The Dallas Stars had four games postponed this week because of a dangerous winter storm, and their main concern has become the people in their state, not hockey.
“The guys want to play, they want to get on a roll,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said Thursday. “But more importantly, it’s the safety and the well-being of the people in the state of Texas that’s at the forefront of all of our minds, and that’s far more important than us playing a game.”
The Stars practiced Thursday for the first time in three days but learned afterward their home game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday had been postponed.
“I think it was the right decision,” Dallas captain Jamie Benn said. “Obviously with a lot of people not having power and going through a tough time, I think the city of Dallas and the mayor (Eric Johnson) made the right decision, and not much we could do about it.”
The Stars game Monday against the Nashville Predators was postponed shortly before the scheduled puck drop, and their game against the Predators scheduled for Tuesday was postponed the next day. Their game Thursday against the Lightning was postponed Wednesday.
The NHL and the Stars said the decisions to postpone the games were made after discussions with the Dallas mayor’s office. No makeup dates have been announced.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the extreme weather has been blamed for the deaths of more than three dozen people across the southern United States. It also reported that fewer than 500,000 homes and businesses in Texas remain without power, down from 3 million the day before. Because of record low temperatures that have damaged pipes, safe drinking water also is an issue, with authorities ordering 7 million people in the state, about a quarter of the population, to boil tap water before drinking it. The AP reported Gov. Greg Abbott has urged some residents to turn off the water to their homes to prevent busted pipes and preserve water pressure in the state’s municipal systems.
“The people, they’re suffering more than we are, and it’s more important to get the state up and running again and [help] the people who are having a very difficult time right now, both in staying warm and feeding their families, which breaks my heart,” Bowness said. “We hope that all falls into place very, very quickly and we’ll deal with us as we go along.”
The Stars are planning to fly to Florida on Sunday to begin a five-game road trip, which starts Monday with the first of three games at the Florida Panthers and ends with two games at the Lightning. Dallas’ next scheduled home game is against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 4.
Benn and defenseman Esa Lindell said they are letting players who are without power stay at their homes. Forward Tyler Seguin, who is in Toronto after having hip surgery in New York on Nov. 2, opened his Dallas-area home to teammates.
The Stars have had eight games postponed this season, including their first four games because of NHL COVID-19 protocol: games against the Panthers on Jan. 14 (rescheduled for Monday) and Jan. 15 (May 3), and against the Lightning on Jan. 17 (May 4) and Jan. 19 (May 10).
Dallas (5-3-4) has played 12 games this season, tied with the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild for the second-fewest in the NHL, after the New Jersey Devils (10).
“Obviously there’s been a lot of change with games being postponed,” Benn said. “But it’s mostly been taking care of each other, thinking about everybody out there in the city of Dallas and the surroundings that have been affected by this. Hopefully our city and the rest of Texas gets power back soon and we can get back to somewhat of a normal life.”