Last Practice Of The ’08 – ’09 Season

 It certainly was bittersweet . I always enjoy going out to practices no matter if I am attempting to collect yet more autographs or not . What I really enjoy about going is , talking with other fans and having the opportunity to talk to the players – even if it is only for a moment or two .
 I told almost every player thank you for doing their best for the team this year . I also had the opportunity to ask a few questions as they went past after I thanked them . I asked Mike Modano if he was going to play for Team USA in the off season . “Probably not” was his response – I cannot blame him especially since Jeff Halpern blew out his knee last year and missed playing NHL hockey until January . I also asked Jere Lehtinen if he was going to play for Team Finland . He said he did not know . I had to tell The Cap’n that my wife and I nearly fell out when his wife interviewed him at the Casino Night . Truly classic – if you missed it , search for it at DallasStars.com . I did actually have an opportunity to talk with Landon Wilson for more than a few moments and I really enjoyed that . We spoke about how he plays and a little about next season . It was really enjoyable . 

I did happen to see several of my fellow bloggers today . I was able to have a few conversations with other fans about being a good fan . I was pleasantly surprised that almost all of the fans I spoke with knew how to be good fans . Only one guy I met today would be a ‘bad’ fan . Come to think of it , I think that I have met maybe three people like that at practices in the three years that I have been going out there . Lots of people may go to games , but I think the true (local) fans go out to their practices . 

 I had hoped that since this was the last practice of the year that there would have been wall-to-wall fans waiting for players before and afterwards . I was happy to see that there were more fans there than usual for a Monday , but not as many as I had hoped for . I wanted Our Stars to know that we all loved them and that we all will miss them .

 Last night my children and my wife made a poster board sign for me to hold up during the practice . It had the Dallas Stars logo on it and simply said “Thank you for being OUR team” . Of course they had signed their names on the sides of it and I had photos of  each child taped to it . I was a good boy and made sure to hold up the sign so that all of the players who skated saw it . 

 The practice itself was interesting . It had a different feel to it than any of the other ones I have been to . It seemed more of a “fun and games” practice than anything else . One of the ‘drills’ was a two players against a goaltender with both nets at the bluelines . The players were split into teams and they were competing to see which team could score first and fastest . Shoot out practice was fun to watch as well . Each player took their turn at either Marty , Stephan or Climie depending on which group they were in . If they managed to beat the goaltender , the other group of players had to race from the boards and back again . If the player did not score , their group had to make the quick skate . There were lots of players who were made fun of and heckled during this drill by their teammates . Much later , Stu was coaching about a half dozen players on how to improve their shooting within a four foot area in front of the goaltender . It was funny because they all tried to beat the goaltender but could not so Stu got into the rotation . Every time he came up , he scored . Classic .

 As far as who skated and who did not , well here comes the laundry list . Stephane Robidas did not skate . Trevor Daley did not skate or even stay long enough to do a workout . Sergei Zubov did not show up (shocking? nah) . Toby Petersen skated before everyone else and looked good in the drills he ran alone . The Cap’n was there , but did not skate . Krys Barch did not skate . I was shocked to see Ivan Vishnevskiy , but he skated and looked surprisingly comfortable despite looking winded at least a third of the time . Brad Richards was there as well , but there is obviously no need to tell you if he skated or not . He is wearing a pretty solid cast (I should have asked if I could sign it) .

 What really shocked me (and I guess it should not have) was that Tippett had all three goaltenders dressed . Matt Climie , Tobias Stephan and Marty Turco all practiced . I really enjoyed being able to see Climie closer up than just on television . Besides , my wife wanted pictures of his mask . 

 As the players started leaving the ice at about ten minutes until noon , I knew it was almost over . I refused to leave the arena (despite being relatively numb-I just never got warm all day) until the last player left the ice . When he got off the ice , I felt as if a little bit of me died . I know the end of the season is not the end of all hockey , but that’s my team. I will miss them this spring and summer . Can you tell I am beginning to miss them already ?

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~ by Adam on April 7, 2009.

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