As a lead-up to the new season, here at HockeyBroad we'll both be reviewing How Teams Spent Their Summer Vacation, and also profiling one fan from each team's fandom, covering 30 Teams In 30 Days. The teams will be profiled in order determined by their points standing last season, highest to lowest, with the exception of Chicago, which will be profiled last to coincide with the date of their Training Camp Festival.
Team 15 of 30: the Dallas Stars
HOW THE DALLAS STARS SPENT THEIR SUMMER VACATION
The Dallas Stars were on the cusp of going to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2008 - all they had to do was win one game against a team that had already fallen out of the running a couple weeks earlier, a game
Some 400 miles southeast of them, the Chicago Blackhawks were disappointed after a game #82 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. As far as anybody knew, their season was over - the only thing that stood between them and Dallas making it into the playoffs was either the Hawks winning or the Stars losing, and there wasn't anybody who thought Dallas would blow it.
To watch that game, you can only imagine that the Stars skated into that game, that building, elated that the Blackhawks had lost earlier in the evening, and assuming that night's game - their own game 82 - would be a cakewalk.
But the Minnesota Wild had other ideas. Back in 1993, the Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars, and although the Wild has only been around since 200o, it's only natural that there's a rivalry between these two teams. The Wild was determined to go out with their heads held high - and take the Dallas Stars with them.
The Wild's website said it all later that night: "By the way Chicago... you're welcome."
The Stars have had a long summer to think about that night in St. Paul.
In one of the top UFA questions of the summer, their biggest star, Brad Richards, ultimately signed a massive, multi-year contract with the New York Rangers. While Richards' departure was painful for Dallas, the team made some very good depth moves over the summer to position themselves for the new season.Tops on the signings list is Michael Ryder, who'll be joining the team with a freshly minted Stanley Cup championship ring. Vernon Fiddler is a good addition to the forward lines while Adam Pardy helps solidify the blue line. Jake Dowell adds more grit to an already-physical team as well.
New to team - listed on current roster/team acquired from: Jake Dowell (CHI), Radek Dvorak (ATL), Vernon Fiddler (PHX), Adam Pardy (CGY), Michael Ryder (BOS), Sheldon Souray (EDM)
Players who appeared in games for the team during the 2010-11 season that have been traded or not re-signed/(team now signed with): Aaron Gagnon (WPG), Jamie Langenbrunner (STL), Brad Richards (NYR), Karlis Skrastins (KHL)
Getting close enough to sniff the playoffs in the air isn't going to be good enough for Dallas next spring. Interestingly enough, they open their season in a home/away pair of games against the Chicago Blackhawks. After the Hawks got steamrolled by the Stars' physicality last season, Chicago bulked up - so those two games should be an explosive start to both teams' seasons.
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Shannysland, who's been a Stars fan for 17 years.
Taking into consideration your team's performance last year/recently, and any player/personnel (coaches, GMs, ownership) changes made in the past few months, talk about your team in 2011-2012: How do you think they've improved (or made worse)? What do they need to work on?
The 2010-11 Stars were surprisingly successful in the first half of the season. They even spent a few glorious weeks a top the Pacific division. A slew of injuries to key players & a slump down the stretch is what ultimately caused them to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season.
The offseason saw its share of drama, too, with the firing of head coach Marc Crawford, the endless rumors about new ownership, & the loss of #1 center Brad Richards to free agency. GM Joe Nieuwendyk didn’t let any of that stop him from signing seven new players & hiring Glen Gulutzen.
Will adding much need depth & grit as well as a fresh faced new head coach help the Stars be contenders? That remains to be seen & what has me super excited for the 2011-12 season. Is it October yet?
Which player that your team signed/acquired this summer are you most excited to see take the ice this season?
Michael Ryder - "the unicorn"
Whether or not you think your team will make the playoffs, where do you predict your team will place within their conference?
7th in the Western Conference
What was your favorite moment for your team last season?
What existing hockey rule would you change (and how) if you could?
Get rid of the freaking trapezoid!