The team is coming off a long playoff run that saw the team make the Conference Finals for the first time in eight years. Everyone wants to return and take another shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup, but there’s a long way to go to April.
“Just because you did well the year before doesn’t mean that you will keep your spot,” said Stars Head Coach Dave Tippett. “The Western Conference is a tough conference there are a lot of good teams out there. Our first step will be to get our team ready at training camp and go into the regular season and earn the right to be a good team. You have to do a lot of work the entire year. That’s the process you have to go through and it’s the same every year. Our young players were able to do what they did last year by taking up new leadership roles and we were able to get to the point we did last year and they are hungry to take us farther. But we also recognize what it took to get there. It’s about going out every night and earning the right to be a successful team.”
Still, the confidence gained from last year’s playoff experience is there and it reminded some of the veterans how great a long run can be.
“It brought back some great memories,” said Mike Modano, who remembers what it was like back in 1998-99 coming off a Conference Finals appearance. “You live for that time of the year and you live for those type of playoff runs and to see the reaction from the fans and the city. You can tell (the fans) really miss playoff hockey as well. It was fun to relive some of those glory days when we had those runs and when we had those runs. It’s making it exciting to play the game and it’s basically why we do what we do.”
The level of excitement to get back to work was evident on the first day of camp, especially from the younger players. Nicklas Grossman, Matt Niskanen and Mark Fistric
all had a look in their eye of anticipation and determination. Veterans like Mike Ribeiro
, Brenden Morrow
and Stephane Robidas
looked focused and ready to go.
“There is a sense of excitement to get back and play when you feel like you have turned that corner with the organization,” said Modano. “The new guys are here and are able to get a camp under their belt. Everyone seems ready to go but it is a long way away to get to where we were last year.”
One player who will probably benefit the most from this year’s camp is Brad Richards. Acquired in late February, Richards had to adjust to a new city, a new team and a new system. He did so very well, but he enters the 2008-09 season with a fresh slate and a relaxed state of mind.
“It feels great. My comfort level is through the roof,” he said. “Last year I got comfortable with my teammates, how the team does things and how the organization does things. I am more excited than I have been for a while. We have a great group here and I believe we can go far.”
Richards also knows a few things about winning a Stanley Cup and what kind of teams can go all the way. He likes what he sees in this year’s Dallas Stars.
“The playoffs last year brought a lot of confidence in the locker room,” Richards said. “We still have that taste of success that we had last year in the playoffs. We have set ourselves up for a good season this year but we realize that we have to take care of a lot of things first. We put our work in now and we can repeat that success.”
Marty Turco is also a believer in this squad. He could taste the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup last spring and he wants it back. Turco makes no mistake about what the goal is for the Stars this season.
“I believe we had what it takes last year,” he said. “We got through two hard series in the first two rounds. We battled hard through the end. We could have won last year, without a doubt, and it is our focus this year.”