No Pressure?

by Kristine

When people are discussing what went wrong with the Stars in 2008-2009, a lot of them will say that they crumbled under the pressure of a highly successful playoff run. A lot of people will say that the expectations put on them by the media at the start of the 08-09 season were just too much.

Thank goodness there’s none of that pesky pressure on the team as they gear up for the 2009-2010 season. Oh, wait…

Pretty much every part of this team and their game has pressure on it. First and foremost, they will be expected to hit the ice with their skates on fire. There has been plenty of criticism based on the slow start they got off to last season. We’re the first to admit that if they had started on a good note, their troubles with injuries wouldn’t have hit nearly as hard. This season, getting a strong start and winning some games immediately is imperative.

Then there’s the team itself; the individual players that compose it. There are plenty of players for whom 09-10 is a contract year, and several of them are Olympic hopefuls. We’ll be putting a post up later featuring a look at who’s who in training camp that goes into more detail on individual expectations, so I won’t delve too deep into it here. Suffice it to say, the outside pressure will be nothing compared to the pressure the players will be putting on themselves.

This is especially true for Captain Brenden Morrow, who will be making his triumphant return from last year’s season-ending torn ACL. He’s going to be focused and ready to motivate his troops. He did his best to lead the team last season, but his on-ice influence is more important than anyone realized. He needs to bring his A-game on the ice and his best leadership skills off it.

I imagine Tom Hicks is also feeling some pressure. He needs to prove that he made the right decision in bringing in Joe Nieuwendyk as the new GM, and Nieuwendyk needs to prove that he made the right decision in firing Dave Tippett in favor of Marc Crawford. The upper management change is the biggest shake-up of the off-season, and nobody is sure what to expect. If the Stars have a great 09-10 campaign, it will be easy to blame 08-09 on the management. If they don’t have such a great season, it could be back to the drawing board for Hicks.

Overall, it would be a mistake to think that there is no pressure on the Dallas Stars this season. It’s of a different kind, certainly. Prior to 08-09, all the expectations placed on the team were media-driven. Now, it’s an internal pressure. The Stars have as much to prove this year as they did last year – if not more. The difference is that this year, they have to prove it to themselves.

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