Going out Stars-style

There is no question the season, for a Dallas Stars hockey loyalist, has been disappointing; and, further, that perhaps all three bulwarks of the franchise were playing their final home game tonight. But for one night, everything was as it should be, again: Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano set up the team's first goal, Modano scored the second with barely a minute left to send the game to overtime--then in the shootout Lehtinen and Modano both scored again, and Marty Turco stoned the opposing shooters to make the perfect ending stand up, for an electric victory.

I want them all back. There is no question Modano still has it, and makes everyone around him better, and what a helluva fourth line center he could still be; the talk certainly seems to be that he is leaning to retiring, and the argument can be made that the Stars are ready to run Richards, Rebeiro and some combination of Ott/Benn/Wandell down the middle without him; I counter that Modano, returning at the level he is still playing, allows some of those centers to stay on the ice as wings, and the front line becomes even more formidable. Bottom line, he is still greatness and if he wants to play one more, I will be heartily cheering. Lehtinen has had difficulty staying healthy and there have been games where he has looked spent...but those who know far more than I say his mastery of all the little, inobvious, intangible things is second to none, and that if he could be had at a bargain, he will be welcomed back. If he can contribute consistently like he contributed tonight, that would be grand. Marty is likeliest to be gone simply because the Stars, having signed their future goalkeep, will not give him a starting keeper's salary--wouldn't even if they somehow remedy their grotesquely-handicapping ownership situation in the off-season--but...if it happens that he isn't offered giant money elsewhere, one hopes the Stars have kept the relationship open enough that if he is forced to consider a lesser contract, he would welcome the one that keeps him home. I do not expect that to happen: someone is going to realize Marty's biggest problems this season were Dallas' woeful blue line, and realize how much his presence in goal will make them better. They way these things tend to work, it will probably prove to be a team which will allow him to make the Stars pay, repeatedly. But by all reports he is beloved in that locker room, and he certainly is in this community (and in this household, where 'wanting to be like Marty' has turned my seven-year-old into a rabid Stars fan, a budding hockey player...and allowed him to show us things we never guessed he had, as his team's soccer goalie)...and you hate to say goodbye to class like that.

But if they must go...what an amazing way to go. Life rarely follows the script; tonight, for Marty, Jere and Mikey, the heroes rose to the moment, and saved the day, and got to take us with them as they went out in style. Stars-style.