|photo by Scott McDonald/Hill Country News |
The team bussed down on Sunday and checked in to the Horseshoe Bay Resort, followed by a putting contest that saw a team led by Brenden Morrow
(surprise) take the top prize. The team in involved in several off-ice activities over the next couple of days, mixed in around practices (and even a little golf). The team is practicing at the brand new Cedar Park Center – home of the Texas Stars.
The new building is gorgeous and gives fans a great place to watch pro hockey. The players and coaches are coming away very impressed.
“This is a great building,” said Morrow. “It’s perfect for this area and I would enjoy coming out here every night as a fan, for sure. I think they’ll like it a lot. I think all of us are impressed by this new arena.”
Dallas will take on the Texas Stars in the “Bud Light Battle of the Stars” this Wednesday – an exhibition game at Cedar Park Center that will feature the first-ever appearance for an NHL team in Central Texas.
Now that the Texas Stars are a reality, the advantages of having the top development league within driving distance to Dallas will now come into play.
“It’s great to have the Texas Stars so close to Dallas,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “We’ll be able to see our prospects play more and keep a closer eye on their development, and when we need to call someone up, it will be very convenient and much easier than in the past. Plus we want to continue to grow our great sport in Texas. Cedar Park is an excellent location on all fronts. This is a terrific set-up.”
Rick McLaughlin, who now serves as president of the Texas Stars and GM of Cedar Park Center, is no stranger to selling the sport of hockey in Texas. He was an original member of the Stars management team in 1993 when the team came to Dallas. McLaughlin knows how valuable the Stars brand is and looks forward to growing the sport in the Greater Austin area.
“The Texas Stars organization welcomes the Dallas Stars to Cedar Park Center this week,” said McLaughlin. “We are part of the Dallas Stars family and we are extremely proud to be the AHL affiliate of one of the National Hockey League’s top franchises. This is an exciting time for us as the Texas Stars begin their inaugural season.”
Mike Modano has been in the Stars organization for over 20 years and has seen a lot of players come though. He has enjoyed getting to know the Stars’ current group of youngsters and still enjoys taking them under his wing,
“It’s always fun to watch the growth of young guys and help them learn the NHL game,” he said. “I remember when I was 18 or 19 and the guys that helped me and I hope that I can have the same impact on some of these great young players. They all have bright futures and this is a great place to start – here with the Texas Stars.”
The Stars did not have a primary development affiliate last season, forcing the team to be creative in placing their prospects among many different AHL teams. Having a team under their control will be a big advantage to developing the young talent.
“It’s huge,” said Nieuwendyk. “If you look back to last year we had all of our prospects scattered all across the country and that made it incredibly difficult. When you can have all of your prospects in one place and all of the coaches are on the same page and know what is expected, it makes it a much better situation.”
And in one of the nicest rinks in the AHL. Marty Turco told the media that he wishes he could have played minor hockey in a building like Cedar Park Center.
“This is a great building and a great rink,” said Marty Turco. “I’m honestly a little jealous. I remember when I was in the minors and Dallas was far away. The proximity of Cedar Park to Dallas is very helpful and should be an advantage. We’ve had a good camp so far and there are some really good players that will play here for the Texas Stars this season. It should be a lot of fun for fans to watch.
“This is an exciting way to kick it off. We are excited about being here.”
The Stars will return to Dallas immediately after the exhibition game vs. Texas on Wednesday to prepare for the regular season opener this Saturday vs. Nashville at American Airlines Center (7:00 pm - GET TICKETS