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Some Had Become Star-Struck in Game 5

Keenan and several other respected hockey people had predicted Dallas would win the series after routing the Ducks on Saturday.

May 06, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

Whether it was a sign of respect for the Dallas Stars or simple lack of regard -- really, no disrespect intended -- for the Mighty Ducks, an interesting development was taking place around the NHL.

The Stars' bandwagon was turning into a standing-room-only vehicle.

Fine, you expect that sort of thing before a Game 7.

Only this was unfolding over the weekend before Game 6 on Monday night in Anaheim, and during Game 5 in Dallas.

The much-traveled Mike Keenan, now coaching Florida, was on ESPN Radio on Saturday as the Ducks were losing in Game 5 and flatly declared that the Stars would rally from a 3-1 series deficit and advance to the Western Conference finals. In fairness to Keenan, he wasn't the only one.

Respected hockey minds were thinking the same thing and even saying so.

That was, of course, before Jiggy turned the Stars to dust in the Ducks' 4-3 victory over Dallas before a sellout crowd of 17,174 in the Western Conference semifinals. Though Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, "Jiggy," gave up the first goal of the game, more important, he did not give up the final one.

And so, the Stars, top-seeded in the Western Conference, landed on the sideline.

There will be some decisions to make in the off-season. Veteran defenseman Derian Hatcher will become an unrestricted free agent, and this could have easily been his final game with the Stars.

One bit of uncertainty was erased over the weekend when team owner Tom Hicks said he had decided not to sell the team.

Still, other changes are inevitable.

"There certainly are a lot of ways you can look at this series," Dallas goaltender Marty Turco said. "The bottom line is we lost.... We were loaded, we were prepared and we just didn't come through and I think everybody has just got to look in the mirror.

"Right now, it's all out the window. It hurts."

Said Mike Modano: "It's a really disappointing end to it all. Our goals are to make the finals every year and win the Stanley Cup. We built a team around that to do that.

"It'll be the frustrating part for players and management and Mr. Hicks. We've got a two-year window."

He was talking about the expiration of the league's collective bargaining agreement on Sept. 15, 2004.

"We don't know what's going to happen," Modano said. "This year and next year is the opportunity to do something."

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