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Click here for the story. Straight from Joe’s mouth.

I'll miss you, Marty.

Words can’t describe how upset I am about this. And, yes, I know it was expected….I just hoped I could hold on to my delusions at least until June. I promise I’ll do his official leaving justice, but right now, I’m just not ready.

Check out what Marty and Brenden have said: (from Heika’s blog)

“It’s pretty tough to talk about, really. There are so many people who I have known for so long here, Mike (Modano), Jere (Lehtinen), Stephane (Robidas), Otter (Steve Ott), my boy (Brenden Morrow), and not just the players but the other guys like the training staff. They do so much for you, especially a goalie. There are so many people who directly affect your career and your life, and I have been with this group for my entire career. That’s one that if you move, you know you are going to miss those guys.”

On how his home office looks with Stars memorabilia:

“For being a maize and blue guy (University of Michigan), I’ve got a lot of green and gold in my house,” he said. “I never would have thought when I was drafted it would have lasted this long or meant this much, but it has. To each their own, but my whole perspective of hockey is to entrench myself deeply in the team and put myself in other’s shoes as much as possible. The idea of winning to me is being a team and being a family, and the closer you are the better. And even though my job description is stopping pucks, it’s just meant so much more to me to do other things, maybe to a fault sometime. It is my style to totally immerse myself in what I do. To say I just played eight seasons for the Dallas Stars, that only scratches the surface of how I feel about this time in my life and what they have meant to me.”

Stars captain Brenden Morrow said he will definitely miss Turco.

“He’s my best friend and my neighbor and we’ve known each other really since we’ve been here, so it will be tough,” Morrow said. “But we’re professionals and we’ll move on. We understand it’s a job, but sometimes that job is tough.”

I’ll miss you, Marty. More than words can say. You’re always going to be “my favorite player in the whole world.” Yes, Marty, the whole world.

Sarah

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Starsick

I can’t believe the season is over. It seems way too soon to say goodbye to all of our players. I’m still kind of emotional from the game on Thursday, and watching the videos over and over isn’t helping either. Neither is having a picture of Mikey on the jumbotron as my desktop background.

Going to the game on Thursday was such a great decision. I was so happy to see Mikey and all the guys [possibly] one last time. I also got to spend some quality time with Trey, my favorite usher [who’s also leaving… THIS SUCKS :(], Myra and her family, and the amazing Fanatics.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m not excited for the playoffs to start. I don’t really care who wins (as long as it’s not San Jose or Pittsburgh) and I’m not even in the mood to watch other teams play hockey.

It feels like yesterday I was at the first day of training camp. The team looked so focused and I thought they might actually make a run for it this year. I can’t believe Jamie Benn has already completed his rookie year – hopefully I’ll make a post soon about that because I am so proud of everything he accomplished this season. And even more proud that I bought his first jersey and mine was the first jersey of his that he signed!

I have a feeling this will be a long and weird offseason. When training camp starts, who will own the team? Who will still be here, and who will have moved on to other teams?

I’m not sure what next year will bring, but I’m sure I’ll be excited for it soon since it’ll be the first year I have season tickets. I can’t wait to be a part of the Fanatics every game of the season!

Amy

End of an Era?

As we approach the end of the 2009-10 season, the Stars should be filled with much more regret than optimism.

3 years ago, I said the Stars would win the Cup in the 2009-10 season. What could be sweeter than winning the league championship in the last year of Mike Modano’s, Jere Lehtinen’s, and Marty Turco’s contracts? How nice would it have been for players like Modano and Lehtinen to go out with a bang and win the Cup in their last year?

That can’t be what happens this season because the Stars were eliminated from the playoffs when Colorado won their game Sunday night. In a way, I was relieved that the Stars were finally mathematically eliminated because I was tired of holding out that .02% chance that they would make the playoffs (by the way, thanks stat dudes for keeping the hope alive!), but I was still disappointed that my favorite team failed to make the postseason for the second year in a row.

The problem with the end of this season is that this is the end of an era in Dallas. At the end of 2008-09, it was disappointing that the Stars didn’t make the playoffs, but there were excuses due to injury, poor management, a coach who couldn’t control the team. Changes needed to be made.

But changes were made and that didn’t help. A new coach, a new manager, a few new players… still the same result. The Stars didn’t get what they needed in the offseason for budget reasons. Even now, the Stars are spending money signing Ott and Petersen to deals. Don’t get me wrong, I like Petersen as a person and wish him the best, but honestly, he’s not going to be an integral part of a future Cup-winning team. He’s a role player who’s good in the locker room, and I’m sure the Stars could call up a similar player from Cedar Park and pay him less money. Otter is a fan favorite, and the team would be different without him, but I don’t see the justification in paying $3 million a season for a guy who scores about 20 goals and takes a whole lot of penalties.

We’re still not in the playoffs, but feelings will be different when the Stars skate off the ice Saturday night against Minnesota. There aren’t the same injury excuses. Yes, this team isn’t good enough to win it all, but they’re not bad enough to go the whole season without stringing together a 3-game winning streak. Edmonton managed to have a 5-game winning streak and Toronto had two 3-game winning streaks. These teams barely made it to double digits in wins, but they can manage to be consistent enough to win a few games in a row.

The Stars have lost so many players from the 2008 playoff run, and there hasn’t been anyone to take their places. We lost Zubov, Norstrom, and Boucher. Niskanen, Grossman, Daley, and Fistric haven’t been able to fill those holes. Fistric has shown promise this season now that Tippett is no longer there to send him down to the AHL. Grossman has shown some signs of development, but he’s not as far along as I’d hoped, and he’s nowhere near the caliber of Norstrom in front of the net in the WCF against Detroit in a 6 on 4. Niskanen has been a developmental failure, and maybe it’s time to give up on him in a trade. Daley needs to go away. The announcers have said that he’s been “developing” for the last 6 years, and I haven’t seen any signs of progress. He’s as good as he’s ever going to be, and it’s nowhere near good enough to be worth something to the team in the long run.

These were your defensive pairs in the 1999 playoffs:
Hatcher – Matvichuk (both in their prime)
Zubov – Sydor (in their glory days)
Ludwig – Chambers (two stalwarts that were maybe the best “third” pair of defensemen ever)

I don’t see any of the Stars current defensemen breaking into this lineup, with the exception of Robidas. His heart allows him to play way beyond his capabilities, and he’d make a wonderful third pair defenseman who saw some time on the power play but wasn’t forced to play 25:00+ a game. If you’ve seen the Stars play, you know how hard he plays the game and you know he’s too small to play that way effectively 82 games a year.

That’s just the defensemen. The forwards we lost, including Hagman, Halpern, and Barnes, created holes. While the Stars haven’t replaced them with similar players, the play of young James Neal and Jamie Benn shows that the Stars have hope on the offensive end of things.

Overall, the Stars aren’t even as good as they were in 2008, and that wasn’t even one of their best years talent-wise.

And they are about to lose a lot more. Pieces that can’t be replaced, especially since the Stars have been unable to replace pieces lost in 2008.

One of the pieces will probably move on to another team:

Marty Turco: He hasn’t played well since the 2008 playoffs, but he’s been an integral part of the team. The first time I remember hearing him mentioned was when I saw footage of some crazy young goalie flopping around in the crease during practice in the 1999 playoffs to emulate Hasek and his odd style of playing the game. I can’t do justice to Marty leaving; maybe Sarah will conquer that task some day when she’s ready.

He never won a Cup for the team, and until 2007 and 2008 he was questionable at best in the playoffs. But that’s not to say he didn’t have a wonderful career in Dallas. While I can think of so many goals given up on first shots or from the faceoff dots, I can think of just as many ridiculous saves that never should have stayed out of the net. When I think of Marty, I think of his performance in the 2 playoff games I attended in 2008: Game 6 against San Jose and Game 4 against Detroit. He played out of his mind. He kept the Stars in the San Jose game long enough for Brenden to get the the series-winning goal at 1:24 am.

Off the ice, he is possibly the greatest human (term borrowed from Razor) to ever play for the Stars. His work with Stick with Reading/Writing, his visits to children’s hospitals, the M Club at every Stars home game… Marty has given so much back to countless individuals and families in the city of Dallas. There’s a reason why he’s nominated for so many humanitarian awards every year.

While we may get a new goalie or test the waters with Lehtonen as starter, Marty was a fan favorite and I know it will take everyone time to get used to seeing someone else in the pipes.

Jere Lehtinen: As Ralph so eloquently said in his article about Lehtinen, he played his whole career with very little recognition. Yes, he won 3 Selke trophies, but he deserved to win so many more. He is +177 in his career, and this season will be the only season he finishes with a – rating.

Since, like everyone else, I don’t know much about Lehtinen, I don’t have a lot to say about him. So here is my favorite Lehtinen memory: If you’ve gotten your picture taken with him at practice, you’ve probably noticed that he seems standoffish and rarely smiles for pictures. I’m sure he’s not mean or grouchy, that’s simply the way he is. He probably doesn’t understand why people care so much about him. In one of the pictures I have with him, he’s looking the other way, and it looks like I took an awkward picture with someone at a party who wasn’t even aware he was in the picture. But at this practice, in March of 2008, Sarah and I found a way to make him smile. We showed him both our “We ❤ our Finns” sign and the “Leht’s Go” sign. He autographed them, smiling, and said our signs were “pretty cool”. This is the picture we got with him directly after:

A smile; success!

I’ll always remember his ugly yellow skate laces and the way he always seemed to make lines better. He’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve become such a Finn fan and have a Finnish flag hanging on the wall in my bedroom. He scored the crazy 1st goal of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999. I still don’t know how that puck managed to go into the net.

He’s been talked about more in the past couple seasons due to his injury problems, and I miss the days when he plugged along without gaining any media coverage.

Mike Modano: I don’t think I have words for this one. If this is his final season, there will be hundreds of articles written about his career and how important he was to the Dallas Stars and American hockey. I can’t write something to rival what they will write, so I’ll leave that to them. We all know he holds every valuable stat possible for the Dallas Stars, and that he’s the greatest American-born player in history.

Mikey was the first player I noticed at my first game in March of 1997. I was 8 years old the first time I saw him play. I remember grabbing the program from my mom to check the rosters to see who this #9 was in white who zoomed up and down the ice. He was the only one whose jersey actually flapped as he skated. Even though players now may be faster than he is, you don’t see that with anyone else.

As soon as I figured out who he was, my goal was to get a Mike Modano jersey. And on opening night of the 1998-99 season, I got my white authentic Modano jersey. It is still my favorite jersey – I’ve added a Cup Finals patch and it’s signed only by Mikey and Bob Gainey. The logo on the front is still wider than I am, I can’t imagine how it looked on me when I was 10. The first pictures I have with Mikey are from the days before digital cameras. I’ll have to find the originals so I can scan them into my computer.

I can’t imagine a Stars team without Mike Modano. He’s taken a reduced role in the last several years, and I’m sure there are many Stars fans/bloggers who appreciate what Mikey means to the team but really have no idea. They didn’t see him get an assist on the last 8 goals in the 1999 Finals. With a broken wrist. Maybe they saw Mikey break the American-born scoring records, but they didn’t see all of his goals from Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen, and Brett Hull in the 90s.

I wish I could have seen him before Hitchcock came to Dallas and changed his game. Mikey was a much better player after learning some defensive responsibility, but I still wish I could have seen him skate through 4 or 5 guys by himself to get the puck in the net.

I have this great picture of Mikey and Brett Hull at the Cup parade in downtown Dallas. He and Hull are both leaning on a metal pole sticking out of their float. Neither of them could hold themselves up through the whole parade after the injuries they sustained in the playoffs. They both have huge smiles on their faces.

I just can’t write anything else about him until I hear for sure about his decision. Although, his actions and what he’s said in interviews make me think that this is the end for him.

The other two players won’t be so easily replaced. They are the only two members of the 1999 Cup Championship team. They are the only two team members who were playing in March 1997 when I went to my first Stars game. I know Modano’s number will be retired as soon as he hangs up his skates, and I hope Lehtinen will get the same treatment.

I’ll be making the drive up to Dallas from San Antonio Thursday for the final home game of the season. I don’t know how many Stars I’ll be seeing the last of, but I want to be sure to see them all before they leave. Feel free to come say hi and share some Stars memories with me. Or to give me a hug, because I’ll probably need it.

Amy

It’s Benn a While!

Hope you enjoy the pun in the title 🙂 Pics of the not-so-new Jamie Benn jersey will be coming eventually, probably from the next game I go to.

Begin stream of consciousness from the last month or so…

School has completely taken over my life (and I imagine vet school has taken over Sarah’s), so my limited free time has been spent actually watching hockey or spending time with friends. Proud to report that I have a new hockey convert. I took one of my friends to the Baby Stars vs. Rampage game a few weeks ago, and he had a great time. The $1 beers probably didn’t hurt his impressions. I’ll be taking him and another friend (also a hockey virgin) to the Baby Stars vs. Rampage game this weekend. They are both looking forward to it 🙂

I’ve been kind of disappointed with the Stars so far this season. I know they’re doing relatively well with points, but I just don’t see the effort or talent that I expect to see from the Stars. The effort hasn’t been happening every night with the top guys, the effort and talent are lacking throughout the defense corps (with the exception of our top pair and Skrastins), and Marty is either lacking effort or talent. I would say effort, but now I’m starting to think that his play has taken a permanent downturn. I think Crawford is a better coach than Tippett because I actually see his mouth moving during the game as he talks to players. I’m sure this was surprising to players who have played all or most of their career under Tippett. Tippett seems to be doing pretty well in Phoenix, but I think Phoenix is a team that can really benefit from having a coach who is good with plays, teaching the game, etc. The Stars needed someone to kick them into gear, and Tippett failed miserably at that.

I hated seeing Niklas Hagman in a Toronto jersey at the end of October in Dallas. I actually teared up a couple times they showed him skating around. I’m sure it will be equally as bad to see Smitty and Jeffy at the Nov. 28th game. I’m glad these guys went to the East where we don’t see them as often.

Ken Hitchcock coached his 1000th game last night against Detroit, and the Red Wings dominated 9-1. It’s sad that his 1st and 1000th games were bad losses to Detroit, but good that he’s had so many good wins in the middle. I still miss him in Dallas, and always look forward to seeing the Blue Jackets come to town. It’s good to see Hitch again, and seeing Rick Nash is something every hockey fan should experience.

The Stars play San Jose late tonight (9:30 pm start), and I’m looking forward to watching the game since I’ve been going all week for school. The Stars should try starting their games at 9:30 – maybe more fans would show up before the 2nd period. I know that’s been a long-standing problem in Dallas, but it’s pretty pathetic that the Stars attendance in the first period looks incredibly similar to the arenas of Phoenix and Colorado (averaging <10,000 a night).

We have a lot of Stars games planned in the next 2 months. The Nov. 21st game is on my boyfriend’s birthday, so we will be going to hopefully see the Stars kick some Devil butt. Then the whole gang is going for the Nov. 28th game against Tampa. Look for new signs and the split-up Sign Girls at the pregame skate. Next will be Columbus on Dec. 23rd. Sarah and I have an amazing hockey vacation planned in late December, and we’ll be going to the Dec. 29th, 31st, and Jan 2nd games. Talk about a nice break from school! I’m going to get spoiled by all of this hockey!

Stream of consciousness ends here… (meaning I have to actually do some work)

Amy

Heika reports that the Stars have called up Perttu Lindgren from Austin today to fill a spot with the absences of Modano, Hull, and Lehtinen (will he play another game?)

This is SUPER exciting for me because the Finns are my favorites, and it’s been lonely with only Lehtinen. Plus, Lehts has been injured so there have been nights where the Stars have skated no Finns! 😦 It’s a tragedy, indeed.

I’m kinda peeved they didn’t do this before the Boston game because I would have loved to see him. And I hope some of our guys will be back soon so Lindgren will be with Austin when I go see them at the end of the month 🙂

I told him that Finns were the best and he said Oh.... cool. Maybe he didnt realize I was talking about him?

I told him that Finns were the best and he said "Oh.... cool." Maybe he didn't realize I was talking about him?

Amy

Hi all,

So far I’m really enjoying the first 5 minutes of the Stars/Trashville game. Maybe this one won’t lead to a shootout loss for the Stars.

I just wanted to give a heads up that I’ll be at the game Friday night against the Bruins. Sarah is busy with school and can’t make it down to Dallas in time so it’ll just be 1 of 2 Sign Girls. My mom will be an honorary Sign Girl and help with the signs during the pregame skate. If you see me walking around, feel free to say hi. I’d love to see more of the people who read the blog 🙂

I dont think youll miss me walking around...

I don't think you'll miss me walking around...

I won’t be wearing the white jersey though because I plan on getting a JAMIE BENN JERSEY as soon as the pregame skate is over! I hope to be the first one to get a Jamie Benn jersey… so if you’ve seen one walking around, don’t let me know about it!

I’m gonna go watch the game, my Brenden has scored again! I can’t describe how nice it is to see his smiling face on the ice this season.

Amy

The Sign Girls have officially launched a new aspect of our blog: THE SHOP!

Now you can show the world just how spiffy you think we are! There’s only a few products as of now, but there soon will be many more, so check the shop frequently for new items and designs!

Spiffy Sign Girls apparel awaits you!

Spiffy Sign Girls apparel awaits you!

 

Sarah