Players come and players go, but some - the rare ones - connect.
They connect with the most valuable area of any professional sports organization - the fans.
Steve Ott made that connection like a magnet to metal.
As a Dallas Star he was the epitome of that player 'you hate if he's on the opposing team, love if he's on yours'. I couldn't count on a gargantuan abacus the number of times he 'woke up' one of those god-awful late January games or invigorated a stolid atmosphere at a mid-week home game with his style of play.
And when the games were of the rivalry variety he was usually at his competitive, nasty, impactful, irritating best. Just pull any or all tilts vs the San Jose Sharks for examples. If Sharks can do cartwheels, they are doing them today.
On the ice for the Stars he was excellent at getting opposing players to focus on him instead of their own jobs, able to bridge the gap between instigator and skill player, and in recent years has been a go-to face-off guy and a core penalty killer. But he was also a bit miscast as a top-six forward here recently. He doesn't have that abundance of natural offensive ability that a top-six guy should have and his propensity to find himself in the penalty box tends to detonate the line he's on. I like him in a third-line role and I bet that's where he slots in with the Sabres. Just hope the body can hold up, cause his style of play is hard on it.
Off the ice he was one of the more community-involved Stars during the club's 20 years in Big D. Always quick to donate his time, he was the Stars Stick with Reading Spokesman - taking the torch from Marty Turco - and he gleefully took time to greet each home game's Stick Kid at the end of the pre-game skate.
With the media he was a notebook filler and a microphone lover -- unless your last name is Edwards.
With Stars fans he was charming and approachable. They are going to miss that side of him, as well as Ott's 20 minutes of on-ice mayhem and the accompanying evil cherub demeanor. I think he fed off them as much as they fed off him and his full-bore, at times almost cartoonish style of play.
All of those stuffed toy Otters you'd see at games will now be relegated to a shelf somewhere, he's off to Buffalo, where he'll surely become an instant hit as he hits, goads, verbally assaults, and competes hard against the Eastern Conference. He's no doubt thinking, "fresh meat." Remember, this is the guy who learned to chirp players in about 5 different languages as preparation for The World Junior Championships.
And so Stars fans, my advice to you: Go ahead and use your 'Ott words' -- both as a coping mechanism and for old times sake -- and then try to move on.