The return of Stars’ play-by-play broadcaster Dave Strader put things in perspective Saturday night. It’s been a rough stretch for the Stars of late, seemingly waiting for the shoe to drop on head coach Lindy Ruff or certain players to be moved for future assets while they still hold some value on the trade market.
After 60 games, the Dallas Stars‘ record is an unflattering 23-27-10 and they now find themselves six points behind the last wild card spot in the Western Conference. Only 22 games remain in the team’s regular season, so, realistically, the playoffs are a long shot at best. However, last night it was Strader who lifted everyone’s spirits as he took his familiar position behind the microphone with color commentator Daryl Reaugh.
Strader has been battling cancer since the start of the 2016-17 season. The illness had prevented him from calling any games until Saturday night’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Part of his absence can be attributed to enduring a grueling treatment process as described here by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.
Midway through the first period of Saturday’s game, the Stars showed Strader on the scoreboard and the fans responded to his return with a standing ovation. Meanwhile, in a show of respect, players from both benches stood and gave a stick-tap salute.
As if the stars were aligning, fan favorite Antoine Roussel led the team to a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory with his first career NHL hat-trick. It was also fitting that captain Jamie Benn scored the game-winning goal. After the game, the Stars entered into their bye week and won’t play again until next Friday in a contest at home against the Arizona Coyotes.
The salute at the end was the perfect way to end the day! Thanks for making it happen. @jamiebenn14 https://t.co/dw5DmtrcMt
— Dave Strader (@TheVoiceDS) February 19, 2017
Said Antoine Roussel, after his hat trick performance:
I felt like just seeing him here with his wife and showing up with a big smile on their face… With everything they’ve been through, and it’s really hard for them. Seeing that kind of positivity for us, that’s really huge for us. And this win is really for him. He’s going to be here for four more games, so we’re going to try and keep it going.
Recently Strader’s doctors said returning to work might be the best medicine for him. Strader’s postgame comments affirmed their prognosis. “This is the first time, to be honest with you, that for four hours, I didn’t feel like I was sick at all,” he said.
Dave Strader on NBC Next Weekend
During the first intermission of NBC’s Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins game on Sunday, host Liam McHugh shared the news of Strader’s return to the broadcast booth. Furthering the good news, he also announced Strader would be covering the Stars’ game vs. the Boston Bruins next week for NBC.
The plan is for Strader to call the next four games of the Stars’ homestand and reassess from there. Regardless of how many games he calls the rest of this season, Strader has inspired the Stars organization and fan base.
Welcome back, Dave Strader!