Give the Dallas Stars credit for being spunky and resilient and stubbornly fun to watch. But the season's over, right?
To me it ended Saturday in San Jose. Not just with the 5-2 loss to the Sharks, but more so with another major injury. This one to Brad Richards, who broke his left hand while hurrying back from a broken right wrist.
If you heard coach Dave Tippett afterward, he sounded like a defeated man. In 12th place - though only three points out of 8th - in the NHL's Western Conference with 10 games remaining, I'm afraid he's right.
Which really, really sucks. Because this season began with such promise. Remember?
The Stars had momentum from last year's gutsy playoff run that included winning two games from the eventual champion Detroit Red Wings in the West Finals. Add Sean Avery as the will to Dallas' skill and the Stanley Cup was within reach.
But then - you were warned - the kiss o' death.
Injuries to Brenden Morrow and Sergei Zubov and Richards and sloppy seconds and ... screw it, we've been through the list a hundred times. The Avery acquistion was a colossal failure, and the Stars will - ouch - keep paying him $6 million over the next three years.
But in the final analysis, blame this wasted season on injuries. You guys think Tippett and Mike Modano will be back for another try next season?
Or perhaps you still have hope for this one?