At long last
This is the final regular season game between the San Jose Sharks and the Dallas Stars as Pacific Division opponents. Next year's NHL realignment will see the Stars move into the "Central West" division or whatever it will be called, where they will play against the Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, and some other loser teams. It should be a great fit for the Stars.
While a move from one Western division to another might not be as dramatic as the Red Wings heading east, it does mean the the Sharks will be seeing a lot less of the Stars in the years to come. Rather than playing a half-dozen divisional games against Dallas each season the Sharks will only see them three times a year, barring a playoff series that could also become more rare due to the new format of the post-season.
When I wrote my article saying goodbye to the Red Wings, I found myself feeling surprisingly nostalgic. The Sharks and the Red Wings have had some wonderful encounters in their history, and facing a future without Detroit actually made me a bit sad.
This is not how I feel about the Stars leaving the Pacific.
A brief history lesson
The Dallas Stars joined the Pacific Division after the 1998 realignment, just in time to win the President's Trophy and Stanley Cup. They also finished first in the division five out of the next seven seasons. They've beaten the Sharks in the only two playoff series the two teams ever played, most recently in 07-08, and then had the nerve to be too shitty to even qualify for the playoffs ever since, so the Sharks have never had a chance to get their revenge. The Stars might make it this year, but they'll just get smoked by the Blackhawks in the first round, so what's even the point?
Dislike of the Dallas Stars and everything they represent runs deep in Sharks fans, Kings fans, Ducks fans, and the Battle of California community in general. The Dallas Stars are the only team for which we California fans can universally muster the distaste, distrust, and disgust we normally reserve for one another. The Stars came into our division at the height of their power and just started beating the crap out of our teams for years, winning a Stanley Cup by blatantly cheating, and just generally being real jerks about everything.
During the years in which they were actually a good team, the Stars featured some of the biggest villains ever to lace up hockey skates, including pompous drunk Ed Belfour, murderous hillbilly Derian Hatcher, and whiny disgrace-to-America Mike Modano. In the modern era they have the dubious distinction of having employed both Sean Avery and Steve Ott AT THE SAME TIME, a crime so heinous it makes one question whether a universe in which it is permitted is actively malevolent.
Finally, Dallas fans are part of that special spoiled group of sports fans with teams that gave them a championship after playing fewer than ten years in a city. That's not how it's supposed to work, you assholes. You didn't suffer. You didn't earn it. You're no better than those filthy Avalanche fans.
End of the road
Realignment is upon us. The Stars have been whining for years about how hard it was for them to be in the Pacific Division, saying that the time zones were too hard on their poor sleepy players, when really they should have been celebrating the fact that they got to visit California so often. Now the Stars have finally gotten what they've been praying for, and will have the honor of getting the shit kicked out of them by the Blackhawks for the next ten years.
Congratulations, guys. It's exactly what you deserve.
There's the door, Stars. Walk through it or get thrown out the damn window. I don't care. Just go.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-0. #Niemi4Vezina.
"There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do."
As we near the end of the season, I'm also nearing the end of my season-long countdown of my favorite books. My third-favorite book is Night Watch by Terry Pratchett, but really this spot is for all of Pratchett's Discworld novels, of which there are dozens. If I hadn't limited myself to no more than two books from a single author on this list, it would have been fifty percent Terry Pratchett books, because he is amazing. He has written more books that I love than any other author who has ever lived, and I cannot recommend his books highly enough.
Discworld is a long series full of interlocking characters and settings, but it isn't necessary to read it in order, which is nice. Here is a handy reading-order guide if you want to start at a logical beginning point. My personal recommendation is to start with the Watch novels, which feature my favorite character in all of fiction, Sam Vimes. If you like to read and don't like the Discworld books, then I just don't understand how your brain works.