Trick or Treat?
Your Dallas Stars are either setting us up for another punch to the gut come April or laying the foundation for the first 82-0 season in NHL history. In the wake of three consecutive post-season meltdowns, we promised we wouldn't seriously consider the Stars again until the playoffs. But this, this is starting off pretty special. The Stars are 5-0 and can tie the best start in franchise history with a win tonight in a very early season showdown against the San Jose Sharks (9:30, Fox Sports Net). Damn it, here I go again, getting sucked in by October hockey.
The usual suspects have the Stars on the verge of their best start since 1996-'97. Mike Modano, one of only four players remaining from that team, is flying around the ice and over the weekend recorded his 700th NHL assist. Goalie Marty Turco, guiltiest of the perpetrators in Dallas' last three playoff flameouts, appears regular-season ready, leading the league in wins, goals-against average and save percentage through two weeks. Don't get carried away, it's waaaay too early to start pronouncing Eric Lindros the Comeback Player of the Year, dissecting third lines or praising coach Dave Tippet's handling of a psychologically fragile team.
One "C"hange, however, can't be ignored: Though his play says otherwise, Modano apparently isn't thrilled being stripped of his team captaincy. This year the "C" on the sweater goes to Brenden Morrow, as if marrying Anne-Marie Carbonneau's hotness wasn't prize enough. Early returns say the management's move is pure genius. Modano is playing relaxed, better hockey. And Morrow immediately earned respect by taking his teammates to play paintball last week in Dallas, a move that is either the worst, most desperate strategy since Mo' showed his squad Candle Room or a tone-setting, bonding experience that will pave the way for the Stanley Cup. Check back with us in April. --Richie Whitt