Fists & Assists: Record Night in Vancouver
You could call it a line brawl à la carte.
Three separate fights in three consecutive seconds of game time. When Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk set out to put the finishing touches on his re-crafting of the Dallas roster, he found a collection of grain-fed Canadian prairie boys who could grind with the best of them and change a game's perception when called upon. Like last night in Vancouver. Trailing 3-1 in the second, the Stars' .fourth line staged a shift for the ages.
Puck drops. Gloves drop: Ryan Garbutt vs Aaron Volpatti. Penalties assessed. Puck drops. Gloves drop: Vernon Fiddler vs Maxim LaPierre. Penalties assessed. Puck drops. Gloves drop: Eric Nyström vs Dale Weise. Penalties assessed.
Judges' decision: Dallas 3, Vancouver 0. Scoreboard before: Canucks 3, Stars 1. Final score: Dallas 4, Vancouver 3.
When former Stars owner Tom Hicks overextended himself by collecting super-expensive sporting baubles like the Texas Rangers and English football's Liverpool Reds, the Stars' fortunes dimmed precariously. New owner Tom Gaglardi -- ironically, from Vancouver -- liked what he saw in the astute Nieuwendyk's moves through the lean times and committed the capital to ensure those years would appear only in a rear-view mirror. With the extra financial firepower, Nieuwendyk proceeded to benefit from his observations during a Hall of Fame career and added some punch to the Star's scoring pop.
In so doing, he has also taken notice of NHL zeitgeist.
Remember when baseball emerged from its odious work action that cancelled a World Series? It needed something to waft away the stink, and got it in the form of a Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run derby. It's debatable whether or not this feel-good episode saved baseball, but it's beyond dispute that the grand poobahs of the game looked the other way on the matter of PEDs, perferring to watch turnstiles whir instead.
Fighting has always been a contentious issue in the NHL. Post-lockout, it seems the governors wanted to hedge their bets on how forgiving fans would be, and have decided to let boys be boys. Count Dallas among the converts.
Meanwhile, the Henrik half of Vancouver's prolific Sedin twins added to his achievements last night, too. His assist before the brouhaha tied him with fellow Swede Markus Näslund as Vancouver's all-time points leader.
For the record, that got the loudest ovation of the night.