Jamie Benn, Mike Modano

Can the Stars return to relevance in Dallas?

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Time will tell if the Dallas Stars nabbed a true difference-maker who was traded too soon in Tyler Seguin. It could very well be that their trade with the Boston Bruins will merely draw even on the ice – Loui Eriksson is a gem, after all – but the move could be just as important for ticket sales.

As great as Jamie Benn and other quality Stars players have been, it’s not a stretch to say that Seguin represents the team’s first true “face of the franchise” since Mike Modano’s heyday.

Combine that splashy move with a green-tinged new look, and it’s possible the Stars turned some heads this summer. The question is: did they turn enough?

An easy start

Much like the Avalanche in Colorado, the Stars came to Dallas with as close to a ready-made contending team as you’ll see in relocated sports franchises.

That helped the Stars hit the ground running fairly quickly (though not as drastically as the instant-success Avs), but the franchise also skipped ahead of the growing pains experienced in markets such as Nashville and Columbus. The Stars even lucked into the fact that they were booming in a lousy era for most Dallas professional sports teams, something they cannot count on with regularity.

Those were blessings early on, although maybe that fast start proved to be a bit of a curse?

Just win

While competing with the mighty Cowboys has never been the point, it’s become clear over the years that Al Davis’ “Just win, baby” mantra works well for the market (and most sports cities in warmer climates, really). It’s easy to forget the struggles of other sports teams in the area, including the booming Texas Rangers.

The Stars have quietly been respectable recently, yet they’ll likely need a playoff run – or maybe even a few deep ones – to really rekindle that connection with locals.

It’s anyone’s guess if they’re really on the right track, but at least they’re trying to make some waves.

More Dallas Stars day at PHT

Defense shows promise

Tyler Seguin is the wildcard

Center of change

Leaning on Lehtonen

Sabres return Guhle to junior

Brendan Guhle
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The Buffalo Sabres have returned defenseman Brendan Guhle to junior, where he’ll play for the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders.

Guhle was the 51st overall pick in the 2015 draft. The 18-year-old had two assists in four preseason games before suffering an injury on a big hit by Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf.

Guhle said Sunday that he was fully recovered from the injury. Hence, the return to Prince Albert.

There are now just five 2015 draft picks left on NHL rosters: Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Noah HanifinMikko Rantanen, and Daniel Sprong.

Animal activists protest Ducks’ Stoner over grizzly bear hunt

Keith Fialcowitz

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center on Monday night to call for the suspension of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada of illegally obtaining a license to shoot a grizzly bear.

While Ducks fans entered the rink for their home opener against Vancouver, about 20 protesters held signs and shouted slogans condemning Stoner. He faces five charges related to the 2013 hunt on British Columbia’s central coast.

“Killing is not a sport! Play a real sport!” the protesters shouted in unison. “Shame on the Ducks!”

Judie Mancuso, the president of Social Compassion in Legislation, compared Stoner to quarterback Michael Vick and Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer, whose killing of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe sparked an international outcry.

“The entire globe is against trophy hunting right now,” Mancuso said. “If most of these hockey fans understood that was the issue, I think most of them would be on our side.”

Wildlife groups and First Nations leaders have been outraged by Stoner’s killing of the bear, named Cheeky. Stoner defended his actions at the time when graphic photos of the kill were publicized, but he hasn’t commented recently.

The protesters were serenaded by chants of Stoner’s name by many fans, while others stopped to look at the signs. Mancuso said her group hopes to raise awareness of Stoner’s legal troubles.

“If people didn’t have outrage with the NFL, Michael Vick would have gotten away with it,” Mancuso said. “The only way that anything is going to happen is if we do this. If there’s not public outcry, nothing is going to happen, so we’ve got to try.”

Stoner grew up on Vancouver Island, but hasn’t lived in the province full-time for several years, which authorities say made him ineligible for the hunting license used to take the bear. He played for the Minnesota Wild at the time of the shooting.

Stoner faces two counts of knowingly making a false statement to obtain a hunting license and one count apiece of hunting without a license, hunting out of season and unlawful possession of dead wildlife. His case is set for Nov. 13 in Vancouver.

The 30-year-old Stoner was in the Ducks’ lineup for their home opener, and he fought Brandon Prust in the opening minutes. Stoner is beginning his sixth full NHL season and his second with Anaheim after signing a four-year, $13 million deal as a free agent before last season.

Related: Ducks d-man Stoner charged with unlawful grizzly bear hunt