The "L" Word and the effect on the Dallas Stars
Texas is not well known for its love of all things hockey. It doesn't have an ice rink on every corner, nor do the sports stores sell much, if any, hockey equipment. If an agreement is not reached between both sides for the upcoming season and we lose a year of Dallas Stars hockey, then Dallas will be heading in the wrong direction to promote the sport and draw in the younger fans. Towards the end of last year as the season was in its final few weeks and the Dallas Stars fell short of a playoff position, the fans rallied. March saw the largest crowd in franchise history, 19,099 fans crowded the stadium to cheer on their beloved hockey team. While earlier that season, in October in fact, the Stars managed to set a record low attendance of only 6,306.
Now, with next season in doubt, not only may we miss a year of beloved Dallas Stars hockey, but we may lose some of the names that the business end had acquired this summer. Jaromir Jagr signed a one year contract with the Stars and has done more in his playing career than many players could ever hope for. The certain hall of fame star was playing in the KHL, where many thought that he would retire, when he signed a one year deal with Philadelphia re-igniting his NHL career. However, at the age of 40 and with his many accomplishments and records he has set, his last year in the NHL may have been last year. Then there is captain Brenden Morrow, with a year left on his contract as captain of the Dallas Stars. Many believed a possible trade before this season although GM Joe assured everyone of his stability with the franchise for this year. Next year however he will be free to choose his own destiny after the year left on his contract expires. Derek Roy was traded to the Stars for fan favorite Steve Ott, along with Adam Pardy. Roy also becomes an unrestricted free agent following this season, and although he may relish the extra time for rehabilitation after his surgery, this Stars fan was certainly excited to see what the former Sabre had to deliver in a Stars outfit. Kari Lehtonen was quite possibly the reason that the Stars made such a surge to the playoffs last season, and at times was certainly the best goalie in the NHL. This year is his last before becoming an unrestricted free agent. With the season he had last year will the Stars be able to afford such an amazing talent when there are many teams in need of his elite skills? Top goal scorer Michael Ryder is another name that has a year left on his contract before becoming a UFA, along with Eric Nystrom and Mark Fistric.
Now this may seem doom and gloom for the Stars franchise with so many important players a season away from free agency. Many of these athletes you would hope will extend their careers with the Stars and remain in Dallas, but nothing is certain. Our only certainty right now is that the season is in jeopardy, and a season lost in Dallas will affect our fanbase tremendously. A year off for us here in Dallas will only strengthen the support for our already successful NBA, NFL, and MLB franchises. However in Winnipeg, Minnesota, Quebec? people will flock back to the game that they cherish, however disgruntled they may be after a season of no play. We need an NHL season to further our popularity in the lone star state. We recruited the likes of Jagr, Whitney, Roy, Rome, and Eakin, to light a fire under the average Dallas Stars fan and let them know that this year is different, this year we will be better, faster, and stronger. We may have the opportunity to witness Oleksiak and the 3 Smiths if the season continues as scheduled. I just can't fathom a season of no play in one year and record ticket sales the next.
We can support the Texas Brahmas, the Allen Americans, the Amarillo Bulls, and the Texas Stars, but what we really want to do is support our Dallas Stars. Watch them batter opponents against the glass from rinkside seats at the AAC. To see Jamie Benn progress to one of the best in the NHL while learning from the best in the NHL. There is no doubt that this season will be an important season in Dallas Stars history. Collectively as Dallas Stars fans we must support and follow our franchise through this season and onto the next, always trusting our players and our administration to provide us the best chance possible to bring back Stan.