By Will Martin
Deep in the heart of a pitchers duel that would go extra innings with the Rangers and the Astros last Friday Chuck Morgan made the announcement fans have wanted to hear for six long years.
“Ladies and gentlemen, over at the American Airlines Center the Dallas Stars have defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0. With that win the Dallas Stars are going to the playoffs!”
And with that declaration a chorus of 36,150 fans on a Friday night let their voices be heard. Twitter blew up locally as longtime friend and mentor made it a point to mention how the last time the Dallas Stars were in the playoffs, George W. Bush was President.
A little added irony: Friday night April 11th was the 20-year anniversary for the birth of the Ballpark now affably called Globe Life Park. For seven solid years I can count the numerous times as an Arlington resident I partook in the daily shuttle double of a ball game and something happening at the AAC (as we say here in North Texas for the Mavericks and Stars home).
Later on this weekend we would find out that the Dallas Mavericks would handle their business and defeat the Phoenix Suns to advance to the playoffs for the 13th time in 14 years as a seventh seed and most likely a visit with the Thunder.
In the last decade more miles have been spent traveling to and from the American Airlines Center for NHL hockey. 2003 I saw greatness in added bonus when the Anaheim Ducks and Stars would have themselves an epic battle with Mike Modano still in the prime of his career.
2004-April 12th in fact-there was a game that went to overtime on a steal and subsequent goal by Steve Ott that propelled the Stars to an overtime win over Colorado. It seems that for a while there each playoff run had to go through the Avalanche. I know it wasn’t a fun time in April 2005 when the season ended in April.
2007-Fond memories of a seven game set with the Vancouver Canucks-a team I’ve always respected but love calling ‘Those MotherCanuckers’. They had Roberto Luongo between the pipes and the Sedin brothers. We had Mike Modano and Marty Turco and then some. The goal tending was epic all series long and I recall Modano having bad luck with shot attempts hitting the post. Frustrating.
2008-We felt this was the year! All the stars were aligned and Dave Tippett had all of his ducks in a row. All the way to Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals when those darned Red Wings jumped out to a 3-0 lead in mid-May en route to a trip to the Stanley Cup.
On the heels of a memorable multiple overtime game played in Dallas with the San Jose Sharks on May 4th, a game Dallas won in four overtimes when Brenden Morrow was fed nicely for the game winner. The remaining fans left after midnight happy and excited. I can tell you that the American Airlines Center was electric each night for Dallas Stars hockey.
Equal irony: I was at an FC Dallas game last July 4th when it was announced that the Stars made a slew of trades while everybody else was asleep at the barbecue stand celebrating liberty, freedom, and the family time. Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff embarked on shoring up a team in need of a slight overhaul.
Lindy Ruff referred to himself as an optimist after the loss to Columbus on April 9th.
It wasn’t easy to say goodbye to people like Mike Ribeiro or Steve Ott. However is anyone upset at what we have been witness to since the arrivals of Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley (before the incident), Ryan Garbutt, Shawn Horcoff, and of course Sergei Gonchar.
Youth also in the corner of the Dallas Stars with men like Cody Eakin, Alex Chiasson, and Valeri Nichushkin.
Jim Nill spoke about being accountable and making your actions count on and off the ice. Need I add anything about Captain Jamie Benn with brother Jordie that has not been said already?
Congratulations to the Dallas Stars as they re-enter the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Are their ducks in a row for Anaheim?