The Dallas Stars, the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and several hockey writers have confirmed what most fans have probably considered a foregone conclusion. Stephen Johns’ long battle with, and breathtaking comeback from, post-traumatic headaches and post-concussion syndrome have made him the Stars’ nominee for the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
After 22 months, multiple specialists, and a lifetime’s worth of pain and uncertainty, the big defender was often unsure he would return to hockey at all – much less in the spectacular form he displayed in both Cedar Park and Dallas earlier this year. Johns looked back on the long road to those big moments with The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro:
“The one award that everybody doesn’t want to win because that means you had to endure something that wasn’t a fun journey,” Johns said, when informed he was nominated. “But when you get through that and look back on it, you look at all the positives that experience brought to my life. So it’s a huge honor.”...
“It’s something that changed me,” Johns said. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to come back. It was frustrating. There were some dark times I didn’t know if I’d be able to play again.”
He also expresses lasting gratitude for the Stars’ own approach to his injury, and the no-pressure environment that allowed him to heal:
“There is a time when you have to say there is a bigger picture (than hockey),” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “There is a person and him getting better and looking after his life.”
Nill went into the 2019-20 season planning on Johns not playing again in the NHL. He was supportive and wanted to help Johns get back to the ice, but even at the onset of training camp, Nill told media members he wouldn’t address Johns’ future. He asked everyone to give the defenseman his space.
There’s more under the link. [The Athletic DFW]
FOX Sports Southwest is celebrating Johns with a choice comeback tweet.
The Stars are basking in birthdays this week, with Denis Gurianov and Andrej Sekera celebrating on Sunday and Monday. (But where is Mike Modano’s post...?)
Wishing Gurianov a very happy 23rd birthday! pic.twitter.com/jPC3wBhih6— x-Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) June 7, 2020
Owen Newkirk and Bruce LeVine have posted a new interview with IHC Rick Bowness.
In case you missed today's #TheLastResort on @dfwticket, @BruceLeVinePuck & I interviewed @DallasStars head coach Rick Bowness from his summer home in Nova Scotia. Listen to it right here:https://t.co/KWmXYZt2nq— Owen Newkirk (@OwenNewkirk) June 7, 2020
Unfortunately, Mike Heika is one of the Stars staffers on furlough at the moment – but hopefully not for long.
My guess is we come back when there are stories to write. I think it could be a very fun summer. https://t.co/uoP1rHwRYk— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) June 9, 2020
Around The League(s)
Return To Play Phase 2 – limited voluntary practice – began yesterday. Emily Sadler has a running list of how NHL teams are implementing it (spoiler: no Stars info yet).
Phase 2 of the NHL’s return-to-play protocol officially began today.— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) June 9, 2020
Wondering what that meant for your favourite team? We compiled a running list of how every club approached it:https://t.co/upmPX2RY6D
So how will the Victory Green Gang handle it? Sean Shapiro offers some insight.
When Stars players do start skating at start of Phase 2 they’ll be using practice rink in Frisco. That sheet will be shut down to the public at that time and all skating activities by non-NHL players in Frisco will be done on Comerica Center ice likely until Phase 3 is over.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) June 8, 2020
Former Star Trevor Daley has experienced hockey racism up close. Now he’s one of the founding members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.
"We believe in the importance of accountability in developing inclusivity and diversity for all involved in our sport, including fans and the league office" https://t.co/wMlFNsHouv— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) June 9, 2020
So what will the NHL do? Executive VP Kim Davis has ideas.
Will this watershed moment in the war on racism mobilize the NHL to re-evaluate its commitment to inclusivity?— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) June 5, 2020
Spoke to NHL executive VP Kim Davis about that and many other race-related topics. She paints a detailed picture of what the NHL will do next:https://t.co/DHMenF5B4n pic.twitter.com/JUVdpuVUiv
As the Arizona Coyotes’ new president and CEO, Xavier A. Gutierrez is making history – and wants to make sure hockey really is for everyone.
Xavier A. Gutierrez was named the first Latino team president, CEO and alternate governor in NHL history when he was hired by the Coyotes. https://t.co/DJdpKKmKXh— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) June 8, 2020
Also at NHL.com: Stu Barnes played junior hockey in Washington. Now he’s a key part of Seattle’s NHL future. All that, plus his position on “We’re Not Booing, We’re Stu-ing.”
Former NHL forward Stu Barnes discussed his job as a scout with the NHL Seattle expansion team, the Sabres 50th anniversary, and much more in the latest "Five Questions With ..."https://t.co/a3Zg2PjnN3— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) June 9, 2020
Greetings From Scenic Cedar Park
Wish a happy belated birthday to Adam Mascherin! The Texas Stars standout celebrated on Saturday.
Meanwhile, it looks as if prospect defender Ondrej Vala is on his way to the European leagues.
This was a mutual termination of Vala’s contract. He is likely going to sign with a team in Europe and both he and Stars had agreed he was no longer in their minds as a prospect. https://t.co/2GFt58PV1b— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) June 9, 2020
You have to admit, it’s something to look forward to. Enjoy.