Stephen Johns Returned to the Stars Lineup Saturday

About a week ago, I wrote a short post about a hockey player in the Dallas Stars organization by the name of Stephen Johns who was finally cleared to return to the lineup to play hockey again following a twenty-two month recovery from a head injury Johns suffered as the result of a hit he took from Matt Duchene of the Col0rado Avalanche back in 2017.

In my post It’s A Long Road Back I briefly spoke about the seriousness of head trauma and how from my own experiences with my son I was thrilled to see Stephen Johns finally making his return to the sport. Needless to say hockey is my sport and head injuries are a fact of life within the sport itself. Johns played his first game on Saturday night for the Stars’ AHL affiliate the Texas Stars, and in his first game back scored a goal and three assists on home ice against the Toronto Marlies to contribute to a 5-3 Stars victory.

All things considered this was some incredible news because although his return had been long awaited, the Stars organization seemingly handled his return cautiously and rightfully so. Concussion symptoms following a head injury have an indefinite recovery time. Players who experience symptoms referred to as post-concussion syndrome resulting from head trauma have to take things day by day and that is quite imaginably very frustrating. It’s great to see him back and I’m looking forward to his eventual recall to the big team.

It’s A Long Road Back

www.defendingbigd.com/2020/1/8/21056912/dallas-stars-stephen-johns-texas-conditioning-assignment-health-post-traumatic-headaches

Head injuries in professional sports are no joking matter. In contact sports such as football or hockey they are at times simply an inevitable part of the game.

My oldest son having played both football and hockey at the scholastic level not too long ago, head injuries were once a major concern for us. To this day I often ponder if academic sports take this issue serious enough. He suffered at least one documented concussion playing HS football and possibly one other that we know of while playing travel youth hockey at the bantam level.

Parents of all young athletes should try to keep up on this topic as much as possible without becoming completely neurotic about it. Take equipment purchases seriously and never undercut helmet expenses. The technology has greatly improved in the past decade and the potential danger of head trauma can never be taken too lightly.

The Stars are one my favorite pro teams and this is good news to anyone who follows the team or the sport in general.

The NHL Winter Classic 2020

Yesterday’s NHL Winter Classic 2020 from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas was an amazing way to start off the new decade as a Stars fan. The game itself as well as the coverage of the event on a whole was thrilling to see. Naturally seeing the Dallas Stars come away with a 4-2 victory over the rival Nashville Predators in the end made it that much sweeter, especially after the Stars were down 2-0 in the early part of the game. My compliments to all the folks who put an effort into making it happen, I never thought an outdoor game in such a genuinely warm environment could work but it did and it was an enjoyable way to spend the first day of the new year.

Of course I spent a large portion of the game tweeting and to no surprise at all took a lump or two over a tweet that I think was misunderstood, but it was my fault because I think after looking back on it that I probably could have worded it better than I did. The sport of Hockey is an emotional one, and at times we as fans walk a fine line in wanting to see our favorite team win, but I don’t think that there is a single person out there including myself that wants to see a player get injured trying to win a game.

I should probably clarify what I tweeted out because by far I do not condone what the Dallas Stars’ Corey Perry did when he delivered a head shot hit on the Predators Ryan Ellis and I think he was remorseful for doing so. It was definitely an on-the-edge of your seat moment in the opening minutes of the game and the reactions from the fans on Twitter including myself went on for hours even after the game ended. Sadly both players inevitably missed the rest of the game as the Predators Ryan Ellis did not return after the being helped off, and Corey Perry was assessed a major penalty and thrown out of the game.

Again, Hockey is an intense sport and at times whether you are a fan watching the game or a professional player participating in the game, emotions can sometimes get the better of you. I would like to personally apologize to the all the folks on Twitter who might have seen my tweet and maybe even may have raised an eyebrow at what I said, but in my defense it was purely a reactionary response to Ryan Ellis’ hit on New York Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich which was equally debated over social media following that game. Having watched both games on live television I learned something from this and that is that the NHL must figure out a better way to set a precedence in how they not only deal with a repeat offender, but what criteria goes into determining the repercussions for players who partake in such tactics. At first thought I was thinking that maybe reviewing these plays on the spot when they happen could work because Ellis’ hit on Buchnevich definitely warranted a major penalty, an ejection from that game, and a league suspension as well, but that would likely slow down the game and leave far too many incidences requiring in-game reviews.

At the time Corey Perry’s hit on Ryan Ellis seemed like poetic justice considering how I felt after watching him get away with hit on Buchnevich, but by far there is no question that he did not have to face the consequences Perry did because for Perry just the shame of being thrown out of a game like the nationally televised Winter Classic seemed far more punishing in itself and the Nashville Predators not only got the five man advantage but they also scored two power play goals on the penalty assessed to Dallas for Corey Perry’s actions. All Ryan Ellis got following his hit on Rangers Pavel Buchnevich was a two-minute minor penalty for elbowing and very lame review of the hit by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety official George Parros.

It is baffling at times but onward we go because the second half of the season is upon us and today the Dallas Stars are 23-14-4 and sitting in third place in the Western Conference’s Central Division eight points ahead of the same division rival Nashville Predators they faced in the game yesterday. Next time something like that happens I will take a moment to think before hitting the send button on a tweet of such a sensitive nature.

Dallas Stars Will Hold Onto Julius Honka

The NHL (RFA) Restricted Free Agents had till 5:00pm today to sign with their teams in order to remain eligible to play in the big league this season but the deadline has passed, and Dallas Stars defenseman Julius Honka did not sign his offer. Within the last few hours it was reported that although teams could have signed Honka for virtually nothing, Stars General Manager Jim Nill opted to hold onto Honka’s right pending what happens between now and the upcoming February 24, 2020 deadline.

The Stars drafted Julius Honka in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, 14th overall. Honka will turn 24 years old on Wednesday of this week and he is  currently playing for JYP in the Finnish Elite League in Finland, where he will remain as Dallas Stars Property. A situation similar to that of Edmonton Oilers Jesse Puljujarvi, and now neither of them will likely play in the NHL this season.

Honka asked to be traded after being scratched for 35 straight games at the end of last season as the Stars were about to make a run deep into the NHL post-season. As a Dallas Stars defenseman Honka logged three seasons, 87 games, and finished up with only 13 points (2 goals and 11 assists) and was -7 during his tenure.

While teams could have acquired Honka for virtually nothing, that could not benefit the Stars. Honka does not want to play in Dallas and the two sides remain deadlocked since the Stars do not have interest in sending him somewhere else for no compensation. Honka will not be a Dallas Star going forward.

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