The Stars have “re” Aligned: New division, old rivalries, more sleep

2 of 2

The alignment with the Minnesota Wild might be what finally makes this match-up interesting to both fan bases. A somewhat “natural” rivalry has existed for years on the other side of the equation. Since the Stars left Minnesota for Texas 20 years ago there has existed a healthy animosity in the Land of 10,000 lakes towards the green and gold in the Lone Star state. Since Minnesota started play as an expansion team in 2000 their fans have always held the Stars as public enemy number one.

The Wild were awful back then. The Stars were not. The Wild have always paid great attention to the schedule as it pertained to visits from the Stars, culminating in their win in the final game of the ‘10-‘11 season that kept the Stars from qualifying for the playoffs.

Jan 20, 2013; St. Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) talks with forward Ryan Suter (20) during the first period against the Dallas Stars at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild defeated the Stars 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

On the southern end of the conversation the Stars had bigger foes to worry about and that pattern continued until the last couple of years. The Wild signed marquee free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter for $98 million each two years ago. They were almost rewarded with a great run last season before folding late. Most experts will tell you they are a team of the future, a description we have heard for every other team in the new Central.

The Nashville Predators finish out our tour of the new Central Division.   They are a true southern market like the Stars and at times find themselves struggling to sell the game to home town folks that are more comfortable with a gridiron than a rink. The Preds first season was ‘97-’98 and since then they have continually grown in popularity and respectability. They have a unique drawing card in that one of their star players, Mike Fisher is married to Carrie Underwood, an extremely accomplished country singer. Being that  Nashville is known as the capital of country music it makes for an odd pair in the right place that fans in Dallas may be able to relate to as well.

Another interesting piece in Nashville is brand new defenseman Seth Jones. Seth was the third overall pick in the 2013 draft and is the son of former Dallas Maverick Popeye Jones. He is somewhat of a Dallas youth hockey product. His success gives some validation to the development programs in North Texas. His development will be watched by every kid in North Texas who has aspirations of playing with the “Big Boys”.

Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Seth Jones poses for a photo with team officials after being introduced as the number four overall pick to the Nashville Predators during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars will no doubt benefit on both a local and national level from the new alignment. On the local side, not playing every division road game in the Pacific Time zone will allow the young fans to lobby Mom and Dad to stay up a little later to watch the end of the game. Those of us that have day jobs won’t have to go to work on 4 hours sleep after staying up way too late just to witness an overtime loss in San Jose.  The renewed rivalries with Chicago, St. Louis and Colorado should garner some interest on a national level that we have not seen in quite some time, if ever. The Stars will also play every team in the Eastern Conference at home and away meaning Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will be making visits to the AAC twice as often as before.

All in all, this change is the biggest favor the NHL has done for the Stars since allowing the move from Minnesota 20 years ago. Look forward to an exciting season full of new/old rivalries, big name stars coming to town and lots of extra sleep.