Seven Days to Faceoff
September 30, 2003
By J. Douglas Foster
Can you believe it?
That's how far away we are from actual hockey season.
Seven long days for those who have been busting their humps through training camp.
"That's great," Stars head coach Dave Tippett said. "I wish it was a day away."
In fact, many of Tippett's players feel the same way. This has been, by most accounts, a more intense training camp than those in the past, opening on Sept. 13 at the Dobson Ice Arena in Vail, Colo. and continuing almost straight through until this point.
In fact, the Stars have had just two days during that stretch of 18 in which they did not get on the ice. One was last Monday, when they participated in the Dallas Stars Foundation Bonnie Blair Golf Classic.
The second was this Monday, a much-needed day off after some heavy skating at this year's camp.
"There has been a lot of skating at this camp," Stars right wing Scott Young said. "A lot more skating that last year. We've basically done some form of sprints, laps, down and backs or some form of those every day. It's been tough, but I think it's been good for us. It's good to build that work ethic and it's also good conditioning."
It also helped the players get back into the swing of things more quickly, helping them to get ready for that Oct. 8 season opener against Anaheim.
Between now and then, however, are two more preseason games - one Thursday against Colorado and another Saturday against Chicago, both to be played at American Airlines Center.
Those games will be critical for a few players, as the current roster of 25 still must be pared down to 23 before opening night. But they will also be key in fine-tuning this team and making final decisions on line pairings before next week's opener.
"These last two games we'll have mostly our real lineup," Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We'll take the last few small things we've been working on in practice and put them into a game situation there."
One thing this camp has had is plenty of strong play from young players - which the veterans are taking as a very positive sign for the organization.
In fact, this year the team has probably seen its strongest youthful push ever, something which is certain to make the unit as a whole stronger.
"It's good to see the depth in the organization," Young said. "I've really been impressed with a few of those guys. They've pushed us hard. I think as much as you need veterans on the team, you also need the young, hungry players who are pushing to make the team, or if they've made the team the ones pushing to establish themselves.
"That always helps the intensity in the room, and that makes everyone better."
The Stars will take part in the Dallas Stars Faceoff Luncheon Wednesday at the Wyndham Anatole in Dallas. For more information or to order tickets, please call 214-387-5526.