Feel that pain? It hurts, doesn’t it? It hurts to lose.
That’s the playoffs. The pain we feel today will make future achievements all the more sweeter. Dallas was the eight seed and not expected to challenge the Ducks. But they did.
The Stars can consider this season a fantastic success. They needed to do exactly what they did. No, I don’t mean lose in the first round. I mean get back to the post-season and give this city a taste of what it was missing.
And introduce a new set of sports heroes who might be around a while.
This team had no identity. None. Since Mike Modano, Marty Turco and Jere Lehtinen skated off into the sunset following the 2010 season, this team has wandered in the wilderness searching for anyone who might care.
Funny how just one playoff series can make a world of difference. I heard more sports talk about the Stars in the last two weeks than the last four years, combined.
Joe Fan in Dallas had heard Jamie Benn’s name prior to this season but really didn’t know how good he was. Tyler Seguin? They had no idea that the young center acquired in July might be the next cornerstone player.
Ryan Garbutt? Antoine Roussel? Cody Eakin? Please. These guys couldn’t have been picked out of a lineup two weeks ago. It would not surprise me if #21 jersey tees were now one of the top sellers in the Stars team store.
Guess what? This has happened before. It was 1995 and the Stars made a trade for a player who didn’t register on the sports fans’ radar until his role with the club began to make a difference and help get the team to the playoffs and eventually win Presidents’ Trophies and a Stanley Cup. His name was Guy Carbonneau.
Now I’m not saying that Antoine Roussel is Guy Carbonneau (though they both share #21) but the truth is, no one would ever known (or cared) about Carbo unless the Stars started winning and making post-season runs.
That’s the thing about sports. The emotional bond formed through the passion of winning and losing is huge. The problem – there is no emotion without the playoffs. Give us a reason to care and we will. Big time.
Look at the Texas Rangers. Do you think anyone would really hold players like David Murphy or Mike Napoli in such high regard without the World Series runs of 2010 and 2011?
When you go to war with someone and they carry your flag with passion and honor, they earn your respect and interest.
That’s what was on the line three weeks ago. The Stars needed to win important games down the stretch to get in the playoffs for the first time in five years and did it.
Relevance. It’s a big deal. Think Dallas really cared about the Mavericks in the mid-90s before Nowitzki, Nash and Finley helped them back to the playoffs? It’s amazing what just one playoff series will do for a team’s identity in the marketplace. But now the Stars must build on it.
Like Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk before them, Benn and Seguin have forged their way into the forefront of the Dallas sports fan’s mind as leaders of our team. Roussel, Garbutt, Eakin, Alex Goligoski, Alex Chiasson, and Kari Lehtonen – all part of a budding team. And like 1995-96, we can see the future is bright.
There is no question that the accomplishment of making the playoffs in 2014 will do wonders for this group. Will it lead to more division titles or even another Stanley Cup? Who knows?
But come next October, when the NHL season starts up again, Dallas will know the guys who play for their hockey team and want to go watch them go to battle again.
Better order up some more #21 jersey tees.