Every team needs its superhero.
Someone that will always answer the bell at a moment's notice. Someone that gets it right the first time -- every time.
Someone like Mark Stepneski.
Mark may not wear a costume -- unless you count his incredible collection of Hawaiian shirts -- nor does he have a cape or utility belt. But for many years, Mark has been our unsung hero on the Dallas Stars' digital team.
Our Mr. Reliable.
Whether it's writing a game recap at 2 a.m. following a West Coast tilt, making the hike to Traverse City, Mich. each fall just to tell you, the fan, the story of our prospects or dropping everything on a Sunday afternoon for a breaking news story, Mark has always been there as the watchful eyes and ears for us. He always has the story. The copy is always clean for his editors, no matter the time of day.
As Mark takes the next step in life, retiring from full-time writing on DallasStars.com to enjoy more time with his family, it's our chance to formally reflect. We'll miss him not just for the "Inside Edge" he has contributed to our website and digital team, but for the endless entertainment on Twitter, as well.
Mark has always pulled out all the stops on Twitter -- from being informative to taking on the trolls with a touch of humor.
If a follower takes a funny comment a little too seriously? "Get a sense of humor, chief."
Tweet a capital-letters-laden response? "You need to turn off the all caps, chief."
Try to invade Mark's timeline with some unnecessary snark? "Relax, chief."
With Mark, it's always in good fun. No more so than his Hall-of-Fame-worthy interactions with Stars captain Jamie Benn.
And yes, there have been plenty of them over the years.
Like, who was really first off the ice following morning skate?
The visor debate? They've got that covered:
Jamie reminding Mark he should get some sleep ahead of Opening Night:
… with Mark firing back weeks later:
Exclusive 1-on-1 "interviews" following practice:
And, of course:
From all of us at the Stars to you, Mark: Thank you for everything!
And yes, that deserves an exclamation point.
A sampling of our favorite pieces by Mark Stepneski
To read more, click here to visit Mark's archive.