With a pair of teams in the NBA and NHL playoffs, Dallas is a pretty fortunate city. The Stars lead the Wild, 2-1, in their first-round playoff series, while the Mavericks are tied with the Thunder at one game apiece heading into Game 3 on Thursday.
The Stars went 50-23-9 this season, won the Central and finished with the second-most points in hockey (109). The Mavs, meanwhile, went 42-40, made the playoffs as a 6-seed and have won eight of their last 11 games overall.
So, which team is Dallas more excited about?
“Well, that’s a great question, and I think it’s an evolving answer,” The Ticket in Dallas radio host Bob Sturm said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “As long as Dirk Nowitzki walks the planet in a Mavericks uniform, this city is going to adore him and hope for the best. Since Roger Staubach, I’m not sure there’s been a bigger hero sports-wise in this city – and that says something. That said, this city also understands that one team has a chance to win a title and one that doesn’t. They’re under no delusions that the Mavericks are going to have a deep playoff run. They know that. But they also know that this Stars team looks like the real deal, and they look like a team that could win a couple rounds and then who knows what could happen? So I would say as the spring goes on, there’s a lot of people dusting off their Stars gear from the ’99 and 2000 Cup Finals seasons.”
The Stars advanced to at least the conference finals three straight years from 1998-2000. Since then, however, they have advanced to just one conference finals and have missed the playoffs in six of the last eight years.
“The Stars have let this happen over the last 15 years,” Sturm said. “They kind of dropped from relevancy in this city and they just didn’t put a great product on the ice on a regular basis, but it’s slowly happening.”
Of course, it helps having great young talent in Jamie Benn, 26, Tyler Sequin, 24, and John Klingberg, 23. Those three players finished with 58+ points this season, including Benn, who had a team-high 89.
“They’re assembling the nucleus of a team that we think can contend for the next several years with a lot of young guys,” Sturm said. “I don’t know if this is their year, but this definitely is the first year that Dallas as a city is taking hockey seriously. There’s always going to be hockey nuts, but as far as the rank-and-file Dallas sports fan, I think finally hockey is back on their map and it makes for some real fun times again.”