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Bob Sturm Blog: Season Expectations

by Bob Sturm / Dallas Stars

I have been asked a million times what I expect from the Stars this season, which is actually remarkable that people still wonder what I think.

Mike Keane is congratulated by Mike Modano and Brett Hull as he leaves the ice during game seven of the Western Confrence Finals against the Colorado Avalanche.
In 1999, I declared the Stars dead after losing Game 5 at Reunion Arena against Colorado in the Western Conference Finals.  A few days later, the Stars closed McNichols Arena with a Game 6 win over the Avs, and of course, a few days after that was about the greatest night in Stars history

In 2000, I was positive the Stars were going to win Game 6 after losing Games 3 and 4 at home to the Devils.  It would be impossible for the Stars to lose all 3 games at home in the Stanley Cup Finals, right?

In 2003, I felt great once Detroit and Colorado were eliminated, because all the top seeded Stars needed to do was to beat the #7 seed Anaheim Ducks and the #6 seed Minnesota Wild to go back to the Finals…

In 2004, I picked the Stars to beat the Avalanche…

In 2006, I picked the Stars to beat the Avalanche…

And in 2008, determined to stop picking the Stars and being proven wrong, I picked the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks to beat a Sergei Zubov-less Stars team that had rookie defensemen in every direction…

And then the Sharks…

The point here is this:  Despite hitting on a few proper predictions, I am wrong as often as I am right.  And here is a small tip:  So is everyone that makes predictions.  If we were so great at telling the future, we would not be working for a living.

And yet, they keep asking me what I think at the start of the season.

Well, here it goes.  I think the Stars should be very good here.  I am quite impressed at the makeover of the Stars roster in the last 24 months – starting with Doug Armstrong’s job of drafting and the Mike Ribiero trade, the Stars now have a team that hardly resembles the team that looked old and tired in the Spring of 2006 that was bounced by Colorado on Dallas Ice in just 5 games.

From that Game 5 boxscore, here are the names still in the Dallas line-up:  Morrow, Modano, Lehtinen, and Ott up front.  On Defense, Daley, Boucher, Robidas, and Zubov – although Zubov will not be in the lineup in October (I think).  And Turco in goal.  That is it.  8 names have survived. 

Of the rest of the names, 15 of them, the 1 player with a birthday before the year 1980 is none other than Toby Peterson.  He was born in October of 1978, so for the next 2 weeks, we can say that all 15 of the players who have arrived in the last 24 months are under the age of 30 years old.  The core of this team went from Modano, Zubov, Lehtinen, Guerin and Arnott to a core of Morrow, Turco, Richards, Ribiero, and Avery.  Not to suggest that #9, #26, and #56 aren’t still key to this team, but it is to say that they are not asked to be the top 3 players every night any more.

It is a young man’s league, and if your key players are in their mid-30’s, you may end up looking old and tired in the playoffs.  The Stars realized that in the spring of 2006, and while it doesn’t happen overnight, Mr. Armstrong, Mr. Jackson, and Mr. Hull have over-hauled this franchise right into a team in the thick of it all.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that they are in a division with two other heavyweights.  Anaheim and San Jose have tons of talent and much of it is quite young, too.  Anaheim has age and cap issues, but we know they have the resolve to win a Cup, and San Jose is tired of being everyone’s pick to with the Cup, only to be on the golf course by early May. 

This division is everything that the NFC East is to the Cowboys, and for the Stars to win it will take a fabulous effort.  And if they don’t win it, they will have to once again roll through the playoffs without the benefit of home ice.  You say that didn’t hurt last year?  I think it is much easier to tangle with Detroit if you aren’t in a 2-0 hole before you set foot on Dallas ice.

So, what am I saying?  I expect the Stars to be really good.  I expect Brad Richards to be huge, and Mike Ribiero to continue to silence his critics with another year of scoring.  I have no idea what to expect of the Sean Avery show every night, but I anticipate the ride will be an exciting one.  I can’t wait to see James Neal and Fabian Brunnstrom every night, and the young defensemen development shall continue.

The Stars have quality again.  They can take the ice every night knowing they have the horses.  But nothing is certain except that these preseason predictions are certainly silly.

Since I am wrong almost all the time, I will take Detroit to win the Cup.  And San Jose to win the Division. 

I love being wrong and I look forward to my streak continuing....

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