Don’t blow this, Stars.
For the first time in a long time, the Dallas Stars have an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot. Tonight.
Get two points this evening vs. the St. Louis Blues and the Stars return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Thanks to the Nashville Predators, who blanked the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night, Dallas’ magic number to earn a playoff spot is down to two.
Even if the Stars lose Friday night, they can still get in the playoffs with a win at Phoenix on Sunday to close out the regular season. But let’s not let it come to that now, shall we?
This team needs to make the post-season in the worst way. Yes, even Capt. Obvious knows this. But this Stars team is in a unique position, and the opportunity in front of them is too big to squander.
Somewhere along the way, the Stars lost their identity. Even this season, most of the real promotion (that anyone cares about anyway) has centered around the greatest player in the team’s history. Hanging Mike Modano’s number 9 in the rafters was great, but there’s one problem – when you retire a number, that means he isn’t about to walk out that player tunnel again.
The good news – the Stars need only qualify for the post-season to take a huge step forward and return to relevance in this market. For the last five years, especially since Modano, Marty Turco and Jere Lehtinen left the team in 2010, most casual fans in Dallas probably couldn’t even name more than one or two players on the Stars’ roster.
It’s time to change that.
The late 90’s and early 2000’s version of this hockey team had players that were like rock stars. Sports fans in Dallas knew all the names – Modano, Hull, Belfour, Nieuwendyk, Zubov, Sydor, Langenbrunner, Carbonneau, Lehtinen, Matvichuk and Ludwig. And the reason is simple – those teams created memories.
Those memories began with a simple successful first season in Dallas in 1993-94. That team didn’t do much, but what it did do was introduce playoff hockey to the Metroplex in a first round win over the Blues and a second round series vs. the eventual West champion Vancouver Canucks.
It was a start. And it was enough.
Dallas was hooked. The word started to get out – Stars games was where it all happened and it was the place to be. The team had a young core of players to build on and they seized the moment. The next thing you know, division championships and Presidents’ Trophies followed, as well as a Stanley Cup.
Now, I’m not promising that kind of run again from this bunch, but you have to start somewhere. It’s time to really introduce Dallas to this club, especially young phenoms Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
There is nothing like the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and quite frankly, this town has forgotten how great it can be. Even a first round exit would be fine; just give the Dallas sports fan a taste with a big win at home in Game Three or Four (or both).
GM Jim Nill has done a tremendous job in his first year on the job. He’s in this thing for the long haul, but Dallas needs to be as well.
Seguin has 36 goals and 83 points. Benn has 34 tallies and 77 points. They are two of the best players in the game at 22 and 24 years old, respectively. It’s time that people start noticing.
So let’s put this thing to bed tonight, Stars. The road to sports relevance starts with the playoffs.
Just ask Tony Romo. He’ll tell you not to leave things open until that final game of the regular season.