O'Callahan: Fans Still Care
By Shamus O'Callahan
As I sift through the newspapers and internet columns on the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Dallas Stars and their first round loss to the Vancouver Canucks, I see several consistent viewpoints. The first is that the Stars played a spirited and competitive seven-game series and that this loss does not feel exactly like the previous two first round losses to the Colorado Avalanche.
I see that point, but that leads me to the second thought. Although the team battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the series, Dallas' first round loss has been deemed unacceptable by the management, the coaches and the players. There was no sugar-coating the loss. Everybody in the Stars organization, when you listen to them, knows that it doesn't matter if you lose in five games or in seven games...a loss is a loss.
However, the scribes also point out that no matter what happens this off-season, the Stars organization knows that they have a starting goaltender and a captain. Marty Turco proved several people wrong and Brenden Morrow confirmed to everybody that he is a great choice for captain. All that being said, there is one more thing that I believe people are missing out on -- the Metroplex still cares about the Dallas Stars.
Let me explain myself a little further. American Airlines Center was packed with fans for Games Three, Four and Six. Although the fans went home disappointed for Games Three and Four, following 2-1 losses, they responded again with the largest crowd to ever see a hockey game at American Airlines Center for Game Six (18,600). That crowd helped Dallas win and force a Game Seven for the first time in franchise history when trailing three games to one.
The crowds were loud, got to the rink early and stayed late for all three games in Dallas. More than anything, it showed how relevant and important the Stars have become in Texas and how the National Hockey League is here to stay in the Southwest.
Too many critics have ripped the NHL, too many people have put down the crowds at American Airlines Center and too many media members have simply said that DFW doesn't care about hockey or the Dallas Stars.
I was impressed with the turnout of the fans in Dallas. Not only did the fans show up in the arena, but they watched on television too. Despite a late local start (8:30 p.m.) for Game Three in Dallas, the game was the highest-rated Stars telecast on FSN Southwest in three years. People follow this team and care passionately about them. Sure, they're upset about the first round loss. What fans wouldn't be? But I'll tell you what: they'll be back next year and the year following that and...well, you catch my drift.
I guess what I'm trying to say with all this is that the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex does still care deeply about the Stars. They do still have passion for a team that is the last local squad to win a championship.
Hockey and the Dallas Stars are here to stay. You can tell by the amount of people playing the sport in the area (approximately 12,000 adults and youth) and you definitely can tell by the support the Stars fans showed again this season.
My guess is that won't ever change, no matter what people say to the contrary.