Preseason Game: Frozen Fury (Dallas Stars @ LA Kings)

Final Score: DAL 6, LA 3

So Las Vegas was fun.
After experiencing the first ever NHL game hosted at the beautiful T-Mobile Arena, I have no doubt that the yet unnamed franchise found itself a nice market.

Thoughts about the game/experience:

This was the first time Caitlynn and I attended a game as the “Away” fans. We were certainly outnumbered in terms of people in LA gear. That being said, I feel us Stars fans made our presence known. We were loud! And we only got louder as the game progressed (that tends to happen when you’re in the lead. Also, alcohol).

All day we had seen a lot of people walking around the Strip in Stars apparel, and even though we were outnumbered, we had a decent showing. I liked the amount of Victory Green we saw.

As far as LA fans go, I didn’t have any issues with them. At least in our section everyone was courteous. There was a rather loud dude behind us that took it upon himself to start a “HEY STARS FANS! YOU SUCK!” chant throughout the game. Which many LA fans took a part in. But by the end he had settled down quite a bit…and honestly it wasn’t that annoying.

The Arena, like I said above, was really nice. My only gripe is that there are not enough exits/entrances. We had to wait quite a bit to get in, and exiting was a bit difficult since everyone was getting funneled into the same exit. Then again, my experience is based on the AAC, where we usually arrive early and stay late, so we end up avoiding most traffic.


We didn’t eat at the game, but there were plenty of options from what we saw walking around. They have a Shakeshack! Plus plenty of options for *ahem* adult beverages (Alcohol. I’m talking about alcohol.)

The Arena is pretty much right on the Strip, so once the game lets out, and beforehand, it’s easy to find some bars and restaurants to pregame or continue the celebration/drink your loss away.

All in all, the game was a ton of fun. It certainly didn’t hurt that the Stars won! I can definitely see ourselves taking a yearly trip to Vegas to catch a game. There has already been some discussion about attending the Vegas Team’s season opener next year…

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Team Profile: St Louis Blues

Personal feelings aside, and the grudge held against them, the St Louis Blues are an admittedly formidable opponent. Physicality and offensive prowess both, the Blues play their game well.

Overview:
Western Conference
Central Division
Established: 1967
Arena: Scottrade Center
AHL Affiliate: Chicago Wolves
Owner: St. Louis Blues Hockey Club
Coach: Ken Hitchcock
Notable Former Players: Al Arbour, Chris Pronger, Brett Hull,
Current Captain: Alex Pietrangelo
Goalies: Jake Allen, Carter Hutton
Notable Current Players: Vladimir Tarasenko, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alexander Steen, Scottie Upshall

Facts:
Though St. Louis had not originally bid for a team, the owners of the Black Hawks at the time wanted to be rid of their arena in St. Louis that had fallen to neglect. The Wirtz family had significant influence over the league and with their persuasion, the chairman Clarence Campbell announced that they wanted a team in St. Louis because there was a sufficient facility to house the team.

The original owner of the team, Sid Salomon III, was well loved by his players. Mostly because he gave them all sorts of gifts, like cars and Florida vacations. In return, his players did their best to play well for him for each game.

The Blues made the playoffs in their first three seasons because the playoff format at the time required an expansion team to appear. They were swept all three times, and then when the playoff format changed and their division suddenly included the Black Hawks and the Red Wings, they under-performed and missed the playoffs several seasons running.

Due to financial troubles after their decline, at one point there were only three people employed by the team before Salomon could find a buyer. One of those three, Emile Francis, served as team president, general manager, and head coach.

In a 1986 Playoff game 6 against the Flames, the Blues scored three goals with 12 minutes to go in the third period to tie the game which they subsequently won in overtime. This game is now dubbed the Monday Night Miracle locally.

Won their only presidents trophy in the 1999-00 season.

The Blues were the only team to make the playoffs in every year of the 90s.

St. Louis Blues v New York Rangers
(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Photo by Chris Lee, clee@post-dispatch.com)

Team Profile: The Arizona Coyotes

Hockey in the desert! I have a lot of respect for the Coyotes. Like the Stars, they deal with the challenges of building a franchise in a super non-traditional hockey market. They are also relatively young, both in terms of franchise and player age. They are under no pressure to be competitive right away, so they have the luxury of taking their time to build a team and franchise that will be great for years to come.

A brief overview:

  • Located in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference
  • Founded in 1971 (as the original Winnipeg Jets)
  • Located in Glendale, AZ
  • Arena: Gila River Arena
  • Owner: IceArizona
  • GM: John Chayka
  • Head Coach: Dave Tippett
  • Captain: Shane Doan
  • Minor League Affiliate: Tucson Roadrunners
  • Stanley Cups: none

So to clarify, this team was originally the Winnipeg Jets. The current Jets are a different franchise altogether. Since this will mostly focus on the Coyotes from 1995 onward, this will be a short profile.

The original Winnipeg Jets were founded as part of the short lived WHA. They eventually became one of 4 teams to be merged into the NHL after the WHA disbanded.

At first they struggled a bit competitively, but eventually they were making the playoffs pretty consistently, although they rarely won series.

In the 1990’s they began to struggle financially due to an increase in players’ salaries that affected Canadian teams the most. Despite a lot of protest by fans, the team was purchased by Phoenix businessmen in 1995 with plans to relocate them to Phoenix. The name Coyotes was determined by a fan contest.

After arriving in Phoenix, the team posted six consecutive .500 or better seasons, making the playoffs in every year but one. The one time they didn’t make the playoffs, in 2000–01, they became the first team to earn 90 points in the season and miss the playoffs.

The team struggled towards the later part of 2006 and onward. Attendance dropped, largely due to the poor conditions of the America West Arena they played in at the time, which wasn’t designed to accommodate a hockey rink. Eventually the franchise was sold to Steve Ellman, a Phoenix area developer, along with Wayne Gretzky.

Gretzky named himself head coach, despite having never coached hockey at any level. The ensuing 2006-2007 season was the worst in franchise history since relocating to Arizona.

2008 marked the beginning of some serious financial issues for the franchise, which led to the NHL having control over the team. The owner eventually put the team into bankruptcy, causing several issues with the NHL as they had been attempting to find bidders for the franchise. After several court proceedings, the NHL bought out the Phoenix Coyotes and assumed all its debts. It worked to find a new owner for the team for several years, as most bids ended up falling through at the last minute.

Finally in 2013, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment were allowed to purchase the franchise, also signing a 15 year lease agreement with the city of Glendale in the process. Had this deal not gone through, the team would have been relocated, Seattle having been the most likely choice.

In 2014 they changed their name to the Arizona Coyotes.

After this most recent season, GM Don Maloney was relieved of his duties. In his place, John Chayka was promoted from within the organization. Promoted at 26 years old, he became the NHL’s youngest GM in history.

Notable Players:

  • Shane Doan (he’s the only active player to have been with the original Winnipeg Jets before relocating).
  • Jeremy Roenick
  • Brett Hull
  • Max Domi
  • Anthony Duclair
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson

With new management and several young stars on the rise, this team, despite having to overcome several hurdles to get to where they are, will be a force to be reckoned with in years to come.

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Post Season Thoughts from Caitlynn

This season. There’s so much to say about this season. I’ll start with the fact that despite not going as far as everyone would have liked in the post-season, the Dallas Stars were not there by accident. Despite all the criticism of their style of play, the goal-tending, the unsustainable offensive, they made it because they deserved to be there.

Let’s take a quick look at some numbers:

Stars were ranked first for goals scored with 265 (Capitals in second with 248… Just a 17 goal difference, no big deal.)

Stars ranked first in assist with 433.

Stars ranked first in empty net goals at 24.

Stars only shut out once in the season. Only team to score in all games but one.

Stars ranked second in power play goals with 58.

Stars ranked third in shots on goal with 2624.

Stars ranked fourth on the powerplay, fifth in shorthanded goals.

I’ll go ahead and stop there, but those are some impressive statistics. So yeah, we didn’t go as far as we could have in the post season, but by God did we earn our spot there. By God did we earn top of the Western Conference, second in the league.

Some of my favorite moments from this season include:

-Niemi being the only goalie to ever post a shutout and record two assist in a game

-Seguin’s hat trick against Boston

-Eaves’ hat trick against Chicago

-Janmark’s first goal in his first game

-Johns first goal

-Jason Dickinson’s first goal in his first game

-Johns knocking James Neal into our bench

-Jordie scoring on the power play, getting two game winners in three games, and his fight against Selleck

-Also when he scored in Minnesota and they compared him to Yukon Cornelius and he posted it on Instagram

-Roussel’s goal against the Wild in the playoffs and his subsequent interview (“It was like a Sidney Crosby goal or something.”)

It was a good season. We lost some, but we won 50. Italia and I grew to pretty genuinely like (sometimes begrudgingly) our seat neighbor who annoyed us before. I look forward to the coming season. We have a bright future ahead of us, and I want to thank them for the season the just played.

It’s bittersweet for the it to end, but I believe in the Dallas Stars. I do.

-Caitlynn

Post Season Thoughts from Italia:

It’s almost a week later, and while I am still sad about how this season ended, I’ve stopped mopping and started seriously anticipating next season. I’m letting myself be comforted by the ridiculous amounts of young talent and potential our team has. I do believe that good things are yet to come for the Dallas Stars. So I am turning my attention forward and to the future, as I encourage all fans to do. Of course, before we do start looking ahead (as if there hasn’t already been a ton of discussion about changing things for next season already), I need to look back on this past season and reflect a tiny bit.

I know this isn’t a new sentiment, but no one expected the Dallas Stars to be as successful as they were this season. Week after week throughout the season, you’d hear the commentary about how their pace wasn’t sustainable, and how they would sooner or later crash. And yet despite all of the negativity, they consistently remained at the top of the standings for the division and conference, and even briefly in the league before the Capitals ran away with the lead. They broke franchise records for that unbelievable start to the season, and despite a scary looking month in January, they were able to keep it up and finish with the Central Division title, in first place of the Western Conference. A lot of the naysayers were quieted by the end of the season (only to reappear after Game 7 with their “I told you so’s”, but I won’t go into that). This team was a contender.

I understand that regular season merits mean very little if you don’t find playoff success. The Washington Capitals are a painful example of this. I understand that years of mediocrity are not easily forgotten after one great season. The Dallas Stars still have a lot to prove. So while I am bitter towards the critics, I understand that there is merit to what they are saying. This season was cut short due to some very real weaknesses and flaws that will hopefully be addressed in the offseason. We got close, just not close enough.

I know we were all left wanting for more, but I am so proud of this team for what they accomplished, and so optimistic for the future. I had so much fun this season, watching them and following along. I am now anxiously counting down the days until I get to see Victory Green out on the ice.

So thank you, Dallas Stars, for a memorable season. Here’s to many more.

-Italia

Oh yeah, we have a blog…

So…obviously we dropped the ball a little. As it turns out, trying to start a blog and figuring things out as you go along is not ideal. So while we’re bitter that the season has ended, this gives us some much-needed time to get things organized and planned out.

We will be posting regularly throughout the summer on various topics, and once the season starts again we will be posting some slightly more polished game recaps.

So stay tuned!

C&I