A Fan's Confession
Secrets of Dallas Stars revealed
My wife and I had the recent, wonderful opportunity to attend an incredible event in Grapevine. The Park Place/Dallas Stars Casino Night is one of the biggest fund-raisers benefiting the Dallas Stars Foundation, a charitable organization which focuses on providing support for area children and youth. The fifth annual event was held on Saturday, January 26, 2002. It was an evening where we star struck fans had the chance to rub elbows with an elite set of athletes (The Dallas Stars), at an elite car dealership (Park Place Lexus), with incredible food (Maggianos Little Italy) and open bar. Mind you this was not a free event, but it was for a very noble cause.... no not the charity.... my wife!
You see several years ago, we were invited by friends to go to our first professional hockey game to see the newly relocated Minnesota North Stars. Yes, of course I liked it, but she loved it! It wasn't long before I realized my wife, the intellectually superior partner in our relationship, was addicted to the sport.
Of course it started with the admiration of just that one player, Mike...Mighty Mo...Number Nine...the tall, handsome, humble leader of the Stars and one of the all time best at the sport...Mr. Modano! She informed me that Mike would be the only man she would leave me for. I confessed that he would be the only man I would leave her for too! Hey, he's a great player! Yet her addiction went much deeper.
Soon she was spouting quotes, facts and trivia from the rest of the team; then the division, the conference, the league and finally, the whole damn history of the sport. Who would have guessed that this gorgeous housewife, mother of four, reared in the ice rink mecca town of Iowa Park, Texas, would, in a few short years, amass a knowledge of hockey that Ralph and Razor (the voices of the Stars) would be envious of?
One might correctly surmise that this has been quite troubling to my psyche. I found myself crying at movies, concerned about our brand of laundry soap and deeply desiring meaningful conversation or at least chocolate once a month. Wait, I'm getting off track. My therapist is helping me on that part.
This years casino event was going to be quite unusual. The day before it was to take place, the Stars coach of five years, Ken Hitchcock, had been unceremoniously fired and General Manager Bob Gainey, who fired the coach, also hopped off the listing ship of mediocrity that the Stars found themselves drowning in. (It took the wisdom of our eight year old son to explain the reason for Hitchcock's firing. Its because he never smiled.). To further fuel the flame, the team, who some thought would feel a sense of relief from their former intense, demanding coach's release, proceeded to get crushed on their own ice by one of the cellar dwellers in their division that evening. All things considered, we expected Casino Night to be a somewhat solemn affair.
Nonetheless, my wife, who would forgo all personal creature comforts, like new clothes, cars, and even food to afford our season tickets, was dearly looking forward to the event. An event she cherishes no more than say... our wedding or the birth of any of our children. So when, a mere 45 minutes into the hour plus drive to Grapevine, I popped the proverbial question, Got the tickets? There commenced a guttural groan, the distinct sound of dry heaving, followed by expletives reminiscent of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. She never formally answered the question, but after ten years of marriage, there is a certain intuition that transcends the spoken language.
Needless to say, the trip from Plano back to our home in Sherman to retrieve the tickets, back to Plano and, finally, on to Grapevine would have been one of the quietest car trips we have ever had, but for the hissing sighs of the cornered alley cats anticipating each others first (accusatory) attack.
Arriving exceedingly super way far past fashionably late (in hockey lingo, we made the third period), I sure felt like an ENRON investor or Mike Tyson date.
Much to my surprise, the event was quite festive. All of the Dallas Stars players were still there. They were all pleasant, approachable, affable, stellar performers. True to form, Mike Modano (being mauled like a bag of rice dropped in the center of Kabul) was gracious and patient, signing thousands of autographs and posing for hundreds of pictures with future Mrs. Modano wannabees. Hell, even Ed Belfour was smiling and courteous, less than a day after he performed no better than I would in goal.
Now to the most amazing event of the night. While we were milling around with these celebrity athletes, I began to feel a sense of pride in what I had previously lamented over regarding my wife's addiction to the sport. No, it wasn't that she had impressed Mrs. Sydor by asking about their twin children, or enlightening her to the fact that they were the only male twins of the five sets of twins that the Stars players have. Nor was it that she recognized John Erskine (a new young player) and congratulated him on kicking an opponents butt during a recent fight (John was pretty stoked that he had made a fan!). Nope, the pinnacle of the evening came when she congratulated Joe Nieuwendyk on his selection to the Canadian Olympic team and for the wonderful comment of praise that Wayne Gretzky had made about him, to which Joe responded, Wayne said something about me? Yep, my wife got to tell one of the current greats of the game what the greatest player who ever played the game said about him.
So what is wrong with this Dallas Stars team?....Absolutely nothing! They are a great group of deserved athletes who all are winners, irrespective of where they finish in the standings. Yet, I can't help but believe that if they will only perform on ice, like they did at Casino Night, they will be reading their names on another Stanley Cup! (Of course if there is something wrong with their lineup, they probably need to consult my wife!)
As for me, I am now the proud husband of a hockey fanatic for whom I love so much that I cleverly disguised the lower portion of a Victoria's Secret undergarment and successfully had Mike autograph it . Sorry Mr. Modano, I feared without my little hat trick you would have respectfully declined the request.
Giving my wife Stacy this little gift was the icing for the evening as we laughed all the way home about the entire event ( or at least until she commented on how she had wished she had been wearing the undergarment while he was signing it!) I didn't realize just how lucky I am to have such a wonderful woman as my wife. Guess Ill just keep her...... Unless, of course, Mike wants one of us!! GO STARS
Grant A Craig, MD