Five years. 

The Dallas Stars have failed to make the playoffs for the 5th year in a row and that has many of the fans feeling a roller coaster of feelings.  Of course with any sense of failure, anger and sadness is a very common feeling.  Most of the diehard Stars fans, the ones who feel attached and invested in the team (those are generally the fans who refer to the team as “we”) are sad because in their longest playoff drought since coming to Dallas in 1993, and despite the long 5 years, in the grand scheme of things, 2008 wasn’t that long ago.

But to use the title of the book that Bob Sturm wrote about the championship run of the Dallas Mavericks, this year is different.

In 2011, I was watching the final game of the season as the Dallas Stars had to just defeat the Minnesota Wild to qualify for the playoffs thanks to the Chicago Blackhawks losing that afternoon.  As I’m sitting there and time begins to vanish from the game clock, my first son, who was still learning to crawl around, would be introduced to the concept of the sports tear.  A single tear ran down my face as this was the team that could make a push, despite not having an owner.  However, it wasn’t to be and instead of being a “destiny” type team, the financial situation of Tom Hicks started to attack the club.  Players didn’t want to be around when the financial stability of the team could not be guaranteed.

So, Brad Richards quickly packed his gear and went to the Big Apple.  And 2012 came along and with the likes of Sheldon Souray and Radek Dvorak had a huge impact, but once again, as the schedule started to come down to the end, the Stars found themselves on the outside looking in.  This time, I was filled with anger.  The Stars weren’t ever really considered contenders last year, but losing the last 5 games in a row to end the season was inexcusable.  To make matters worse, the Texas Stars had just finished their season in the AHL dead last in the Western Conference.

Here we are again; having to fight hockey players for tee times on the golf courses.  This time, however, I’m not sad or angry.  Sure, I miss playoff hockey and I’m even more grateful for the opportunity to cover the Allen Americans during their Cup run.  But there’s something missing during the spring when we aren’t treated to those late night, overtime thrillers we became accustomed to versus Edmonton.  Even then, I’m not upset.  In fact, I’ve never been more excited about a future season than I am about next year.

Each of Dallas’ affiliates are making serious post season runs.  The aforementioned Americans open up their series against Wichita on Tuesday for the Ray Miron Cup in the Central Hockey League.  The Americans have made the post season all 4 years of their existence and this is their 2nd trip to the CHL Finals.  I would be beyond shocked if Allen’s goaltender, Aaron Dell didn’t at least get an invite to Stars camp, assuming some other organization doesn’t come swoop him up first.

The ECHL affiliate for the Stars, the Idaho Steelheads are squaring off against the Ontario Reign in the West Finals.  Dallas native, Austin Smith has spent most of the season in Boise and has 6 points through 9 playoff games.  Tyler Beskorowany and Josh Robinson have platooned in the crease and are a combined 5-3 with a save percentage of 90.

Of course, the biggest highlight is the play of the AHL affiliate, Texas Stars.  The Stars finished with the best record in the West and have called up some of the best talent in the organization in large part to other leagues either finishing play or particular teams finishing their season.  Brett Ritchie, Jamie Oleksiak (who has gone back and forth between Austin and Dallas) and Radek Faksa just to name a few are in Milwaukee to open up their Calder Cup run.  You’ll also find Kevin Connauton who is the young defenseman we obtained from Vancouver in the Derek Roy trade.  Then of course, you’ve got two of the hottest goaltending tandems in recent history with 2010 number one draft pick, Jack Campbell and FA steal of this past summer, Cristopher Nilstorp. 

I’m a believer of “just get in,” when it comes to the post season.  Obviously, it worked very well for the Los Angeles Kings last year.  Sure, we most likely would have been destroyed by the Blackhawks in the first round, but even then, it’s playoff hockey and there’s nothing like it.  I would encourage all of you, if you have the opportunity to go see our future Stars in their respective playoff series.  Most of all, I encourage all of you to call 214-GO STARS and secure your tickets for the 2013-2014 season.  Between the realignment and new rivalries that will stem from that along with the young talent, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be excited about the upcoming seasons. 

This team had the opportunity to pack up shop and call it quits on April 3rd after the “fire sale,” but they didn’t.  This team gave us all a glimmer of hope…a reason to believe.  I believe in the future of the Dallas Stars.  In the coming days and weeks, we will bring you as much information from the aforementioned playoff series that are going on and as I mentioned yesterday, we will have representation at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft being held in New Jersey.  There, we will bring you interviews, pictures of the newest members of the team and most likely (this is one of the few pieces of speculation you’ll ever find on our site) the first official look at the new jersey.

As we come up on our one year anniversary (June 19th), I want to say thank you to all of you who have allowed us to talk hockey and provide our opinions and hopefully, insight.  I recommit our dedication to provide the most ACCURATE information that we possibly can, given the access we may or may not have.  Here’s to an eventful 2013 and a promising summer as we head into the full season starting next October.