Ah, Dallas. Longtime home to some of professional sports' biggest douchebags: Michael Irvin, Ed Belfour, George W. Bush. A city that has shamelessly associated itself with both Terrell Owens and Sean Avery this autumn.
So perhaps we should not be shocked to see both the Stars and Cowboys imploding before we've even finished off the crappy hard candy that old folks give out on Halloween. Verily, the prideful shall be smited.
As they say, everything's bigger in Texas. Hats are bigger. Breast implants are bigger. And pro-sports meltdowns are a LOT bigger.
Case in point: the Dallas Stars are on the verge of a trainwreck not seen since the Great Senators Implosion of Aught-Seven. We knew something was awry when the Stars, fresh off a semi-finals appearance and stocked with new talent, muddled through a 1-5-1 preseason. Serious injuries to Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen added a little fuel to that suspicion. But our spider-sense really started tingling when they dropped decisions to the likes of Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis and Colorado in the first 8 days of the regular season.
Until this week, it seemed that the Stars might be suffering from some early-season hiccups, the sort of thing that works itself out after a few tough bonding experiences on the road. Boy, were we ever wrong.
After getting steamrolled in Chicago, Avery & Co. arrived in Boston Saturday evening with all the composure of Bob Probert after a long night Vegas. Throughout the game, hardly 10 minutes of play would pass in between pugilistic sideshows, most of which precipitated from dangerous hits by Avery and henchman Steve Ott. What began as a decent contest quickly became a rout, as the Bruins reponded first physically and then with a 3-goal outburst in the final period as the Stars simply fell apart in all areas of the game.
All that is bad enough for Dallas fans, but it's what came next that really stings. First, franchise player and assistant captain Mike Modano on the team's style of play:
Tonight, it was idiotic and stupid. It was one of the most embarrassing things I've
seen. If that's what we're going for, then they need to find me an office job.
It was dumb penalties, dumb situations, that's kind of been the trend all season. There's no mental toughness. We're allowing the refs to get involved in the game with and spending more energy on them than the details of winning the game.
Then, goalie Marty Turco offers this evaluation, moments after ripping his teammates for poor defensive play (and naming names in the process, always a popular move from a guy who is near the bottom of the league in every measure of his game):
You come into a tough game and a tough building, after a night like last night, think it's all going to come out of us, get some guys out of our shell, total opposite. It's sad, it's embarrassing. There's no sugarcoating anything anymore. We're in a rut that I haven't seen in a long time. It' going to not just be a couple days that are going to get us through it.
Naturally, GM Brett Hull chips in:
I've lost my patience. These players either need to kick themselves in the ass, or they need someone else to do it for them, but it's going to happen.
Finally, coach Dave Tippett gives us a little preview of things to come:
This week, with the long break, there’s going to be lots of evaluation going on. You can take that however you want.
These are not the words of a team that is prepared to bounce back from a sub-.500 start. They are not the words of a team prepared to go into both Anaheim and San Jose for grudge-match divisional games later this week. And they certainly aren't what you expect to hear from a team that will finish the season without a major shakeup.
Put 'em in your death pool, folks; things are about to get ugly in Dallas. Teams stocked with douchebags like Avery, Ribeiro and Modano (and for that matter, managed by Brett Hull) will only stand for so much strain in the locker room. The only question is whether this team will make it to the New Year before the bottom falls out and Avery starts granting interviews while doing sit-ups in his driveway. In any case, it's now a matter of damage control as the Stars have clearly lost their sense of chemistry and frankly don't seem to like each other on a personal level. This isn't just a recipe for a bad season, it's a blueprint for becoming a long-term "rebuilding" project almost overnight.
And it couldn't happen to a better bunch of guys.