The shortened 2020-21 NHL season has brought upon many challenges for teams, the Dallas Stars included. From an initial COVID-19 outbreak that delayed the start of their season to a winter storm that swept Texas, the Stars have experienced their fair share of setbacks. Despite it all, they’ve continued to persevere and remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.
COVID-19 Outbreak Delays Stars’ Season
During this season’s training camp, the team had a COVID-19 outbreak where 17 members tested positive. The positive cases forced them to close their facilities for a few days, which pushed back the start of their season. While the regular season officially began on Jan. 13, the Stars’ campaign didn’t begin until Jan. 22.
The Stars only had to reschedule four games as a result of the outbreak. However, it still wasn’t the way the team wanted their season to begin. Fortunately, the players were asymptomatic and recovered well (as far as we know). Despite the initial setback, the Stars were hot out of the gate.
Winter Storm Sweeps Texas
The next major setback the Stars experienced was the winter storm that wreaked havoc in Texas.
The storm left a multitude of Texans without power, including members of the team. While Texas was facing below-freezing temperatures, the Stars encompassed what it means to be a team. Jamie Benn, Esa Lindell, and Tyler Seguin all opened their homes to their teammates who were without electricity. With Texas declared a disaster zone, hockey was rightly put on hold.
The dangerous conditions caused by the storm led to the postponements of four Stars games. The decision to postpone the games was ultimately the right one for the safety of not only the team and staff but for the general public, as well. However, this winter storm and the ensuing postponements were just another obstacle that the Stars would have to overcome.
The postponements led to the league having to alter Dallas’ schedule drastically. Combined with the four games they missed at the very beginning of the season, they now had to make up eight games. To fit in all eight makeup games in a timely manner, the league condensed the Stars’ schedule so much that they haven’t had two off days between games since March 2.
This is obviously problematic in many ways. The most glaring being that the condensed schedule doesn’t even take player safety into account. With hockey being such a fast-paced and physical sport, athletes need those few days in between games to rest and recover. Without those off days, players become more at risk for injuries. This is especially damaging within a team like Dallas, who already has a lineup plagued with injuries.
The Stars’ roster has been peppered with injuries since the early goings of the season. Entering the campaign, they were already without Ben Bishop and Seguin, two of their core players. Since then, they’ve had a countless number of players who have become consistent game-time decisions and others who have been out long-term.
The phrase that Stars fans have grown accustomed to hearing this season is “game-time decision.” The team hasn’t had many injuries that have kept players sidelined long-term. It’s more so the nagging injuries that have affected so many on the roster. Roope Hintz, for example, has been battling a nagging lower-body injury almost all season that has made his availability irregular. However, he isn’t the only one.
There aren’t many Stars players who haven’t found themselves being a game-time decision at least once this season. The team does have some hope on the injury front, with Seguin nearing a return. Seguin, who has been sidelined while recovering from offseason hip surgery, is expected to return to the lineup within the next few games. His return would be huge for the organization and their hunt for the final playoff spot in the Discover Central Division.
Persevering Through it All
Despite the many obstacles this Stars team has faced, they’ve persevered through it all. Just a few weeks ago, it seemed that they wouldn’t even be in the hunt for a playoff spot at this point. However, they’ve found ways to win and are right on the tail of the Nashville Predators, who currently sit fourth. If they continue to play with the resilience they’ve shown over the past three months, there’s no doubt that the Discover Central Division playoff race is going to come down to the wire.
Hi everyone, my name’s Maddie Manfredi! I’ve previously covered the Boston Bruins and I’m excited to start a new chapter covering the Stars! I love writing and sports and I am excited to share my two passions with the world!