Since the Dallas Stars finished two points out of the playoffs in 2010-11, they have lost Brad Richards, not to mention James Neal in a trade that hasn’t really worked out for them so far. At the same time, Jamie Benn has taken another step towards stardom in 2011-12 while Michael Ryder stepped up and had arguably the best season of his career. Starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen not only proved that his 2010-11 campaign wasn’t a fluke, he has actually improved upon it. And yet, for everything that changed, nothing went differently. The Dallas Stars will once again narrowly miss the playoffs.
“It’s frustrating, disappointing,” Brenden Morrow said. “Kind of a repeat of Groundhog Day of last year. It doesn’t get easier. You always want to win that last one and give our fans the opportunity to see playoff hockey again. They deserve it. Ever since Mr. Gaglardi took over, they’ve been out to support us and root us on. It would have been nice to give them the opportunity to see some playoff hockey.”
Morrow also tweeted, “Don’t have the words to express the frustration/disappointment of another season with no playoffs! Thankyou to everyone for their support.”
If there’s a silver lining for Stars fans it’s that they still have a bright future. Even after losing Richards and Neal, they still have a great offensive core in Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson, and Benn. Their goaltending appears set with Lehtonen and Richard Bachman, and their defense doesn’t look bad either. Most importantly though, they’re near the bottom of the league in terms of the salary cap, so they have the ability to make a big splash in the free agent market or trade for a gifted player that other teams might bulk at due to the size of his contract, much like the Florida Panthers did with Brian Campbell last year. It is certainly within their power to prevent their franchise from turning into a Bill Murray comedy.