While most who have written lately about the Sharks vs. Stars series have focused on the action on the ice, the true story of the Stars success lies off the ice and in the stands and seats.
Dallas’ Playoff run of late has reminded me of a far away time when I was young; the Stars playoff success was as common and Bill Clinton being caught with his pants down. The year, to my knowledge, was 1995. It was Thanksgiving in Dallas and my sister had surprised the family with hockey tickets. I would have had to have been around 8 or 9, which explains why my memory is a little grainy, but what I do remember easily is the pre-game warm ups.
We had fantastic seats in the lower section, but still far enough away from the glass to be able to see the plays develop. That was when I heard the crowd explode in applause for the team being led onto the ice by Mike Modano. I’d already seen hundreds of fans decked out in #9 jerseys. Watching how easily he skated on the ice and the strength of his shot: he instantly became my boyhood idol.
The most impressive thing about that overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks was the Stars fans. Reunion Arena was literally packed to the gills and Stars fans were nuts. Of everything during that game, the crowd was the most important factor. They left a permanent mark on my dreaming of learning to play hockey. To this day, I don’t think there are any fans south of the “Frozen North” (Canada, Minnesota, and Michigan) as diehard as Stars fans. Sometimes fans in Dallas are known to be a little fair weather when it comes to the Cowboys, Rangers, and even the Mavericks. No offence to the Dallas faithful regarding those teams’ fans, but none compare to Stars fan. Stars fans pack out American Airlines Center every night regardless of the time or who is playing the Stars.
My last Stars game attended was this January, as a Christmas gift from my sister (damn, I have a cool sister) and it just so happened the Stars were playing the red hot Red Wings. The game itself was miserable - an embarrassing loss to the rival from Detroit - but Stars fans were still more than proud of their team, and more than proud to talk their team to anyone decked out in red. At times, I worried it seemed things may become violent as alcohol and tempers flared, but there seemed to be a mutual respect. It seemed somehow the most diehard fans of the Red Wings recognized Stars fans as equals.
In the end, as tempers flaired in Game 6 between the San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars, I look for the Stars extra attacker. The crowd played a bigger role than anyone on the ice. Stars fans this year have been called to “Believe”. And they do. They have even made believers of a couple Anaheim Ducks fans, friends of mine, who agree with me that Dallas is one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs.
This article is for all Stars fans. The ones decked out in black. The ones already preparing their game faces for Game 6. The ones prepared to make every Sharks fan that enters AAC go home feeling abused and belittled. The Stars fans prepared to call Joe Thornton a loser and Jeremy Roenick a giant cry baby. Stanley Cup fever is back in Dallas for the first time in several years and Stars fans are ready to taste sterling silver along with their team.
To Sharks Fans: You may have the shark tank, and what a cute name it is. But, American Airlines Center will be hopping tomorrow night and expecting the Stars to finish the series against your sharks. For those of you in Dallas, Stars fans will talk plenty of smack to you. It comes from the ‘99 Cup and expecting another one this year. So don’t take it personally.
To my Sharks readers and fans on Bleacher Report, do not lash out at this article. I appreciate your support and acknowledge your great fandom, but from now until the end of the series, I hate you and you hate me. We agree to disagree. We can agree that the Red Wings will go down either way and the Stanley Cup will remain in the Pacific Division. With that I will leave you, dear readers, with the fact Game 6 will be tomorrow night in Dallas at 8pm central. Go Stars!