Category: Dallas Stars (page 1 of 2)

The Primary Command

Few things are as thrilling in sports as a tied NHL Stanley Cup playoff game in the third period.  Only overtime. And the Stars outlasted the Predators Monday night in an edge-of-your-seat overtime slugfest to advance to the second round. My heart has just now this morning returned to its normal rhythms. Overtime in an NHL playoff game is the only true “sudden death” in sports. And it’s incredible.

One of the great things about a Stars game on TV is the running color commentary provided by Daryl “Razor” Reaugh. Every 90-seconds or so during every single game, Razor says something that makes me giggle. The guy’s a genius. Monday night he referred to the Stars’ six-foot-seven goalie Ben Bishop as the “net-minding mastadon.” After a wild flurry of saves late in the second period, Razor called Bishop a “brilliant rubber regurgitator.” He described a save by Nashville’s goaltender as “a sassy glove grab.” When the game was over and the American Airlines Center crowd was celebrating the series win, Razor reminded all the TV viewers back home that “the singular of confetti is confetto.”

Their second round series against the Blues begins in St. Louis tomorrow night.

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The world expects Christians to show love. That’s why people rip into the Church and rail against us when we don’t show love. That’s why they criticize us.

People don’t cuss at the beach because it’s sandy; it’s supposed to be sandy. We don’t complain when rain is wet; it’s supposed to be wet. we don’t gripe when the wind blows in Amarillo; it’s supposed to blow. That’s what we expect. And the world expects followers of Jesus to love. So, they rightfully call us out when we don’t.

(Sometimes we gripe when the wind blows in Amarillo. Let’s be honest.)

Scripture tells us plainly that, for children of God and disciples of Christ, the primary command is to love. From the Old Testament law and prophets to Jesus and his apostles, loving other people is the primary response and the natural reflection of God’s love that’s been so undeservedly showered on us

According to the Bible, if you’re not a loving person, you don’t know God. If you’re not showing love to others, you haven’t truly received God’s love for yourself.

Nobody in the world will listen to you talk about God if they experience you as an unloving person. You’ve got no credibility. It’s obvious you don’t know who you’re talking about. At Texas Dodge, they don’t let their salespeople drive Fords or Chevys. The president of PETA doesn’t run the membership drive for the NRA. And you’re not going to influence anybody for Christ if you’re not a loving person. You’ll push people away.

The Church is fractured and our witness to the world is compromised because we keep getting this one thing out of order. Instead of loving first, we judge first. We condemn first. We yell first. We whine and complain first. We forward the email first. We insult first, and then love comes somewhere after that. It’s out of order.

We put socioeconomic boundaries first. We put racial differences first. We prioritize parties, platforms, and politicians. We make denominational distinctions primary. We figure out our theology, doctrine, and church structures first, then decide later where, when, and how to show love.

Yes, there are difficult passages in the Bible that must be figured out and there are parts of Scripture about which followers of Jesus can legitimately disagree. But the command to love as the most important command and the one that trumps all the other commands is not one of them.

The apostle Paul tells us that a Christian who doesn’t love is like “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Eugene Peterson’s Message translates it “the creaking of a rusty gate.” Someone else might say “fingernails on a chalkboard.” In other words, a Christian or a church like that is irritating. It gets on people’s nerves. It’s outwardly obnoxious.

If love doesn’t come first, if love is not the origin and the energy behind and through what you’re doing, it’s not good. A Christian or a church that prioritizes love over everything else fills the world with the hope and healing and joy of our Lord. Without love, a Christian or a church is a tree that bears no fruit, a cloud that produces no rain. Obnoxious.

This is a critical time in the Church. Theologians, historians, and sociologists have been telling us for four decades that we are going through the greatest transition in the last 500 years of Church history. And what you do matters. It matters to you and your family, it matters to your friends and your city, it matters to this country and to the whole world.

Anger is acceptable now in our culture, but that’s not who you are. Discord and division are society’s tools, but not yours. The culture encourages you to look out for yourself first, but that’s not proper for Christians. Asserting myself, my rights, and my personality is not my priority as a follower of Jesus. We don’t go along with the world on this. We don’t say, “Well, that’s just the way things are.” To somehow justify not loving other people, no matter the reason, is to squash our creativity and insult God’s grace and ignore the command of Jesus.

No person in the world who runs into a Christian should ever have to wonder if that Christian is a safe person who will love them. No server at a restaurant, no teller at a bank, no classmate at your school, no neighbor on your street, and no member of your church should ever spend one minute wondering if love has disappeared from the earth. People who run into you, people who experience you, should believe in love.

Peace,

Allan

Dirk Owns Dallas

The Big German owns Big D.

Dirk Nowitzki took out a full page ad in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News to say “Thank You” to Mavericks fans and to the city after 21 Hall of Fame years in Dallas. It’s a rare kind of letter from a professional superstar athlete of Dirk’s caliber. Humble. Grateful. Selfless. Sincere.  Reflective. Kind. Two DMN sportswriters have confirmed that Dirk worked on this letter for a couple of weeks; these are all his words; it’s not ghost-written. And you can tell it’s from his heart.

Dirk could run for mayor of Dallas and win it today. When it comes to Dallas sports, he’s in an exclusive club with Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Staubach, of course, is in a class all by himself. He spent his entire career with the Cowboys, he won two Super Bowls in Dallas, he was a model citizen and team player, and he made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For the past 39 years and for the next 39 years, Staubach could run for Governor of Texas or the U.S. Senate and win it immediately. He’s that beloved in Dallas and throughout the state. Aikman also spent his entire career with the Cowboys , he won three Super Bowls, he was a model citizen and team player, and he also made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For some reason — somebody help me articulate this — it doesn’t feel like Aikman’s in the exact same category as Staubach. But he’s close. Right there with Dirk.

Mike Modano’s not in that class. He won a Stanley Cup as the face of the franchise with the Stars in 1999. Model citizen and team player, advocate for the sport and the city, but he finished his career in Detroit. And it’s hockey.

The very nature of baseball means nobody’s going to play their entire career with the Rangers. Plus, the Rangers have never won a championship. Nolan Ryan could be governor of Texas whenever he wants, but he doesn’t own Dallas. Jim Sundberg and Pudge Rodriguez could make the Dallas city council, but they don’t own the city. Besides, they played all their home games in Tarrant County.

Am I missing somebody? I think it’s Staubach, Aikman, Dirk. In that order. Does anybody else in Dallas sports belong in that group?

Peace,

Allan

Back from Chicago

I spent Saturday through Wednesday in Chicago on another of these nine quarterly retreats with Ruth Haley Barton’s Transforming Community. And while Mary and Hannah and I did some really great things up there, I’m struggling to get caught up with all the really cool things we missed here at home.

We always try to work in a fun event or two in Chicago as a needed balance to the oftentimes difficult self-reflection and introspection that happens on these retreats. We’ve been to a White Sox game, we’ve taken in the architectural boat tour (a lot more fun than it sounds), we’ve been to Harry Carey’s restaurant, and we’ve done the Bean downtown, Grant Park, and a comedy club. This time around we scheduled two things: the Chicago art museum and Hamilton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You know we had to get a picture with the Ferris Bueller painting and Hannah had to get reprimanded more than once for getting too close to the art. And then Tuesday we hooked up with Grace, who lives in California, and Phil, who lives in another part of Texas — they’ve both become great friends — and saw “Hamilton” together at the historic downtown Chicago CIBC Theatre. The words came way too fast for me, but what a show! I wish I could see it again because I know I missed a bunch of funny, clever lines. The moving stage, the creative writing, the over-the-top performances, the comedy, the history — very impressive!

So, while we were away, Virginia topped Texas Tech in overtime to win the national championship. That’s fine. Nobody wanted Texas Tech to win. Except Tiffani and George. And they finished first and second in our annual Central staff bracket contest. Bragging rights and a free lunch. And, yes, Tiffani’s guns are up all year around. Heading into the Elite Eight, I was in first place and still had all four of my Final Four teams alive. I just needed Duke or Purdue or Kentucky or Gonzaga to win. Just one of those four teams. Just one more win, it didn’t matter who it was. But they all four lost and I’m watching it from a tiny TV at Lou Malnati’s Pizza in Chicago.  Good thing I had that deep dish supreme to console me. Final numbers: Tiffani-75, George-72, Kevin-71, Allan-70.

The Amarillo Sod Poodles opened up their inaugural home season in our brand new downtown ballpark on Monday. And I missed it! So we got there as fast as we could — last night — and watched our AA San Diego Padres affiliate beat the Corpus Christi Hooks in an entertaining slug fest. It was cold, too cold for baseball. But that’s always going to be Amarillo in April. It was 88-degrees on Wednesday and then 53-degrees yesterday. I’m going again Sunday when it’s supposed to be in the lower 70s. This is Whitney, Carrie-Anne, Karen, Mean Jean, Greg, and me trying to stay warm in Dale and Karen’s great seats behind home plate. What a beautiful ball park! I’m hoping to make about 30 of these games this summer.

I also missed Dirk Nowitski’s last game as a Dallas Maverick and I’ve had to go on-line to watch the stirring tribute the Spurs gave him in their arena in San Antonio. If you haven’t seen it, you must watch this video. I’ve always admired the Spurs as a classy organization with a lot of pride and professionalism. We’ve all come to expect that from the Spurs. But they cranked it up a few notches for Dirk’s last game. During the introductions, they showed a video of Dirk highlights, mostly of Dirk dunking on Tim Duncan and shooting over Tony Parker and faking out Manu Ginobelli — it was a highlight reel of Dirk beating the Spurs! How really cool and unexpected! The Mavericks and Spurs are bitter Midwest Division rivals and they have played some significant games against each other over the years. There was about a ten year period there where the stakes were incredibly high every time these two teams faced off. And the highlight reel brought Nowitski to tears. And if you have a heart at all, it’ll probably choke you up, too.

Lastly — man, this is sports-heavy today — the NHL playoff season has begun and the Dallas Stars are in. Wednesday night they came from behind to beat Nashville 3-2 in the best-of-seven opener and I watched every exciting minute of it. It’s been a while for the Stars and I forgot just how intense and crazy the NHL’s second season really is. Breath-taking. Edge of your seat. So much fun. It’s border-line blasphemous to say, but NHL playoff hockey is better than football. Game two is tomorrow. Go Stars.

Peace,

Allan

Hat Trick!

Adam Cracknell scored his first career hat trick last night to help the Stars cruise past San Jose 6-1 at American Airlines Center and Whitney and I were there to see it! Thanks to Brenda we had just a really great night together. Until we settled into our seats at center ice during the warm up, I had forgotten how much I really, really love NHL hockey. For grace and speed and skill and tension and pace and athleticism and teamwork and pure non-stop action, nothing beats the NHL. I forgot. I forgot how much I love hockey. Thank you, Brenda! We had a blast.

We wrapped up our quick weekend trip to DFW this morning by meeting some of our oldest and best friends from Mesquite for breakfast at the Pioneer Restaurant in old Arlington. It turned into a two-hour deal and it easily could have gone until past lunch. Carrie-Anne and I and our family feel so blessed to love and be loved by the Reeves, Millers, and Moores for so long now. Our Lord has faithfully brought us all through so much over the past seventeen years. Together.

Peace,

Allan

Game Seven

StarsBluesGame7

I know it sounds blasphemous here in the great state of Texas. I know it cuts across all Texas sensibilities and goes against the grains of my culture and my upbringing. But here we go. I’m saying this and I’m standing by it:

NHL Stanley Cup Playoff hockey beats football any day of the week. And for energy, nerves, tension, excitement and drama, any Game Seven in the NHL playoffs beats any football game at any level. Ever.

The most obvious attraction to me is that overtime in a hockey playoff game is the only true “sudden death” of any sport. In basketball a tie game is settled with a ticking clock. In baseball the home team always gets a last at bat. In football you can generally see the end of overtime coming a mile away as the running back takes two harmless dives up the middle to set up the 40-yard field goal. But in hockey, overtime always ends suddenly. Without warning. A turnover in neutral ice, an odd-man rush off a nasty collision, a clang off a cross bar and behind the goalie — it’s fast and it’s completely unpredictable. The puck changes directions in a flash, faster than you can imagine, and your team goes from having all the numbers and all the momentum at one end of the ice to shaking hands and cleaning out their lockers in about two seconds. There’s nothing close to that kind of tension and drama in any other sport.

The thing, though, that I’ve come to appreciate more about hockey Game Sevens is the grind of the nearly two weeks it takes the two teams to get there. Even if the two teams are in different divisions and don’t have much of a rivalry, by the time they get to Game Seven, they know each other very well. The game is too physical, too demanding, to in-your-face intense. The two teams and all their players have worked up a true distaste for each other by this point. But take a true division rivalry, like with the Stars and Blues who face off in a Game Seven tonight in Dallas for a berth in the Western Conference Championship, and it’s hatred with felonious intent. For the fans, after six games, we’ve come to know the opposition players almost as well as we know our home team. But for the players themselves, there’s an animosity between them that adds another layer to the competition that’s not duplicated by any other sport.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. But as Brent Gilchrist said after a crushing Game Seven defeat to the Edmonton Oilers at Reunion Arena in ’97, you’re never more alive than during a Game Seven.

There’s nothing like it in all of sports.

Go Stars!

Allan

No Mo

No Mo in DallasWe’ve been sort of preparing for this for over a year now. But it’s still really strange when it happens. The Dallas Stars today have announced that they are parting ways with All-Everything Center Mike Modano.

Modano is arguably the greatest American-born hockey player in history. An eight-time NHL All-Star. An eight-time team MVP. He holds 15 franchise records and eleven postseason records. It was Modano who assisted on all four of the Stars’ last goals in their ’99 Stanley Cup series win over the Sabres.

I have a theory about good guys in sports. There are many, many different kinds of characters and personalities in professional sports. There are guys who could pull up a chair with you and your buddies at Whataburger or Chili’s and join in the conversation and you’d never know they were famous. There are some who feel they are far superior to everybody else in the room and openly treat others as if they are less than human. Most are somewhere in between. It’s been my experience in 19-years of sports radio — 14 of that covering professional sports — that hockey players are, by far, the best of the bunch. Down-to-earth. Humble. Regular guys. And Modano was among the best of the best.

He is to the Stars what Staubach was / is to the Cowboys.

Mike Modano-22 years with the StarsI remember a short conversation with Tom Hicks on a January night in 2003, inside the Stars’ dressing room underneath American Airlines Center. The team had just honored Modano with a custom Harley and several other trophies in recognition of his 1,000th point and becoming the Stars’ all-time leader in games played. Hicks told me that Modano was always going to be a Dallas Star. I reminded the team owner that he had once said the same thing about Pudge Rodriguez always going to be a member of the Rangers. Pudge had just signed with the Florida Marlins a few weeks earlier after ten years in Arlington. Hicks looked at me and said, “Modano doesn’t have an idiot for an agent.”

Modano may test the free agency waters later this week. Or he may be finished as an NHL hockey player. We don’t know yet. He’s supposed to address all this with the media tomorrow morning.

Either way, much like Emmitt Smith will always be a Cowboy, Mike Modano will always be a Dallas Star. But I’m betting on Modano retiring. He won’t chase money or immortality with a desperate team in a lousy city. He won’t go play for the Cardinals. Or the Predators. He doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t have anything to prove.

Plus, he’s such a really good guy.

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Texas RangersThe Rangers and Angels open up a three-game series tonight at the Big A. And, even though it’s still June, I’m really, really looking forward to this.

The Rangers have the best 75-game record in team history. They’ve won 13 of their past 14. They have the second-best record in the American League. And they own a 4-1/2 game lead on the Halos in the West. But the Angels have won seven of ten. And they’ve captured the AL West five of the past six seasons.

I know. We haven’t even reached the All Star Game break yet. I know. We’re not supposed to care very much about these games. It’s not time yet.

But this is pretty big, isn’t it?

So far, the Rangers have put up huge numbers and tons of wins against losing teams. But they’ve not beat the good teams. Their record this year against the Yankees and Red Sox and other teams of like calibar does not inspire confidence. Not in me. So I think this series means a lot. Late Thursday night when this little three game set is over, the Rangers can be up 7-1/2 games in the division riding a wave of confidence or the Angels can have grabbed the momentum, having closed the gap to 1-1/2 games. Either the Angels realize that this Rangers team is different or they realize nothing’s changed at all. The results of this series can force the Halos to tighten up. Or to relax. The outcome can push Texas to greater heights or bring them back down to earth. The next three nights can launch the Rangers on a dramatic push to the pennant. Or it can be the beginning of their burial.

Or it might not mean anything much at all.

Peace,

Allan

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