The Dallas Stars cleared out their lockers yesterday. They long ago vacated our minds.
Once upon a time Stars games were Dallas' see-and-be-scene. The hockey team won. The bold and beautiful watched. Even as recently as two springs ago we were staying up late and digging in hard for Dallas' playoff run to the NHL's Western Conference Finals.
Consecutive seasons missing the playoffs for the first time since arriving in Dallas in 1993. The departures of Mike Modano (who's apparently going to try to buy the team not with Wayne Gretzky but rather ex-president Jim Lites), Marty Turco and likely Jere Lehtinen. Other than Brad Richards and Brenden Morrow, there's no identity.
The Stars are a great franchise and their players are accessible, nice, down to Earth. I want to like hockey again. I want to be moved to like hockey again. But ...
As general manager Joe Nieuwendyk so eloquently put it on Tuesday:
"This is an interesting and difficult time."
Hard to believe the Stars are the last local team to win a championship, because these days - and the imminent departures certainly won't help - they feel like a distant last in the local pecking order: