – and that they intend to carry their momentum into their first game back from break.
Jared Clinton details how Alexander Radulov and Ben Bishop are helping to make that upward trajectory possible.
It’s Ed Belfour Reunion Night in the AAC! The Hangar has made his retro-bobblehead available for preorder, and he’s wearing that classic 1999 Star Poncho sweater.
Eddie...Eddie...Eddie! Saturday is Eddie Belfour Reunion Night at the @AACenter and he is our next Bobblehead release in our Retro "Legends of the Ice" series! Make sure this Eagle lands at your house. Limited Qty Available! #Gostars pic.twitter.com/q5R22QXWTW— Stars Hangar (@StarsHangar) January 10, 2018
Scott Burnside catches you up with Eddie the Eagle in a nice pregame read.
The Eagle discusses his new distillery business, living in Dallas, and of course, 1999. https://t.co/cnLg3SIcjI— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 12, 2018
Around the League(s)
All of last night’s Central Division action took place in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Jeff Glass made 31 saves, Anthony Duclair got the GWG and David Kampf earned his first NHL goal – on his birthday. [Second City Hockey]
Are the Vegas Golden Knights the top story of the season? Burnside discusses the enduring disappointment of the 2018 Winter Olympics and waiving the Hall of Fame waiting period for Jaromir Jagr in his midpoint review. [Dallas Stars]
Elsewhere, Matt Larkin says it may be boring, but the Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron is still the NHL’s best two-way forward, and it’s not especially close.
Connor McDavid celebrates his 21st birthday in Vegas (baby) as the Edmonton Oilers meet the Golden Knights tonight. Sean McIndoe takes a look at Hockey Night In Canada’s game of the (k)night, as well as the history of Stars-Avs enmity. [Sportsnet]
How resilient are the recharged Tampa Bay Lightning? With marquee blueliner Victor Hedman on IR for three to six weeks, they could find out.
At the longer end of Victor Hedman's prognosis, he is expected to be back by March, which would give him a month to get ready for the #NHLPlayoffs: https://t.co/B4nVBdFTuG #TBLightning #GoBolts #Bolts #CofRed #NHLAllStar— TampaBayTimesSports (@TBTimes_Sports) January 12, 2018
No planned callups for #tblightning at this point. Already have seven defensemen. Girardi expected back after the bye week— Joe Smith (@TBTimes_JSmith) January 12, 2018
After a high-profile bankruptcy brought on by his parents’ mismanagement, 31-year-old defender Jack Johnson needs a new multi-year contract when he hits free agency in July. That’s one reason why he’s asked the Columbus Blue Jackets for a trade.
Blue Jackets’ Jack Johnson requests trade: Report https://t.co/KmKZeflCcQ— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 13, 2018
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park (and Beautiful Boise)
The Texas Stars are moving up in the AHL standings after last night’s 7-2 road victory over the Stockton Heat. Jason Dickinson had a three-point game, Brent Regner scored twice, and Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz both got goals.
Everyone got in on the act on Friday as the #txstars offense erupted for a 7-2 road win over the Stockton Heat to take over fourth place in the Pacific Division.— Texas Stars (@TexasStars) January 13, 2018
Read: https://t.co/436mGSHdke pic.twitter.com/vWZHX0i1w3
January 11 marked the birthday of one of the NHL’s most recognizable referees. Justin Cuthbert talks with Wes McCauley about public speaking, the importance of doing the job well first and foremost, and what happens when he get caught up in the game.
If you want...to cut straight...to the HIGHLIGHT VIDEO!: