Tag Archive for opening night

Dallas Stars Season Opener Poem!

by Beth

Opening day is finally here!
Put on your jersey and grab a beer!
The summer was a long but busy one,
Time to test what Jim Nill has done.
The pieces of our puzzle appear to fit just fine, I believe we have four
terrific lines!
Can’t wait to see the magic of Seguin & Benn, And I’m expecting a great year for
Val Nichuskin!
With the awesome addition of Hemsky and Spezza, Our opponents should be fearful!
Yep, you betcha!
Finally got Dillon and Eakin signed,
I really think our Stars are aligned!
I can’t say enough about Fiddler and Roussel.
They give our team a spark, I hope they both do well.
Kari struggled a bit in the pre-season,
But worry? Right now I have no reason.
We fans are super excited and hyped up!
Tonight begins our quest for the Stanley Cup!
GO STARS!

EDITORS NOTE: This was pushed to the website on time for opening night, but I neglected to publish it in a timely manner. I will not let that happen again! -Warden Jay

Hockey Fights Cancer – This Time Its Personal

by Matt Day
Better than a surgical mask

“Welcome to the American Airlines Center” That is what I read as my backside laid at center ice and I stared at the arena ceiling, with thousands of people laughing at me and my Ice Girl crush in the corner of my eye looking disappointed as she said “Oh, Matt!” I had made a pretty poor attempt at musical chairs during an intermission of a preseason game in 2010. What no one else realized is that I was having trouble even standing and walking at that point. That moment was my rock bottom. I could no longer deny that there was something seriously wrong with me. I was weak and as I got up from the ice I noticed that my skin was the same color as the ice. I finally stopped making excuses and went to the doctor. The next day the doctor sent me to the emergency room and a few days following that, I was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. As we began “Hockey Fights Cancer” month my battle had already started.

I could tell my oncologist was nervous when he sat us down to tell us the news and a little shocked at my reaction. I found it a relief that they knew what the problem was. I knew it was going to be a long and difficult road but I relied on a philosophy I learned from my grandfather. There is a path laid before you and you must take that path. You can’t take it kicking, screaming, whining, and complaining or you can lift your head up and take it like a man. No one will fault you either way, but really how do you want to be remembered? That attitude my faith, family,  and friends helped more than you can imagine. This is the story of my Stars family and how they supported me during this most trying time.

I was too weak and my blood volume was too low for surgery. To build me up I was given one liter of an iron solution every day for two weeks. I got the nickname of Ironman around the clinic. The time came for surgery and my surgeon wanted to have it as soon as I could. He scheduled me for October 14, 2010. I saw that it was the day of the Stars home opener and the return of Mike Modano as a Redwing. I told my doctor if he truly wanted me to be in good spirits for the surgery he would postpone the surgery and allow me to make that game. He agreed and so I made plans to go to what I thought could be my last game.

The Stars started their season on the road which meant my first opportunity to speak to members of my Stars family in person would be at a watching party. I learned that if I told my friends and family in person and I stayed calm that it went over much better.  I did that for all but one group of friends that night. Word spread around the restaurant and had reached the Ice Girls. I knew we got a long but I didn’t realized how close I was to that special group of ladies until that night. I’m still sorry for making it so difficult for their director to keep a smile on their face all night. That night, the encouragement, and support they have given me ever since is why I will always look out for them.

It was time for the opener and the Stars Fanatics had a pregame tailgate party. It was there that I received the greatest hockey gift ever. The group had gone to practices and had the Stars team autograph an inflatable butt cushion. I deeply cherish that gift even today. That game was one of the best and most memorable games I’ve been too in my 18 plus years as a season ticket holder.

Matt's Team Signed Cushion

Matt’s Team Signed Cushion

At first it was thought that I would only need to have surgery to have a golf ball sized tumor removed. After opening me up they realized it was a puck sized tumor, I lost a third of my colon and I would need chemotherapy. I received several visits from coworkers, friends, and family including my Stars family, but I always seemed to get an encouraging message just at the right time from. The night before having my medical port put in I was feeling really down and couldn’t sleep. I looked at my phone and I had a Facebook message from Celena Rae who had just learned of my struggles. It was a long, touching letter that cheered me up to the point I could sleep. The same thing happened the night before I was to start chemotherapy but this time it was from my favorite Ice Girl who also had just found out. She told me the encouraging story of her friend who had gone through the same thing. It seemed as if I was receiving the encouragement I needed just when I needed it. It came from many sources but in this case from my Stars family.

The support I received on game days was overwhelming. It started with my favorite bartender and my pregame restaurant that wouldn’t serve me a beer without a doctor’s note. Then there was the pregame hugs and kind words I was given when making my rounds. A friend would also sneak homemade cookies into the arena for me. However, the greatest lasting encouragement came from another source.

Part of my chemotherapy required me taking a pump home or my “poison to go box” as I called it. There would be nights were I would have to carry this to the games and watching parties with me. To be safe I would need to wear a surgical mask when in public to protect my weak immune system. Walking through a dollar store looking for masks I noticed a little girl with a cast that was signed by her friends. I also noticed a different kind of mask on the shelf. I bought a Jason style goalie mask and decided I would rather be known as the crazy guy at games than the sick one. I brought a marker so that my friends could sign it and I could hang it up on the wall for the times I was sick, home alone, and feeling down. The masks caught on and before too long I had a wall full of masks some of which were decorated for me. It was such a touching gesture.

I am now three years cancer free and couldn’t be more appreciative of the Stars organization and what they have meant to me. From my fellow fans, my Ice Girl sisters, players, and those in the front office I consider them all my family. When you see me dress up, greet and entertain fans it is just my way of giving back to an organization that has done so much.

I love you all! Go Stars!!!

Stars Game 1 – A New Hope

by Matt Day
Opening Night at American Airlines Center

Over forty nights a year are spent together with thousands of the same people, with the same hopes and dreams as you on the roller coaster ride we call a hockey season. All that time spent experiencing the same intense emotions, you begin to bond with other fans, the atmosphere, and even the team itself. You never want that feeling to end, you want it to last as long as possible but one day you hear the final whistle and it’s over.

We are left with an empty void for months. That whole time we try to recreate the experience with no success. We try to figure out what went wrong and who should be cut or fired. We think about the good in the team and what we can build on. We might follow the draft, free agent signings, and trades. We listen to other fan or writer opinions while we form our own. We watch preseason hoping we see something positive in the team, but even that doesn’t satisfy our need to fill the void left at the last season’s end. This whole offseason has been building up to one moment. This is the moment when months of speculation start to become reality. New general managers, coaches, and player changes finally start taking shape.

This is game one, this is opening night and there is always something special in the air. Is it the smell of the ice, because it has never smelt fresher? Could it be the scent of vulcanized rubber or the sound of the pucks as they hit the glass? Those are great things but I speak of a feeling shared by thousands of fans that attend the opener. It is the feeling of hope. Every team starts the same and there is a hope that this time will be special. Perhaps this is our year you never know.

I never miss an opener because the experience is one of the best you will get this side of the playoffs. I have been to every home opener since 1996. I’ve missed important meetings, business trips and more. In fact the importance of this game to me was clearly shown in 2010. After being diagnosed with colon cancer my doctor scheduled surgery for me to have a puck sized tumor removed. He told me the date and I said, “No! That’s the day of the Stars home opener I will not miss it. What’s the next possible date and can you get me well enough to make the game?” I made the game and have been cancer free ever since. The point of that story is that the home opener has come to symbolize even more to me.

It’s a celebration of new hopes and beginnings for the team and for me personally. That’s why you might see me going the extra mile in my crazy outfits or my efforts to greet the fans and get the crowd into the game. If it’s a new beginning then we want to get it started right. Fans can motivate teams, a motivated team gains momentum, momentum can win games and create winning streaks. So what are we waiting for? Let’s Go Stars!!!

My opening night costume, alongside the Dallas Stars Ice Girls

My opening night costume, alongside the Dallas Stars Ice Girls.

Excitement Boiling Over? Not Yet, But It Is Time to Get Your Hope Up!

by Kevin Lindstrom

The fan-base of Our Dallas Stars has taken its share of kicks to the shin over the past few years. For good reason, a lot of The Faithful have put away their signs, their uniforms, the hair-color and face-paint. But in November of 2011, a new owner was approved for the team, and there was reason for at least the potential of optimism.

But he took his time, letting the current organization run its course, watching to see where changes needed to be made – frankly, proper due-diligence. Somewhat surprisingly, though, it wasn’t after the 2011-2012 season that changes were made.But at the end of the 2012-2013 season, it was time. Our new owner decided his evaluation period was over and it was time to start making the organization in his image.

Oh my goodness, has he!

New GM – fantastic choice. New coach – probably a good move, time will tell. LOTS of new players, big moves – a lot looks good on the front end, but as with all player moves, time will tell. New jerseys – some like more than others.

But the bottom line is you clearly have a totally engaged owner who has gone all-in to make this his team. As we have seen, this cuts both ways (*cough*Tom Hicks with the Rangers*cough*, *cough*Jerry Jones*cough*, *cough*early Mark Cuban*cough*), but at the start the fans have to appreciate the change from what we had post-Ken Hitchcock until now – no more lack of investment in players, no more “we will do the best we can with what we have.”

And as we work our way through those decisions, I gain more and more confidence that this organization is in fact going in the right direction.

The fun part is Thursday night, we get to start seeing how it all plays out on the ice, start getting data and real information – then we can see how leadership reacts to it!

That is a lot of changes to review, and some of it is not as time-sensitive as Thursday night, so I am going to be more cursory on some of it, saving bandwidth for the changes we are going to see the most on opening day.

But the overall view from the cheap seats? Get excited as the beginnings of something wonderful are in the works, and if nothing else, we have a straw stirring the drink with the sole goal of winning and championships for YOUR DALLAS STARS!

So now is the time – get out your face-paint, your favorite sweater, your cough-drops; start making those signs for the new players and dust off the old ones for the retuning players and the team as a whole; get ready because Thursday night is a mere hours away!

Ownership
R. Thomas Gaglardi is in some ways perfect. A Canadian with a Canadian’s love of the sport, but who has local ties.  No one doubted that he would come in and make changes. The question was the quality of the changes, and to the extent possible, whether he was being over-involved.

The GM move was – in this writer’s estimation – brilliant. You simply could not have made a better choice than Jim Nill, and it reflects very well on Gaglardi that he was able to close a deal with Nill as he had turned down numerous opportunities elsewhere to come to a franchise that wasn’t one of the Original Six, no matter the power of the sports market or the fact that you had clear data points of how that market would react to a champion.

This writer, on the other hand, is not a jersey-buff. Unless a jersey change is Atlanta Thrashers-ugly, I will probably be okay with it. I came to love the Stars during the early years, so I will always have fond memories of those early sweaters, but I wasn’t turned-off by the black-themed stuff, nor am I put off by the new green sweater or the new logo. I do note that many thing that it is a more traditional hockey look, and I am okay with that. If I had an opinion, I think a stronger – deeper, darker – green would be a better choice, but I’m not sure I even care that much.

General Manager
As mentioned above, getting Nill was a brilliant move on paper – the brightest mind from one of the most storied, and most successful of NHL organizations. But as we evaluate him in what he has done, we have to look past the initial impression, to the actual choices.

A major trade was made with the recent Stanley Cup runner-up, leading to the acquisition of some major talent. The biggest piece is Tyler Seguin, a phenomenal talent that had struggled to find a comfortable role for the Bruins. Now he gets a chance to be the young talent that is the beginning of the second Golden Era of the Dallas Stars. Question is, will he?

Another major acquisition was Sergei Gonchar. Is this is the blue-liner that had been missing from the Stars for many years? On paper, absolutely.

Other player moves were also made, but at the end of the day, those were the biggies, along with naming Jamie Benn the Captain.

This brings us to the other big move by Nill – the coaching staff. Jim didn’t get his top choice, but he did get Lindy Ruff, a well-respected coach who, ironically, lost in his only Stanley Cup appearance to our very own Dallas Stars. The big question here is will Ruff be able to mold the roster that Nill has put together and turn them into a playoff team? Again, on paper, his history with Buffalo looks like the answer is yes.

In this writer’s opinion, I do not see the Ruff hiring in the same light as Nill’s. In some ways it is very simple – he wasn’t the best option available. On the other hand, does he have to be? Do we really think that the current coach needs to be the guy we think will lead this team back to getting the names of the Dallas Stars back on the Stanley Cup? Or is this the guy to mold this current crop – this new foundation, a mix of old and new – into something that Nill can then add to over the course of a set of seasons to building from bottom third to middle third, setting the table for another seismic shift getting into that top third and eventually a Cup contender? The Buck Showalter to Ron Washington maneuver, if you will.

In that light, I think that we are looking at a “good enough” move, with the potential to be more. Who knows – maybe Ruff can be the guy to shepherd this franchise back to the Land of Lord Stanley? But even if not, he can at least help get things going in the right direction – because there are very few Jimmy Johnsons.

No more “On-Paper”
So this is why Thursday night is so exciting – the potential energy of all those moves finally gets to apply pressure on the kinetic energy of reality, and we get to find out how players perform together and for their coaches. It is here that we can start to really judge them and the coaches – the action-reaction of live play.

So like I said, break out the sweater, the goalie mask, the signs and yes, your hope. It IS time to get your hopes up. True, they may be dashed again, but that is the nature of being a fanatic. But I have faith that this owner, this general manager and this coach are worth of the faith that they will be good stewards of your hope, and let hockey happen!

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