A Superfan's Guide To Why You Should Hop On The Dallas Stars Bandwagon Right This Second.
Hey, Dallas! How's it going? You got enough sports going on in your life right now? Nope, you don't, because hockey hasn't started yet. Not locally, at least. Not until tonight when the Dallas Stars welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to town for their season opener at the American Airlines Center.
Sorry, those are just the facts.
“But the Rangers are in the playoffs!” you might be saying. Yup, they sure are. And, OK, that's pretty cool, actually! But pretty much everyone thinks they're going to lose badly in this opening round against Toronto — and, honestly, I didn't really even remember they played baseball up in Canada until this week. That's on me. But if the Rangers disappointing you yet again sounds like your idea of a good time — and, worse, predictably this time — that's on you.
“Uh, what about the Cowboys?” you might ask. What? C'mon. No Dez? No Romo? No hope. Don't be dumb.
“But the Mavericks are about to come back,” you might plea. No. Nope. Nuh-uh. They're really not. Not to form, at least. Not when anyone even close to resembling a big-name free agent avoids joining this squad at any and all costs, reputations be damned.
“You're forgetting about FC Dallas!” you would argue. Hahahahahahahaha. I'm really not! I mean, I guess it's cool that they're en route to another MLS playoff? But then I would have to remember that the MLS a) exists, and b) has a playoff system, apparently?
And since we're talking sports, let's briefly mention the sorry state of the local college sports scene: TCU's football team is a big sneeze away from its defense completely crumbling and its once-promising season falling apart; SMU's football team is at least three years away from relevancy; and SMU's basketball team is literally not even allowed to make it to the postseason this year no matter what.
Listen, I don't say the above out of spite. I really don't. I like all those other sports teams just fine. I promise I do. I'm just a realist, is all. I bring the above up simply because I'm observant enough to see that there's a gaping hole in all of your Dallas-centric sports hearts at the moment. And, also, because I want to tell you that the Dallas Stars are the answer to all of your sporting woes.
(Yes, I know we've said it before. But this time we mean it!)
First of all, how can you not love hockey? It's such a beautifully unique sport to watch. It has everything. Have you ever tried ice skating? It's hard enough on its own. But these guys do it while maintaining control of a little rubber disk with a long cricket bat that they have to hold with their hands, all while also trying to coordinate passes and avoid other huge guys who are coming at them in the opposite direction, intent on knocking them on their asses. Hockey is a thrilling, nonstop, edge-of-your-seat sports drama. Name me another professional team sport where two guys can have a fist-fight and the only repercussion is being sent to a penalty box for five minutes so they can catch their breath. You can't, can you? Better still, name me a sport where those same guys will hug it out and high-five one another in the immediate wake of that brawl. No, sorry, there isn't one.
As for the Stars themselves, they're just one one of the most exciting young batches of talent assembled onto any singular hockey team in the world.
Do I even need to explain to you all how great Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin are? They are so goddamn great, and the Stars are fortunate to have them as the cornerstones of the franchise for the right now and, hopefully, for a long time to come.
Just last year, the 26-year-old Benn led the National Hockey League in points scored (goals and assists combined) — a title he earned in dramatic fashion by notching four points in the final game of last season, the last of which came with just nine seconds left in the contest. It was amazing.
As for Seguin? The 23-year-old only finished six slots behind his teammate in the scoring race. Also, your girlfriend probably loves him — just as she should! Dude is a superstar. He poses nude for ESPN: The Magazine and makes cameos in movies. Also, his laugh is just the whale's tail. I love him, and you will too.
Then there's everyone else! General manager Jim Nill is insanely good at trades, player acquisitions and signings, you guys. This team is just so deep. There are the young players like Valeri Nichushkin (you can just call him Nuke) and John Klingberg (Klingon or Klinger, if M*A*S*H is more your thing) and Jyrki Jokipakka (just say his whole name every time because it's fun). And then there's the experienced veterans Vernon Fiddler, the newly acquired Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi, who all have seven Stanley Cups between them.
I know the Stars missed the playoffs last year. I know that. But I also know that the defense played atrociously. And I know, too, that this year's whole roster — on all fronts — is a vastly improved one. Nill just keeps making trades that seem impossible — kinda like when he traded for the high-scoring former baby model Jason Spezza last year. Spezza's still around, too, by the way. And I think Nill's still got more tricks up his sleeve, too.
Really, this is a crafty organization — probably the craftiest in town. Nill's a wizard with the salary cap, and he keeps adding pieces because Tom Gaglardi, who bought the team in 2011, isn't reigning in any spending like the previous regime did.
Off the ice, meanwhile, the Stars are constantly working toward cultivating a hockey culture in Dallas. Through the team's support, the club hockey scene around here feels as if it's now as big as it has ever been. Hell, the team even sponsors free classes for kids to learn about the game.
Even us adults have it good. I mean, do you follow the Stars on Twitter? You really should. They've got the best social media team in the business, and they're not scared of anyone, as evidenced by the tweet below.
Honestly, I don’t even know how the team’s official Twitter gets away with some of the things it posts given how sensitive everyone is to everything these days. But they do, and it's hilarious.
The in-game experience at the American Airlines Center is also way on point — so much so that it gets national love for keeping things fun. Go to a game this year and I promise you'll at least walk away from the AAC with a smile on your face. Hell, you might even have so much fun that you'll buy your first-ever Victory Green sweater. (Oh, a sweater is what they call the jerseys in hockey… because Canada, I guess.)
But more important than all of that is this: The Stars are going to win another Stanley Cup, you guys. I promise you, they are.
Maybe not this year — although I do currently have an optimistic $200 bet with a buddy of mine that says otherwise — but definitely sooner than later. I can feel it. Can't you? Do you not get the same feeling when talking about these Stars that you did back in 1999 when this team won its first title? Try harder, because it's all right there for you to bask in. It's a good feeling.
(It should also be noted, too, that the Stanley Cup is the greatest trophy ever created. You can't even touch it until you win it, and once you do you can fill it with beer or Cheerios or spare ribs or whatever you want and just laugh and laugh and hug it and stare at it all day. I imagine that winning the Stanley Cup feels a lot like stepping onto the surface of the moon. I imagine a great many things about it. It's the Holy Grail.)
So, anyway, that's my pitch. The Stars are growing and improving as a team every year, and now is one hundred percent the time to hop on this train if you haven’t already. You're going to love this team, I promise. They're so fun. And, right now, there's just such a great buzz and an excitement surrounding them — one that hasn’t existed here for hockey in a long time. It's an amazing thing.
Ugh. It's so good that hockey's back, you guys.