Now that the season is really over, and I’ve had some time to process, I can look back at the season without the bitter taste of “So close, but no Cup” in my mouth. So, here it is – a personal recap of the 2007-2008 Dallas Stars season, starting with September and October.
Yeah, for me, hockey starts in September. It all starts with the Icebreaker. I headed to the Galleria with Caitlin, and we stood in long lines to meet Jeff Halpern, Joel Lundqvist, Mike Smith, Loui Eriksson, Philippe Boucher, Krys Barch, Nicklas Grossman, and Mike Ribeiro. Of course we didn’t meet the big name players – Brenden Morrow, Mike Modano, Marty Turco – we don’t have the kind of patience to wait in those lines, and at that point in the season, it was quantity over quality. I remember positively flipping my shit over meeting Mike Smith (I couldn’t hold a lighter to light a cigarette afterwards), and laughing with Caitlin about how Krys Barch treated us like old friends meeting at a bar (“How was your summer? Mine was awesome! I have an awesome kid!”). I remember Caitlin being kind enough to take pictures of me with hockey players. Mostly, I remember the excitement I had over the beginning of a new season, maybe even one where we could get out of the first round.
Then came training camp. I met Brett Hull in the hallway, and stuttered out “Oh my God, you totally won the Stanley Cup.” I don’t remember if he said it, but wouldn’t it have been awesome if he replied with “Yeah. Twice!”? Of course, I choose to forget that period of time when he played for the Wings, so I would have been like “No. You won it once.” I scored free tickets to two preseason games. I watched a bunch of kids I didn’t know play hockey against guys like Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov. I was rooting for them. I met Mark Fistric that day, and I had no idea how awesome he would become, and how insanely helpful he would be on the blueline later in the season. I was surrounded by a bunch of people who were just as excited as I was that hockey was soon returning.
Caitlin and I went to the jersey unveiling, and laughed at Razor dressed as “Razoire”. We hung our heads in shame at the new home jerseys, and stared at the catwalk horrified as players modeled. Those boys need Miss Jay and Tyra, stat.
Preseason games, of course, are a lot of fun. I ended up going to all of the home games, including one on my dad’s birthday (also on my dad’s birthday, I got my Stars tattoo). Unfortunately, my dad doesn’t love hockey, but he also doesn’t love his birthday, so it didn’t matter that I spent that night rooting for the Stars, even though the game meant nothing in the grand scheme of things.
What really sucks about opening day is that fifteen teams are going to lose – no question of it. Sadly, the Stars were one of them, losing 4-3 to the Colorado Avalanche. Two nights later, at the home opener (home openers are always fun, they have fire and lights and fanciness), however, they defeated the not-often-seen-in-the-Western-Conference-thanks-NHL-scheduling Boston Bruins, 4-1.
The Stars got a swanky new plane. Jeff Halpern injured Mike Smith in practice (don’t think I haven’t forgotten, Halpie), and Marty Turco continued to prove that he loves to work with kids about reading. An article dated October 7 says that Robidas was looking to deliver more offense (I’d say he succeeded, finishing the regular season with 9 goals). Brenden Morrow really began to take to his role as captain, constantly leading by example. Matt Niskanen scored his first NHL goal on October 29 against San Jose – I remember because I was there, screaming very, very loudly.
The thing I remember most about October? That stupid points record for Mike Modano. It’s not stupid, but at the time, I kind of thought that maybe all the pressure on the poor guy to break the damn record already was getting to him. On Halloween, he was credited with an assist on a Sergei Zubov goal, and we all cheered for him, thinking he had tied Phil Housley’s record. He wouldn’t stand up and acknowledge the applause, which I thought suspicious, and when I watched the play later, I noticed that he didn’t touch the puck. That Halloween game, incidentally, was in the middle of a three game homestand during which the Stars lost all three games in regulation, which hadn’t happened since 2003. It was looking bleak.
Of course we all know how it all ended, but I like ending on a note of suspense.