The past two seasons, the Dallas Stars have ended their seasons a couple of weeks early in disappointing fashion. Overall, though, they have not fielded terrible teams.
New ownership came in last year and that gave a boost to a franchise that had been run into the ground by former owner Tom Hicks.
With the landscape of the team changing drastically over the last 12 months, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about this year’s club.
Last season, head coach Glen Gulutzan took over a franchise with no owner, little ability to spend and a team without a lot of depth.
First-year coaches rarely have smooth transitions. They inherit a roster that was built to play a style that usually isn’t their own.
At times it looked as if Gulutzan had to jam square pegs into round holes when setting his lines. Now that he is in his sophomore season with the Stars, he has a lot of things going for him.
The team, for the most part, is used to his style and expectations. He won’t have to spend a long time trying to get the players up to speed with his philosophy this season.
This season, he also has familiarity with the team and schedules. Adding that level of comfort should make everything run without a hitch that new surroundings may provide early in the season.
Tom Gaglardi seemed like a dream to every Stars fan when he agreed to purchase the team in November 2011. An owner who wanted to keep the team in Dallas, grow the presence of the team in the city and he wouldn’t treat the time like a burden.
After the financial shambles that Hicks left his former franchises (the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars) in, it seemed as if hockey in Dallas was coming to an end.
Luckily, Gaglardi brings a passion and a strong leadership presence to a team that has been missing it for quite some time.
Proof Gaglardi is taking things seriously was when he brought in Bob Gainey for his second go-around with the Stars. Gainey was one of the architects of the 1999 Stanley Cup-winning Dallas Stars.
Gaglardi has proven he will open up his wallet to make sure this team is a contender.
Last year, scoring goals seemed as if it was harder to do than sitting through a five-hour loop of the Expendables 2 trailer.
Joe Nieuwendyk solved that problem by adding depth with the Derek Roy trade and signing free agents like Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney.
Adding those three major players to Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn has most people believing it means that team captain Brenden Morrow will play mostly on the third line.
That puts the Stars in a good position to keep from hitting the scoring droughts they hit last season.
The veteran leadership they will bring will also help develop Benn and Eriksson to their full potential at a faster pace. Jagr will be like adding a coach on the ice, which will be a great benefit to everyone on his line.
Last season, Andrew Raycroft started as Kari Lehtonen’s backup. After Lehtonen missed some time with an injury, it was clear that Raycroft wasn’t the answer in net.
Bachman was called up from the Texas Stars and when Lehtonen came back, Raycroft was sent down to the minors in Bachman’s place.
During the season, Bachman went 8-5-1, but his .911 save percentage and 2.74 goals against were a major improvement over Raycroft’s .898/3.52 line.
Bachman also spent time backing up Jimmy Howard during the IIHF World Championships in Finland. The experience added there will no doubt be beneficial.
Add all of that to Lehtonen coming off of a career season, and it makes for a solid duo between the pipes.
Since the Stars play in a division with Mike Smith and Jonathan Quick, solid goaltending is a must to keep up in the division.