We are less than two months from the start of another season of Dallas Stars hockey, and there is plenty to be excited about. Barring another locked out season, or partial season, Stars fans are going to see the results of the hard work of General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk and new owner Tom Gaglardi. Both promised big moves and an attitude of ‘whatever it takes to win’.
What it took was letting go of some key players from previous seasons and signing big names in hopes of a huge payoff. While the departure of Mike Ribeiro might disappoint some fans who will miss his sometimes baffling control of the puck, the errant area passes and lack of hustle on the backcheck will be another team’s problem to justify. When you weigh his upside against the likes of living legend (and new Dallas Star) Jaromir Jagr, it’s hard to see a downside to the move.
If you aren’t familiar with Jagr, please take a moment to google or bing him, or look him up on NHL.com. Even better, you could just wait for the beginning of the season and watch as he makes the black and gold shine with a new level of finesse.
Jagr is arguably one of the greatest to ever lace up a pair of skates in the NHL. The idea of him on a line with Ray Whitney might even be enough to try and get Mike Modano to pull himself away from the golf course for oh let’s say 82 games (give or take the playoffs), maybe.
However, there is one thing the Stars are going to be missing this season: Grit. They parted ways with Sheldon Souray in the off-season, which leaves the defensive core looking less than intimidating. While Mark Fistric has proven he can lay down some law on the blue line with his crushing hip checks, he and newcomer Aaron Rome are the only two defensemen over six feet tall. This is a far cry from the days of Derian Hatcher and Richard Matvichuk bouncing forwards off the end boards.
The biggest loss to the Stars’ intimidation factor, and their best connection to the fans for that matter, was the trading of Steve Ott to the Buffalo Sabers. Ott was the Stars’ perennial agitator, and the loss of his persistent pestering will be hard to replace.
This will definitely be a new Dallas Stars team. Fans will have to wait and see how the players meld together. With a veteran presence leading a fairly young group of forwards and defensemen, the chemistry could be the largest determining factor between a solid chance at a playoff run, or another season that ends at game 82. Let’s just hope the fans don’t have to wait any longer than early October for the season to start. The league and the NHLPA need to work out their differences and let Dallas fans reward them with a sea of black and gold in the seats, and shouts of “STARS” in the national anthem.