Stars have ‘something to prove’ after Stanley Cup final run

Coach Rick Bowness, captain Jamie Benn and the Dallas Stars were ready to get out of the NHL bubble after two months that ended in the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2000. They now relish the opportunity for better starts and finishes.

“There’s just an air in the locker room right now. All the guys are eager to get going, and we’ve got something to prove. … We left two games on the table there,” centre Jason Dickinson said. “There’s a fire, and that’s the carryover we’re getting instead of in March where we needed to reset going into the bubble.”

The Stars were on a six-game skid when the NHL season was paused in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Their camp last summer before entering the Edmonton playoff bubble set the foundation for their upswing, and Dallas got to Game 6 in the Cup final before a season-ending loss to Tampa Bay, now a division foe.

The Stars didn’t look like a Stanley Cup contender when last season began. They started in October 2019 by winning one of their first eight games.

“We’re kind of treating this shortened training camp like we did in July when we came back. Obviously we want to get off to a better start this year compared to last year,” Benn said. “A totally different experience being stuck in a hotel for 65 days, whatever it was. It was definitely nice getting out of there.”

Dallas has most of the same group back, with Benn (shoulder) and young forward Roope Hintz (fractured ankle, hip) among players who had time to recover after being banged up through the playoff run. All-Star centre Tyler Seguin (hip) and goaltender Ben Bishop (knee) will still be out until at least late March rehabbing from surgery, but the only significant losses in free agency were forward Corey Perry and centre Mattias Janmark.

The 65-year-old Bowness has shed the interim title as head coach, and had an usual off-season after the final game in September.

“We had to get out of that bubble, that had run its course clearly,” Bowness said. “The summer was the summer that never was for us because we played hockey. I hadn’t been home in Canada in November since I was 16 years old, and that’s not yesterday.”


Anton Khudobin had never started a playoff game before going 14-10 with a 2.69 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in the playoffs with Bishop unavailable because of a torn meniscus in his knee. Khudobin signed a $10 million, three-year contract to stay with the Stars, but the Russian goaltender was delayed in his return to Texas because of a backlog trying to get a U.S. visa and missed the start of camp. That provided valuable extra practice time for 22-year-old goalie Jake Oettinger, whose NHL debut was in the playoffs last season.


Bowness wants to keep Hintz and Denis Gurianov, who broke through in the playoffs as a rookie, on the same forward line together. Another unit will likely again include grizzled veterans Alexander Radulov and Joe Pavelski, whose 13 goals in the playoffs were the most in a single post-season for a player over 36. His 61 career playoff goals are the most for an American-born skater.


Miro Heiskanen, only 21 and with 150 regular-season games to his credit, has already established himself as one of the league’s top defencemen. He has been productive on both ends of the ice, and should only get better. Heiskanen made his playoff debut as a 19-year-old rookie, then last summer led the Stars with 26 points (six goals, 20 assists) in 27 playoff games.


Six-time All-Star centre Seguin (torn labrum) was the team’s top scorer during the regular season, but had only two goals in his 26 playoff games. While Perry left for Montreal and Janmark for Chicago, the only significant newcomer was ninth-year NHL defenceman Mark Pysyk from Florida on a $750,000 free-agent deal.


Last season’s Western Conference champions are now part of the NHL’s Central Division. The only teams with the Stars from their same division, or even conference, last season are Chicago and Nashville. The Stars open Jan. 14-15 with games at the Florida Panthers, then go to Tampa for the first two of eight games this year against the Lightning. Dallas also will finish its 56-game schedule with four road games.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Brett Salomons, of Salomons Commercial, and Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, in the CACAC's new temporary home. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s One Day Challenge returns

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre has announced its One Day Challenge is… Continue reading

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

A restaurant manager in Orlando used a sign to secretly ask an 11-year-old boy if he needs help from his family after they were spotted withholding food from him. (Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department)
WATCH: Restaurant manager uses secret note to ‘rescue’ child, says Orlando Police

The manager of an Orlando restaurant is receiving praise from police after… Continue reading

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will cripple struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

VICTORIA — A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Quebec and Ontario, the two provinces hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,… Continue reading

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. A young snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged mountain trail on Vancouver's north shore Thursday has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Snowshoer dies after overnight search on Vancouver-area mountain: RCMP

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A snowshoer who set out alone on a rugged… Continue reading

‘It was joyous:’ Sun returns to some Nunavut communities for first time in weeks

IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier… Continue reading

People take photos through the extensive security surrounding the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, ahead of the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Less pomp, very different circumstances as D.C. prepares to inaugurate Biden, Harris

WASHINGTON — Some pomp. Very different circumstances. Inauguration day is supposed to… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) and Nikolaj Ehlers (27) defend against Jansen Harkins (12) during scrimmage at their NHL training camp practice in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Winnipeg Jets cancel practice due to possible COVID-19 exposure

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have cancelled their practice today due to… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $50 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $50 million jackpot… Continue reading

Most Read