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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Anton Khudobin, From “Coach’s Nightmare” To Brick Wall

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Sometimes, changing position makes all the difference, writes Sean Shapiro. Plus, a new book from Mike Valley, a big night for Jumbo Joe, and more.

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NHL: Washington Capitals at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Anton Khudobin just may be the Dallas Stars’ best offseason acquisition since Tyler Seguin. The canny veteran has solved the team’s longstanding backup-goaltending issues, stealing games on the regular during his first season in Victory Green.

But his talent as a netminder blossomed only after he stopped getting in his own way as a defenseman, writes Sean Shapiro. And it began with a junior coach blowing up at a 10-year-old Dobby:

“I came to the bench and my coach yelled, ‘Hey, do you want to be a goalie?’ He was mad,” Khudobin said. “Then I talked to my father and I said, ‘I think I want to be a goalie.’”

Khudobin later learned it was something his father, Valery, had already been thinking about before Anton came to that conclusion. Valery saw how his son was always around the puck and had a knack for getting in its way. Switching positions made sense.

The transition became a father-son project as the frustrating defenseman turned into a pretty good goaltender. Valery would often stay up late and watch NHL games while Anton slept. In the mornings he’d relay what he saw to his son, and would give him ideas for save techniques before practice.

As one-half of the NHL’s best statistical goalie pair (.924 SVG), he’s also a master of keeping things light – and making practice challenging:

“You have to have fun with your teammates. Even if it’s in a competition, it’s a healthy competition,” Khudobin said. “If we’re chirping each other or bagging each other, or whatever, trying to get under the skin in a good way. It’s related to the game. When I try to challenge them or they get pissed off, saying, ‘I’m going to bury the puck today,’ I think it’s a good thing.”...

“When you have a goalie that tries in practice and every day he makes it a good time and fun for the players, that’s great,” Jason Spezza said. “He doesn’t take anything too seriously, which really helps everyone … he’s a great guy, he’s a gamer when he plays and he’s really funny to be around when he’s not.”

There’s much more under the paywall, including a look at Khudobin’s new social-media stardom. [The Athletic DFW]


Stars Stuff

Dobby gets the start tonight against the Florida Panthers, as the Stars once again choose to be “careful” with Ben Bishop. Take note of the early start time – 6 p.m. Central time.

Jim Montgomery talked about tonight’s lineup changes in the latest practice update.

Former Stars goalie coach Mike Valley has written a new book for the rest of us.

Around The League(s)

It was all quiet on the Central front last night, but there are still headlines to contemplate:

What the H-E-double hockey sticks is going on with the Anaheim Ducks? Robert Flores and Mike Johnson discussed Bob Murray’s new coaching duties.

Joe Thornton calls this ‘Monday,’” as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston observed. All this, and the San Jose Sharks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 7-2.

Ready for another fight about fighting in hockey? Jason Kay writes that fewer brawls mean – wait for it – fewer injuries in his latest All-Access read.

A devastating report on predatory coaches in Canadian junior sport points to “a chaotic hierarchy ... where no one has authority over anything,” says a government minister.

Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park

More change for the Texas Stars’ lineup, as forward Spencer Naas gets another call-up from the Idaho Steelheads.

Finally

Meet Paul Kim – born in Korea, at home in Washington, owner of this awesome logo, and keeper of the flame for the USA’s first Stanley Cup champions. Enjoy.