DALLAS -- Excitement was in the air outside American Airlines Center as AT&T Plaza was filled with Dallas Stars fans anticipating the opening night of the NHL season following the 113-day lockout. The Party on the Plaza featuring BBQ, beer, street hockey, games, prizes and a special meet and greet with former Stars center Bob Bassen was quite a scene as I spotted multiple Stars sweaters from the franchise's first 20 years in Dallas. Names like Modano, Zubov, Keane, Belfour, Carbonneau, Hull and even Pierre Turgeon were represented in the plaza. Among the loyal group of diehards who had showed up several hours prior to the 7 p.m. start, I spoke to several fans whose overwhelming sentiment was just happiness to have their game back on the ice.
"Words can't explain how overwhelmed with excitement I am to see an all-time great like (Jaromir) Jagr in a Dallas Stars uniform," longtime Stars fan Cody Armstrong said. "I'm also excited to see some of the young guys and am really just happy to have hockey back."
In honor of the Stars 20th anniversary, the evening began with a video montage of the team's history that included the 1999 Stanley Cup title. Stars great Mike Modano, who joined the organization this past week as an executive adviser and alternate governor, dropped the ceremonial first puck of the season to officially get the action under way.
The Stars off-season was highlighted by the acquisition of the NHL's active leader in goals, assists and points, Jaromir Jagr. While Jagr is a month shy of turning 41, the NHL legend was the star of the game as he scored the Stars' first two goals of the young season and added assists on the next two to lead Dallas to a 4-3 win over Phoenix.
"Don't get used to it, guys," joked Jagr. "It was strange. We had only one week in training camp. I had to get used to new teammates, too."
The sellout crowd of 18,532 included familiar faces such as Texas Rangers starting pitcher Derek Holland (clad in a white No. 68 Jagr jersey) and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith. Everyone was happy to have the NHL back and local fans had a message to send to their newest star: "Jaromir Jagr, welcome to Dallas."
For information on tickets, visit DallasStars.com
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