A Tale of Two Teams
The Dallas Stars played a wicked role of Jekyll and Hyde over the previous two NHL seasons. Act one saw the Stars advance all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Act two resulted in the Stars completely missing the playoffs the following season.
Chalk it up to a condensed schedule and a mass plethora of injuries, or just say the expectations were too high. Either way, the Stars failed to meet expectations. Changes needed to be made. They were.
That New Roster Smell
If you followed along on first day of free agency, you remember the absolute whirlwind of signings the Stars announced. To no ones surprise Ryan Suter inked his new deal almost immediately. Followed by Alexander Petrovic, Luke Glendening, Andreas Borgman, and arguably the most surprising, Braden Holtby. (We are still trying to find out about his turtles making their trip back down to the States.)
The one signing I haven’t mentioned is in fact who very well may be the most instrumental piece added that day. Jani Hakanpaa. Hakanpaa was a midseason acquisition for the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2020-21 NHL campaign and brought exactly what he needed to the social media darlings of the east coast. Physical play and hard hits.
Finnish Mafia: Enforcer
The Stars added Hakanpaa to a roster that already boasts a strong Finnish presence. With the likes of Esa Lindell, Joel Kiviranta, Miro Heiskanen, and Roope Hintz, the Finnish Mafia now has it’s enforcer in Hakanpaa. Hakanpaa stands at 6’5 and 218 pounds. Ding ding goes the bell. The freshly dubbed Finnish Enforcer, that just happened, was third in hits in the NHL in the previous season.
With the loss of Stephen Johns to retirement and Jamie Oleksiak to the Seattle Kraken expansion, the Stars filled the void of a hard hitting blueliner with the Hakanpaa signing. While the name may not light up the scoreboard or fill out the stat sheet at the end of the night, look for Hakanpaa to make a huge impact nightly with his physical presence alone. With the NHL continuing to increase the speed of the game each season, guys like Hakanpaa cause major disruptions and live in the minds of their opponents. Just ask the New York Rangers. Not like they didn’t restructure their team for some dork in a Capitals jersey. right Ked?