If we look really hard, we can all find ways in which 2020 wasn’t entirely a “hold my beer” response to a remarkably awful 2019. And for those of us who watch them closely, the Dallas Stars provided several moves and moments that put a little joy into a singularly joyless year.
One of those, surely, was the emergence of Rick Bowness as a viable and effective head coach – and that has landed him on ESPN’s list of “NHL People Who Leveled Up In 2020.”
Bowness took over as a reluctant bench boss after the job was essentially thrust upon him in December 2019. The Stars wanted a steady presence who could keep the cart in the road and maybe, hopefully, get them to the postseason. Greg Wyshynski writes about what they got instead:
He turned out to be much more than that. Bowness tweaked the Dallas system, which was defense-first, to allow for more offense from his defensemen. That juiced the Stars’ scoring in the playoffs. He managed and motivated the team’s emotions during a postseason run to the Stanley Cup Final.
The year started with Bowness as a Band-Aid, a temporary fix until general manager Jim Nill went out and hired someone like Gerard Gallant to take over the bench. It continued with the league’s oldest bench boss (65) coaching in the restarted season despite being in a high-risk category for COVID-19, and coaching through the mental strain of bubble life, to lead the Stars to the Western Conference title. The year ended with Rick Bowness as the official new head coach of the Dallas Stars on a multiyear deal. Quite a ride.
The full story is behind the ESPN+ paywall and includes reflections on hockey heroes from Matt Dumba to Victor Hedman to Kendall Coyne Schofield. Check it out, if you can. [ESPN+]
The Stars are expanding their outreach to local kids with their first Learn to Play event just for girls. Aspiring players from the ages of 4 to 9 are eligible.
The first ever @DallasStars Girls Learn to Play is coming to DFW— Children's Health StarCenter (@StarCenters) December 10, 2020
With help from the @NHL & @NHLPA first time girls hockey players will receive head-to-toe equipment + 6 weeks of on-ice sessions absolutely . For more info, visit: https://t.co/LqxnpmFvxF pic.twitter.com/tIOf2flLZg
It’s been a while since The Athletic ran a Stars survey. Saad Yousuf, who’s just taken the lead on the Stars beat, says it’s time.
The last time we ran a Stars survey, the team had lost six straight games. When the NHL started back up, they came within two wins of a title.— The Athletic Dallas (@TheAthleticDFW) December 10, 2020
How do you feel about the players, the direction, inclusivity efforts & new jerseys?
| @SaadYousuf126 |https://t.co/oGu9pDMjUK…
By the way, in case you missed it: Sean Shapiro will be around, he just won’t be around. Well done, Sean.
Happy to announce I’m moving to a new role with @TheAthleticNHL covering the business of hockey on a national level.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) December 7, 2020
To everyone that read my Stars coverage in various places since 2012, I can’t thank you enough. https://t.co/v6EblhL8E4
Around The Leagues
The challenge of making the World Juniors got even steeper during these pandemic days. Martin Merk has details.
Hundreds of players battle for their ticket to the #WorldJuniors. En route to Edmonton the players have to overcome adversity - and test negative for #Covid19. Check out the camp rosters below.— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 9, 2020
Andrea Cardin / HHOF-IIHF Images pic.twitter.com/Cd2t9Oezdi
But Stars prospects Thomas Harley and Mavrik Bourque have met every challenge so far.
Stars prospects D Thomas Harley and F Mavrik Bourque remain on the roster. https://t.co/vTJQZlYc39— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) December 10, 2020
“I’m tired of being uncomfortable around people.” The details of former Star Mark Parrish’s recovery from alcohol addiction are excruciating, but you need to read them.
‘I need help’: How friends saved the life of former NHL All-Star Mark Parrish— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) December 10, 2020
Please READ this hard, yet hopeful story. Took a lot of courage for Parrish to tell#mnwild #flapanthers #isles #nhl https://t.co/Yk5WXN9biT
The late Gordie Howe loved Christmas. So his family has put him at the center of their celebration – literally. Enjoy.