Dallas Stars ready to finish their story next season

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Tyler Seguin says he thinks the past two seasons of Dallas Stars hockey would make for a good book.

The 2019-20 season started with eight losses in nine games, followed by 11 wins in 12 games. The coach was fired at midseason for conduct detrimental to the team -- it was later revealed that the firing was due to an addiction to alcohol. Then the season was abruptly halted for the COVID-19 pandemic. It restarted with Dallas in the Edmonton bubble, where they stunned the NHL with a run through the Western Conference to the Stanley Cup Final, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 2021 season started with a COVID-19 outbreak on the team that delayed Dallas' first game by a week and a half. In February, four more games were postponed because of a deadly ice storm in Texas. Injuries piled up as quickly as did one-goal losses -- the Stars had 14 overtime or shootout losses this season, most in the NHL.

"We had injuries. We had COVID. We had a lot of things. In the back of my head, I could count how many excuses we had," Seguin told ESPN recently. "But I still felt like we were going to find a way, because we're just a pesky little group that won't go away."

Until they went away. Dallas finished with 60 points, four behind the Nashville Predators for the final playoff spot in the Central Division. The Stars became the first team since the 2012-13 New Jersey Devils to miss the playoffs after losing in the Cup Final.

"It's disappointing to go from making the Stanley Cup Final to not even making the playoffs. That is abnormal," Seguin said. "At the end of the day, we know how good our team is when we have everybody in the lineup. I love us against anybody."

A fall from grace like this might necessitate sweeping change for an organization. But Dallas stayed the course at the trade deadline and appears ready to return most of its team for the 2021-22 season.

"When people ask what went wrong this year, I still look at so many things that went right. Which is why I'm happy we didn't do crazy things at the deadline, lose a bunch of guys," Seguin said. "I'm happy that the messaging was to keep a lot of the same players for next year and give it one last shot."