Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Remembering the 2015-2016 Dallas Stars

(As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: One of their own fans because he's tired of media pushed unfunny jokes.)
*Blows dust off blogging keyboard*

Forgive me, for it has been a while, but I couldn't help but come across the Stars eulogy yesterday via Puck Daddy. Here I sat patiently avoiding some important chicken related business while hoping to be slapped across the face by someone on par with Eulogy heavyweights The Royal Half, Stace of Base, or two of my personal favorites Felix Potvin and MLSE of PPP. I mean Dallas was the second best team in the NHL and the top team in the Western Conference so surely everyone's favorite hockey blogger not named Sean Mcindoe sought out only the top tier Twitter talent to take on this tantalizing task. Instead we got a guy who is as relevant to the blog-o-sphere as Scott Glennie was to hockey. I applaud his effort though, as someone who apparently doesn't ever watch hockey, he sure nailed the forcefed NBC script. Thus, it is my goal to truly mourn this great loss today giving you the insight that you so desperately deserve.

It shouldn't have ended this way. With such a promising start to the 2015-2016 season and tons of talent, this was set to be an amazing year.  Sure it didn't start on the happiest of notes in seeing Rich Peverley retire, thus officially allowing the Dallas Stars to change the "Number of full seasons completed without a player almost dying in the middle of a game" to "1" with a strong hope that "2" was attainable.  The post season was the goal with sights set so much higher. It's weird to think that in the blink of an eye on a play so routine, an injury can change the course of your entire season. We'll never know how this year would have ended up had Tony Romo not fractured his collarbone, but I can imagine him holding the Vince Lombardi trophy over his head and kissing it while running laps around the field. Texas is football country and we shouldn't forget it.  Even everyone's favorite Stars owner Tom Hicks went out and invested in not just one, but two futbol franchises.  If that doesn't tell you that we're relegated to the back burner, then I don't know what does.  Realistically we know football is all Dallas fans care about.  Remember, we're in the minority, but just think, if Tony hadn't gotten injured and had in fact won the Super Bowl, maybe he still would have been off celebrating instead of bringing his horrible, no good, rotten luck to Game 7.

Then again, this was a team that shouldn't be eulogized, because it was supposed to be euthanized before the playoffs began. We know they were going to score lots of goals. They've been there and done that, but to win you need defense. Apparently the fearless leader Jim Nill heard this as de-Finns and despite all the goaltending talent available on the market for next to nothing, traded for Stanley Cup winner Antti Niemi. A goalie so well renowned by the team that he won a Stanley Cup with, that they immediately decided to part ways with him. If that isn't a vote of confidence, I don't know what is. Oh wait, there's more? This is also the guy who single handedly led the San Jose Sharks to choke-fest after choke-fest in the playoffs include blowing a 3-0 series lead? Well I'm glad the Stars signed up for that. Not just signed up, but signed up to the tune of 3 years at roughly more money than your whole family will make in their entire life time. None of this is new to you, the people spoke earlier.

Ironically, the percentage that voted "Your goalies suck" is almost identical to Dallas' save percentage this season
Thankfully, despite this A++ signing, we still have Kari Lehtonen available...every two out of three games that is. I'd continue down this hole of deep dark regret, but thankfully there is hope Stars fans. Jack Campbell is just moments away from taking the reigns and saving this franchise from its goaltending woes. Just as soon as he's able to wrestle away the starting job in the ECHL that is. No rush. While I know this is a tribute to the 2015-16 team, I know deep down everyone is already burying these two "keepers" and finding other viable solutions. Thankfully I see that everyone has pencilled in Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury as our new goaltending tandem for next year thus proving that if you thought $10.4 million was a lot for goaltending, $14.25 million should look way better. The team in front of these guys should look amazing given that after the trades there will be six forwards and Jordie Benn. In reality, it really does make sense that the Stars set a new NHL record for empty net goals this year, considering it wasn't really any different than a normal practice for them.

A new Stars tradition in the Damnitjason household
It truly is a sad world when the best defender on your entire team is actually a guy sitting in a booth watching video replays.  The Stars are probably better off cloning Kelly Forbes and paying him $4.5 million a year to do whatever video magic he does so that Dallas can shutout every team from now on.  I'd even be willing to sacrifice whatever budget was spent on confetti and streamers for each playoff win to add to his yearly salary.  Then again, maybe an easier idea would be to not purchase the entire Nickelback discography for Grubes.

No need to pick on the Stars staff though.  They were the ones who tirelessly had to watch hours of Game of Thrones footage to be able to run the same three clips with different scripts that were written to mimic that of a twelve year old girl.  Ur bumin' me out Jason Danby.  Then again, you don't mess with adults who are able to accurately portray themselves as an adolescent because those kinds of people, they work for Chris Hansen.  Really I shouldn't pick on the Stars staff, it was the players themselves who are truly the ones to blame, right?  It's not like Celina Rae announcing the "We're never going to give away any Dr Pepper during this promotion" minute was responsible for letting in goals.  The players are the ones that play the game.  We could easily pick on the likes of Jamie Oleksiak, who the only thing he hit harder and more often than Nicolas Deslaurier was the press box popcorn bucket.  We could also pick on that one fourth liner skater who wasn't really that good for most of the season and got scratched a few times.  Oh what's his name?  No, not Travis Moen.  Oh!  Val Nichushkin!  
The only thing I choose is that you start learning to play hockey
Ultimately, it really is the team as a whole that is at fault and not any individual I may or may not have mentioned *cough Jason Dumbers cough*.  During the 1999 Stanley Cup run, the Stars listened to bands that would pump them up for each game such as Pantera.  It would remain reasonable that this year's team did something similar to ensure that they were thoroughly pumped up before every game, so of course they turned to world renowned heavy metal artist Shania Twain.

Don't get me wrong, yeah I think you're alright...just not Western Conference Finals alright
We can just start going through players too.  Kris Russell?  Russellmania?  He was the only 'mania to cost more and be more of an overall disappointment to the Dallas area since Wrestlemania 32.  Speaking of defense, who can forget Norris candidate snub John Klingberg who continued served up assists all season long.  If he served up anymore from his failed power play entry zone drop passes to the opposition, I'd have hired him to wait tables a few years back.  There is always one half of the two Wild and Crazy Guys Ales Hemsky.  If I had a dime for every time Ales dazzled me with a play and scored on his subsequent shot, I'd have ZERO DIMES.  Cody Eakin?  Let's just say that "Cody Eakin: playoff first line center" should never be uttered by anyone unless they are making a horrible and hurtful joke.  Maybe next year after another one year deal for Patrick Eaves he can fully immerse himself in his protective cocoon of a beard so that he doesn't break himself in urgent times of need.  Let's not forget a bright spot on defense in the emergence of Stephen Johns.  Did you know that, to emulate the man he was traded for Trevor Daley, Johns led the team in plus/minus?  On the minus side that is, but you can tell him that, I'd prefer to stay in one piece.  Oh and the captain Jamie Benn, well...*Insert unoriginal oral sex joke here.*  Sure we could go through and name every single player, but we really just need to get to one:  Mr. Alexander Marcus Flint Goligoski.  I know many of you have been salivating for this moment, as well you should.  Mr. G. was AMAZING all post season and it is a shame that he, along with the rest of the team has died.  He did after all send his home state team packing with a series clinching goal and tried his damnedest to do it one game prior as well.  His play was just about the only inspirational thing to take away from this mess left by Lindy and friends.  The thankful news is that he played so well this post season, that he will most assuredly get re-signed to an insanely overpriced multi-year deal that will leave us all wanting to slice our own achilles or wrists and bleed out from it. 

How do you not give this man whatever the hell he asks for?

It also would be unfair of me to leave out the playoffs guests that we welcomed with open arms into the AAC.  The Mild came to town without half of their roster which was actually a smart idea because had they brought everyone, Norm Green would have likely appeared and tried to move them to Houston.  This series also taught us that the old cliche "the most dangerous lead in hockey is a two goal lead" is purely fiction because the real most dangerous lead in hockey is one that the Dallas Stars hold.  Alas, even with a series lead, the Wild were so pathetic that even the Stars could not lose to them.  Thankfully for the next round, Dallas had finally figured out the Stanley Cup powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks.  They pummeled them into submission all season, sans one Chicago home game at the American Airlines Center as a courtesy to those fans who paid quadruple and quintuple the actual price of their ticket, just waiting for the eventual playoff series between the two clubs...which never happened because in the playoffs the rest of the world learned what we already knew: Chicago just isn't very good this year.  Instead, Dallas got to play the Blues.  Two main issues with this series included Ruff's bold plan to try an upgrade of the neutral zone trap and play six players AND a goalie.  The results were less than desirable.  The second issue was the power play.  I'd bury the power play with the rest of this team, but it was obvious Kurt Fraser had already taken it out back and buried it behind the House of Blues after the first round.  Maybe it really is the Texas football ingrained in me that I discussed, but I've never wanted to decline penalties so much in my entire life.  And like all good things, the Stars playoff journey ended, but...

Maybe we are the ones that need to be analyzed.  Take a look at yourself in the mirror, ignore the glitter fragments left in your beard, those are never coming out.  Take a really good look because this is where a blogger from some God foresaken city that actually experiences four seasons can't comprehend that we are all dead now too.  Not from the stress of actually being in a game that has real implications or from one too many Segs & Bacon burgers, but the stress from wondering what will happen if Nick Moroch touched the glass again.  What did we expect from a fan base so entrenched and behind their team that the first comments of exuberation after the playoffs were set were "why do we have to play a game so late at night?"  Well thankfully, due to all the bitching, the NHL scheduled some afternoon games that really helped our team out, so thank you for voicing your opinions.  And best of all, now you don't have to complain about any start times since the Stars are dead.

So good riddance to the Dallas Stars of 2015-16.  Put them in the ground and bring on 2016-17.  And if you don't like what I wrote?


As always, feel free to leave your comments, hate mail, and new Stars player burger ideas, or just stalk me on Twitter , because what better things do you have to do while at work?