FRISCO – Dallas Stars players are on board with the league’s realignment plan that will have the team leaving the Pacific Division and playing in a new, more time zone friendly eight-team conference.
“It’s an extremely drastic change for us here in Dallas. I am obviously going to miss going to LA, Anaheim and Phoenix and playing in the warm spots, but to honest with you the travel is awful,” said Stars forward Steve Ott. “All in all, it definitely makes things a lot easier on us.”
The Stars will be in a conference with Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg. Six of those teams are in the same time zone as the Stars and two – Detroit and Columbus – are in the Eastern Time Zone.
“Our travel goes down a considerable amount,” said defenseman Mark Fistric. “We’ll be getting into cities at a reasonable time and back home at reasonable times. I think those back-to-back games become a little easier on us. I think any time we spend less time traveling it gives us an advantage.”
Captain Brenden Morrow mentioned the travel, but also the balanced schedule that will have the Stars playing the 22 teams outside their conference in a home-and-home every season.
“It’s great for us travel-wise and schedule-wise, getting to see every team here for our fans,” Morrow said. “You don’t have to wait every couple years to see superstars like Crosby and Ovechkin. That’s great for them, maybe not great for us because we have to play those guys one extra time.”
The Stars will now see current division rivals San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix just two times a season, but they’ll rivalries with Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota and other teams they see four times under the current system.
“I think the Western Conference itself is a natural rival. You play them four or six times, it doesn’t matter. Those four games can be just as hairy as any of the six,” Ott said. “I’m really excited about the change.”
Notes: Fistric has hearing, no decision yet
*Stars defenseman Mark Fistric had his disciplinary hearing Tuesday afternoon with the NHL about his hit on New York Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter on Saturday. No decision was announced Tuesday, so it should come on Wednesday.
*Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said defenseman Alex Goligoski, who has missed the last 11 games with a broken thumb, has a “60-40” chance of playing Thursday against San Jose.
*Stars captain Brenden Morrow (back) and defenseman Trevor Daley (back) are probable for Thursday’s game.