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Dallas Stars Biweekly Links: Stephen Johns, On The Road To The Masterton

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The star defender opens up about the tough journey to his nomination for “the one award everybody doesn’t want.” Plus, what Return To Play Phase 2 will bring, Trevor Daley backs diversity in hockey, and more.

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NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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]


Stars Stuff

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...?)

Owen Newkirk and Bruce LeVine have posted a new interview with IHC Rick Bowness.

Unfortunately, Mike Heika is one of the Stars staffers on furlough at the moment – but hopefully not for long.

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).

So how will the Victory Green Gang handle it? Sean Shapiro offers some insight.

Former Star Trevor Daley has experienced hockey racism up close. Now he’s one of the founding members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.

So what will the NHL do? Executive VP Kim Davis has ideas.

As the Arizona Coyotes’ new president and CEO, Xavier A. Gutierrez is making history – and wants to make sure hockey really is for everyone.

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.”

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.

Finally

You have to admit, it’s something to look forward to. Enjoy.