Building Superstars: The NHL’s Toughest Task

All of the dust has settled on one of the most unique NHL seasons of all time. A story that will be told until all of us reading this are dust as well. The Tampa Bay Lightning defeated my beloved Dallas Stars in six games to win the 2020 Stanley Cup. (That will never be easy to type.)

Going into the bubble, every single NHL team was allotted a certain amount of personnel to join them for safety purposes. One of the personnel was a media person. The Stars elected their media guy, Jeff Toates. Toates, known around Dallas, has a knack for capturing perfect moments inside the Stars locker rooms, media trips, and practices. His work inside the bubble was stuff of legends.

On Thursday night, “We’re Not Going Home” premiered on YouTube for all to see. (It also premiered on a local affiliate buy they are in a elementary school type fight with streaming platforms so I won’t give those goons the time of day.) It was nothing shot of perfect. Aside from mentally preparing yourself for the inevitable ending. I won’t spoil it, but I will conveniently post it below.

The NHL’s Storytelling Issue

By now you have spent a full hour watching the Toates masterpiece. Right? Okay, quiz coming immediately after the article. Be ready kids.

After watching this you can’t help but feel the joy and the pain that goes into the playoffs. Even more so with the bubble. Spending months away from their families you find yourself choking up when the team has families send in their well wishes and good lucks before the Stanley Cup Final.

The NHL Media shows us players trying to guess the object in a box. Thrilling stuff.

What Toates does in less than 60 minutes is what the NHL fails to do every single season. Let us get to know these players we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars on collectively to support them. Seeing the absolute raw emotion in players that normally are chastised by the media and fans for being “Too quiet”. The most prime example that comes to mind is Corey Perry.

Corey Perry is hated worldwide for his antics. He is the king of getting under opposing teams and fans skin. That’s his bread and butter. Or so we thought.

The only real spoiler I will give is that Perry is a guy you will go to war with and he will have your back every step of the way. The NHL wants Perry to remain a villain, and I can see why, but allowing the fans to see what these players are like in the locker rooms makes it hard not to hate the instigator a tad bit less.

Outside of the top skaters in the league, I find it odd that we don’t have more content like that of Toates. Fans in Dallas have only had their hands on this work of art for less than 24 hours and the general consensus is, “I have never loved this team more than I do now.” Even after taking us on the journey inside the bubble all the way to the Finals, fans are still finding ways to root for this team. Not just for the Stars on their chests, but for the names on their backs.

Thank you to Jeff Toates and the Dallas Stars and everyone involved for allowing us to take an hour out of a wicked year to experience what it’s like to live out a dream.

Gary Bettman, your move, you hobbit.

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