Tomorrow is the start of Training Camp. Finally, it’s here.
I don’t think I’ve ever wished more for a season to start than I have for this one. Last season was such a mess, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a new season starting. But now that it’s here, I need it. I need it to clear out last year’s cobwebs.
This is the Nine-Ten* season. Last season is dead and gone. We don’t ever have to mention that one again. We don’t have to wonder what could have been any more. Now we can turn our attention to what this season can be.
Nine-Ten can be the best the Stars have had in a long time, but it could just as easily turn into a circus again. Who knows what Crawford and Huddy are going to be like? Who knows how all the young kids are going to handle the big coaching changes? Or how the veterans are going to handle it, for that matter?
I expect them to try really hard at first, hoping to get a better start than the season we’ve all forgotten about. I just hope that they know what they’re doing. I have a feeling that confidence is going to be a big factor.
If they don’t get a good start, I wonder how Crawford will respond. Will every mistake land a kid in the doghouse? Will he give them a chance to learn? Our three d-kids, Mark Fistric, Matt Niskanen, and Nick Grossman, are all coming off their sophomore year, so they should be past that hump and starting to make names for themselves. They still have a few years before they hit their peak, but it’s not going to help them if they’re afraid to make mistakes.
For all I know, Marc Crawford isn’t like that anymore. He says he’s changed. I have no idea what kind of coach he is on a day-to-day basis. I’ve only seen him behind opposing benches and read unflattering things about him.
I do think that letting the defensemen play to their offensive side could be fun. I think we have the guys to do it–Robidas and Niskanen are great at it. Trevor Daley has been waiting for his chance to show what he can do on his skates. One of my favorite plays of his, all-time, is when he lost the puck in the offensive zone, which sent the opponent on a breakaway toward Turco, then skated all the way back, caught up to the guy, and poked the puck off the guy’s stick himself. That’s what he can do. No matter how deep he is in the offensive zone, he can still get back if he has to.
On the other hand, don’t underrate the need for some stay-at-home types like Fistric and Grossman. I think they’re both already underrated for their skating and puckhandling, but they are the tough guys that we’re going to need. When Fistric is penalty killing, guarding the crease so no puck or player gets by, I don’t worry at all.
Brenden Morrow and Brad Richards could potentially have a great year. If it’s a pattern, then this will be Morrow’s year. He had a serious injury (wrist) in ’06-’07, then carried the whole team to the Western Conference Finals in ’07-’08. Another bad injury last year, so this is the year he should be in charge again.
And poor Brad Richards. He came to town not having lost any games to injury in his whole career and now he’s missed 32 games in a season and a month. Surely he’ll be back to his old Iron Man self this season. Richards is a serious playmaker and with the wingers we have, he could be a huge factor. He had chemistry with just about anybody they gave him, and Loui Eriksson had chemistry with just about anybody he was given to, but the two of them together were great. They could both rack up some points if they’re left together.
Mike Modano should have a good year. I hope he does. I’d like to see him play one more time for USA Hockey in the Olympics. I think it energizes and motivates him and well it should. The Stars benefit from a happy and motivated Mike Modano. He’s still got plenty to give and the Stars should take it.
And Turco. Turco, Turco, Turco. How can you solve a problem like Marty? To be honest, I’m kind of optimistic about Turco. He was atrocious last year. Atrocious! But he almost pulled it out. It was just too late, and he was already spent. He has had bad stretches before and he bounces back well. Once he’s on the bounce back part, he is a great goalie. There is the small worry that he’s getting kind of old, though. At some point he’s not going to bounce back. I’m just hoping this isn’t that point. If he does have a great season, we’ll have to wonder if it was the last one in him, but let’s wait and see what he’s got. We can worry about that later.
Training camp is starting and preseason games will start on Wednesday. Last season the Stars stunk in preseason, and it turned out to be a good indication of what the season was going to be like. So this time, I hope they take it more seriously (and if we win a lot, I hope it’s a good indication of what the season’s going to be like).
I’m going to try to make it out to the weekend practices, but I’ve been sick for what seems like a year so it’s going to be a spur-of-the-moment thing. The chances are probably better next weekend than this one, but we’ll see.
*It’s pronounced nine-ten, not oh nine-oh ten. I don’t like two-thousand ten, either, but it’s better than oh ten. I’ll even accept oh nine-ten although I’ll probably still cringe. Look, I understand it’s going to be an awkward transition to the point where we can say twenty-this and twenty-that, but we just have to fight through it. Don’t say oh ten. Seriously.