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Before the Stars’ training camp was halted by a coronavirus outbreak that included six players and two staff members, the team’s training camp lacked much intrigue.

The team’s leading scorer was hurt. The top two goaltenders hadn’t taken the ice. There was one new offseason addition. The coaching staff was back intact. For the most part, the Stars who practiced three times before COVID-19 paused camp and delayed the start of the season were the Stars the hockey world had seen last year.

On the periphery of the lineup, a couple of spots looked up for grabs, but given their usage last week, Jason Robertson and Nick Caamano appear to have won the fourth-line winger roles. So instead of position battles for roster spots, the Stars have battles to get on the taxi squad.

The taxi squad is a 4-6 player group (requiring at least one goalie) that will travel and practice with the team and be available to fill in. Players on the taxi squad do not have to quarantine to join the NHL roster, making their inclusion into games a seamless one. They get paid their AHL salary while on the taxi squad and would have to pass through waivers (if not exempt) to get there.

The Stars have an idea of whom they want to include on the taxi squad, but there are still many unknowns for the team’s roster construction.

When does the team put Stephen Johns on long-term injured reserve —
(during training camp or during the regular season)? Which players are impacted by COVID-19 during training camp? Are there any more injuries that would affect regular-season availability? Does the delayed start to the regular season allow the Stars more flexibility with the salary cap?

Given the factors still up in the air, let’s look at a couple of different scenarios for who is on the taxi squad. Rosters are due Tuesday afternoon.

Scenario 1
The Stars opt not to put Johns on LTIR until the start of the season, which would allow them to use his $2.35 million cap hit during the season — potentially for a trade deadline acquisition — instead of training camp. In this situation, the Stars would fill the roster with 20 players instead of the 23-man maximum.

To get to 20 players, the Stars could waive defensemen Taylor Fedun and Joel Hanley and reassign Robertson. While Robertson appears to have a step on a job, he is waivers-exempt and carries a cap hit of $795,000. Once Johns is on LTIR, Robertson could easily be recalled once the Stars have more space to do so.

Hanley is probably the player most likely to be claimed by another team, even if teams around the league are dealing with cap crunches. He’s a veteran defenseman who had a decent Stanley Cup Final and is making the league minimum.

That leaves us with a roster that looks like this:

Potential Stars roster
Forwards
Jamie Benn Roope Hintz Denis Gurianov
Joel Kiviranta Jersey Joe Pavelski Alexander Radulov Jersey
Andrew Cogliano Jersey Radek Faksa Blake Comeau Jersey
Justin Dowling Jason Dickinson Jersey Nick Caamano
Defensemen Goaltenders
Esa Lindell John Klingberg Jersey Anton Khudobin
Jamie Oleksiak Miro Heiskanen Jake Oettinger Jersey
Andrej Sekera Mark Pysyk
Injured reserve
Tyler Seguin
Ben Bishop
Stephen Johns
If this is the roster, the taxi squad fills in pretty easily, one would think.

Hanley and Fedun would be on it, as the coaching staff has shown it trusts both players to enter the lineup should they need to. Robertson is a lock if he’s not on the NHL team.

To get us ready for the season and a new alignment of divisions in the NHL, we’re answering five questions about the Dallas Stars for those teams that don’t see them more than twice a year under normal circumstances.

Allow us to introduce you to the Dallas Stars experience.

We should preface all answers with one major caveat: whatever you think is going to happen with Dallas this season, you’ll never see all of it coming. Since the start of the 2018-2019 season, the Stars have:

Drafted an elite defenseman after winning the draft lottery
Hired a coach from the college ranks
Had the team’s captain and top center both publicly called “fucking horseshit” by their own CEO
Eliminated the Nashville Predators in a thrilling overtime in the first round as an underdog
Were eliminated by the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 in double overtime
Started the next season on a 1-7-1 downward spiral
Followed that up with a 14-1-1 stretch
Abruptly fired that coach for conduct unbecoming
Hosted the second-most attended Winter Classic in league history in the league’s first non-traditional market
Hit a 0-4-2 skid and saw the season halted due to COVID-19
Came two wins away from hoisting Lord Stanley — all in a bubble in Edmonton
Removed the interim tag from Rick Bowness
Were the first team to have training camp shuttered due to a COVID-19 outbreak

We never know what the next installation of the Stars saga is going to give us, but we’ll do our best to try to make sense out of this team for those not familiar with them.

1) How would you describe your team’s style of play?
This is the million dollar question for the Stars heading into this season. The last couple of years, they’ve been known as defensive stalwarts with Vezina-caliber goaltending from their tandem. When the league went on pause, then-interim head coach tweaked the system the team played. It looked absolutely awful in the round robin.

But all of a sudden it clicked, and the Stars through a combination of luck and timely goal scoring (GOALS?!) played their way right to the Western Conference crown and a date with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Final. The biggest change was an activation of the blueline. With guys like John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen on the backend, the Stars found a deadly weapon that’s tough to stop. After all, you have to pick your poison when you’ve got two elite defensemen on the ice for more than half the game.

2) What players should opposing fans know the name of – and why?
If you haven’t learned Miro Heiskanen’s name by now, you have been living under a rock. The smooth-skating defenseman in just his second full season in the league has vaunted himself into the Norris discussion. He’s quietly efficient on defense and deadly on offense and can skate as fast as the best in the league.

Roope Hintz and Denis Gurianov represent the next wave of the Stars forward corps. They’ll have heavier responsibilities this season to help contribute offense consistently for a team that struggles with goal scoring in the regular season. Joel Kiviranta made a name for himself in the playoffs, scoring a hat trick as a rookie forward that barely saw any time in the NHL last year. He’s a question mark for Dallas this year and could be an x-factor.

3) Why could your team win the division?
Defensive structure will be what wins Dallas the division (if they can do it.) Having defensive responsibility drilled through them for the last couple of years means that when the blueline does activate, the forwards have a responsibility to cover for them to limit any damage that could be caused being aggressive in the offensive zone. If they can do that consistently, and get another stellar season from Anton Khudobin, the “additions” of Ben Bishop and Tyler Seguin from off-season surgery recoveries at the end of March or early April could put Dallas over the top — and give them some fresh reinforcements for another potential deep playoff run.

4) Why could your team be the caboose of the division?
With the news that the Stars will not start their season on time thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak among the players (six tested positive, along with two staff members), it’s going to come down to what could undo any team this year: health, injuries, and season start.

The Stars are going to have to play an even more compact schedule with at least three games expected to be rescheduled. Also, because their training camp has been halted for the foreseeable future, if they get off to a rocky start, the divisional nature of the schedule this year could sink them before they ever get off the ground.

Tack on the fact that Bishop won’t be available for much of the season and rookie Jake Oettinger is going to be relied upon to help the team earn some wins in this crazy year, it’s easy to see how the Stars could sink out of the playoff picture. But all the way to the bottom, behind the likes of the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings? That would mean some things went epically wrong for Dallas this season.

5) On a scale of baby kitten to Tiger King, what’s the potential of the heated matchup of your team with your new division mates?
Dallas has recent history with the Nashville Predators. Between the playoff elimination and the Winter Classic drama, there could be some fireworks between these two this year once again. This has the highest potential of Tiger King energy of any match-up between the Stars and any new Central division mate this year.

Closely behind that would be the storyline of the Stanley Cup winner and the Stanley Cup runner-up will be written about ad nauseam this season, considering they’ll play each other eight times — more than any other final rematch in a regular season ever before. The tiger versus lion debate to see who is king of the jungle every time these two go head-to-head.

The closest to one another on paper, the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars will be like two lions trying to determine who will be the leader of the pride. Big Lion King energy.

Dallas fans always get irked at how well Chicago Blackhawks fans travel to their home arena under normal circumstances. Tack on having to watch a divisional rival lift a few Cups and some pretty epic tilts between the two, and there’s bound to be some fireworks between these two. It’ll be like watching a lion and a gazelle. The lion will try to pounce and draw first blood early, and the gazelle will try to outsmart and outlast the lion’s attack. Who the gazelle is and who the lion is will change from game to game throughout the season with these two.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and Florida Panthers are rarely seen by the Stars each season, so there’s not much real bad blood here. The Panthers could get interesting, and the Blue Jackets might try to bore the Stars to death, so let’s call these baby kittens with sharp claws that could do a little damage.

Last you have the Detroit Red Wings. They used to be in the same division as the Stars, and the two meet a number of times in the postseason in the 90’s and early 00’s. But with both teams in very different points in the sports team lifecycle, we’d say this matchup would be Paper Tiger soft. The Red Wings might get some pleausre from occasionally punching up when they play the Stars, but we all know who the better team is right now — and as Stars fans know, living in the past only takes you so far in the lean years.

Defenseman Thomas Harley Jersey should find a home there, given the organization’s added belief in his defensive game. Harley is the team’s top prospect and is fulfilling his quarantine requirement after playing for Canada at the World Junior Championship. The Stars could also want Harley playing in the AHL (if allowed) instead of serving as the team’s ninth defenseman in the NHL, but giving Harley time with the NHL team is something the Stars liked doing in Edmonton.

Center Ty Dellandrea Jersey should also make the cut, able to provide a two-way, right-handed center on a team that is lacking in them with Tyler Seguin hurt.

Goaltender Landon Bow is a better option than Colton Point to be the taxi squad goalie.

Taxi squad (Scenario 1)
Ty Dellandrea Taylor Fedun Joel Hanley Jersey
Jason Robertson Jersey Thomas Harley Landon Bow
Scenario 2
The Stars choose to put Johns on LTIR during training camp, meaning Dallas can use his entire $2.35 million until the season starts. After that, though, the Stars can no longer use Johns’ cap hit. Dallas would have minimal flexibility during the season should it do this.

Should the Stars go this route, they would want to maximize the amount of his cap hit used, and potentially with as many bodies as they can. This scenario would mean the Stars do not have to waive Fedun or Hanley, and Robertson can be in the opening night lineup. Instead, by including those three players on the roster, they would use $2.232 million of the available $2.35 million.

That roster looks like this:

Potential Stars roster
Forwards
Jamie Benn Jersey Roope Hintz Jersey Denis Gurianov Jersey
Joel Kiviranta Joe Pavelski Jersey Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano Radek Faksa Jersey Blake Comeau
Nick Caamano Jersey Jason Dickinson Jason Robertson
Justin Dowling Jersey
Defensemen Goaltenders
Esa Lindell Jersey John Klingberg Anton Khudobin Jersey
Jamie Oleksiak Jersey Miro Heiskanen Jersey Jake Oettinger
Andrej Sekera Jersey Mark Pysyk Jersey
Joel Hanley Taylor Fedun Jersey
Injured reserve LTIR
Tyler Seguin Jersey Stephen Johns Jersey
Ben Bishop Jersey
Dellandrea, Harley and Bow would probably still be on the taxi squad, which leaves three spots open. Rhett Gardner appears to have an inside route to one of the jobs. He played last year in the NHL and can fill in on the penalty kill if needed. Joel L’Esperance appears to be the best option of the other forwards since he can provide some offensive punch if the Stars need a center.

That means Riley Tufte, Adam Mascherin, Tanner Kero, Tye Felhaber and Riley Damiani are destined for the AHL.

Could the last spot on the taxi squad belong to Julius Honka Jersey?

Honka would have to be waived to get there, and the best-case scenario for him could be that another team claims him (since he would be on an NHL roster with a chance to play his first NHL game in two years). He has previous NHL experience, and impressed Bowness enough during Wednesday’s scrimmage for the head coach to mention him during his media availability.

It would also be somewhat fitting that in Honka’s return to North America, he was stuck in an endless loop of practice and buried as the No. 10 defenseman in the organization.

Dallas’ other options on the back end are Ben Gleason, Ryan Shea, Jerad Rosburg, Joseph Cecconi and Dawson Barteaux.

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With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, many Stars players have begun to return to Dallas.

Stars general manager Jim Nill said eight to 10 players were already back in Dallas, with a lot more on the way. Players must serve a league-mandated seven-day quarantine with four negative COVID-19 tests before they can join any team activities.

State, provincial and federal health guidelines supersede the NHL’s rules, but since the United States and Texas do not have stricter guidelines than the league, Stars players will follow the NHL’s protocol, “whether you’re coming from Europe or you’re coming from Minnesota or somewhere or New York,” Nill said.

One potential issue in getting players back to Dallas could be the new COVID-19 variant in the United Kingdom, as many flights from Europe to the United States connect through London’s Heathrow Airport. Other airports are available, of course, but there are limited flights during a busy Christmas travel season.

More moves on the way? Because of the taxi squad and the Stars’ potential use of long-term injured reserve, Dallas could find itself with more cap space to work with to acquire another player.

“We’re working on that right now,” Nill said. “We’ve got some different options. Every time you make a move, it affects something else. We’re figuring out these taxi squads, we’re running different numbers and see where things fit. We have different options, either to add players, or wait and add somebody later when the season gets going, or have you got enough in-house right now to keep us going?”

Nill acknowledged that Corey Perry Jersey remained available, but said the priority would be finding another center with Tyler Seguin Jersey hurt.

“We’re looking at a bunch of different options,” Nill said. “It comes down to the cap number, what the players want and what the expectations are and we have to offer. It’s part of the negotiations.”

In the midst of a pandemic that has ravaged national teams and played hell with international travel, it’s a kind of a miracle that the 2021 World Junior Championships will happen at all.

Pulling together the world’s most prestigious junior tournament is a big challenge even in a good year. In late 2020, with COVID-19 raging largely uncontrolled in several of its constituent nations, the hurdles are even higher.

It helps, no doubt, that Edmonton is this year’s co-host, along with Red Deer. The province of Alberta provided the Western Conference bubble that gave the NHL an improbably successful Stanley Cup Playoffs stage earlier this year. And it’s heartening to note that since they’ve entered the Western Canada bubble, there are no new cases of COVID among players on any of the 10 participating teams.

But individual squads still have to fight the viral threat in their own way. Martin Merk shared some of the details in a story for the International Ice Hockey Federation website:

During the camps on home ice the ten teams already have their first big battle – against the coronavirus. Several players will miss the World Juniors due to Covid-19 infections.

Canada was the first country to start with the selection camp already in November with a large roster to choose from but saw the ice time shortened due to positive Covid-19 tests. The team and staff were in self-isolation for two weeks and re-opened the camp on 8 December. Defencemen Matthew Robertson, Mason Millman and Daemon Hunt and forwards Ridly Greig and Xavier Simoneau were sent home before camp resumed for health reasons and according to the return-to-play protocol.

Dual citizen and Dallas Stars defense prospect Thomas Harley will skate for a loaded Team Canada in the tournament, which will open – on time and on schedule, as it were – on Christmas Day. He’ll play alongside some of the hottest NHL prospects anywhere, including second and third overall picks Quinton Byfield and Kirby Dach. Harley, whose season with the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads is on COVID-related hold until January 23, talked about the outsized impact of training for a pre-tournament round with Russia during a post-practice media call:

“It’s huge. Our practices lately have been pretty intense. We’re trying to get them as game-like as possible, but, you know, nothing compares to the game, especially with a team like the Russians. They’re real fast, real smart, real skilled.

“So hopefully we can get our feet under us in the first and, you know, just remember how to play hockey in the second and third.”

If you plan to spend some holiday downtime watching some quality hockey, the NHL Network is broadcasting every game live. Here are a few links to get you started:

The IIHF’s complete game schedule
Broadcast and streaming info for the USA and Canada, courtesy of The Sporting News
Video highlights from exhibition and tournament games

Potential free agent targets could be Carl Soderberg, Derrick Brassard and Erik Haula.

Effect of quarantine on roster moves: The week-long quarantine requirement will force teams to make more offseason moves quickly. There are teams (Tampa Bay and Vegas) that need to unload pieces to be cap-compliant and there are free agents (Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund) looking for a job.

For example, if a team wants to have a player available for training camp on Jan. 3, it likely would have to acquire him by this weekend, assuming two days for travel and then the seven days in quarantine. Any later than that, players would miss part of training camp — they can’t skate during quarantine — ahead of a condensed and quick regular season.

What about trades?

Trades between American and Canadian teams are allowed, but the quarantine requirements will apply. (For now, let’s see what the pandemic looks like at the trade deadline in April.) That means American teams could trade for a player and not have him join them for another nine days. In a condensed schedule, that could be five or six games, roughly 10% of the season.

Canadian teams would lose an extra week.

“The trades can happen, but that’s when the health protocol takes over,” Nill said. “If it’s a two-week quarantine for Player X going to Canada, you’ll have to follow the rules of the government and the health system.”

Because of that lost time, would trade values drop since the acquired asset wouldn’t play as much?

“It’ll all depend on supply and demand and injuries,” Nill said. “You could start the year wanting to get somebody and negotiating with them, and then all of a sudden, you get three injuries and ‘You know what, we need him now.’ It changes fast.”

Johns update: Nill said the Stars will wait until defenseman Stephen Johns Jersey returns to Dallas to see what his status is for the upcoming season. Johns did not play in the final 23 postseason games in Edmonton because he did not feel comfortable playing given his history with head injuries.

“I’m waiting to hear from his medical people and from Stephen, just see where he’s at,” Nill said. “When the players come back and they do medicals and physicals, that’s when we sit down and figure everything out, see where guys are at.”

Johns missed the 2018-19 season with post-traumatic headaches and was a Bill Masterton Jersey Trophy finalist after he returned to the lineup in January. Johns, 28, played in 17 regular-season games and four playoff games for Dallas last season.

The Stars have enough depth defensively if Johns does not play. Taylor Fedun Jersey and Joel Hanley Jersey filled in for him during the playoffs, the Stars signed Mark Pysyk Jersey in free agency and have prospect Thomas Harley Jersey if desired. All three players could fill in on the third pair with Andrej Sekera Jersey.

Rest of the roster: Nill said he anticipates every other player being healthy enough to participate in training camp besides Seguin (hip) and goaltender Ben Bishop Jersey (knee), who underwent surgeries that will keep them out for most of the season.

No Stars players have told Nill they want to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Players have until Sunday to do so.

“Not that I’ve heard yet,” Nill said. “They still have some time yet, but nobody has contacted me.”

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Over the course of the franchise, the Dallas Stars have had six different captains. Each chosen to uphold the values of the team as well as exhibit leadership both on and off the ice. Here’s a comprehensive history of every captain the Stars have had:

Mark Tinordi
The first player to don the captain C on a Dallas Stars jersey was Mark Tinordi Jersey. The Canadian-born defenseman was the previous captain of the Minnesota North Stars and was first named to the role for the 1991-92 season.

The Stars kept him in that role as they made the transition from Minnesota to Dallas. However, the next season (1994-95) he was traded to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Kevin Hatcher Jersey.

In his time as captain of the Dallas Stars, Tinordi appeared in 61 games and recorded 24 points. Tinordi retired prior to the 1999-00 season after being drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the expansion draft.

Neal Broten
After the Stars traded away Tinordi, centerman Neal Broten Jersey took over the role. His time as captain was short-lived however as he was traded to the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 27, 1995. Prior to being named captain, Broten spent 12 seasons playing with the North Stars and one season with Dallas.

Neal Broten
1998 Season: Neal Broten with the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)
Broten is an Olympic gold medalist. He won this gold medal as part of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team who made history in Lake Placid in the event hockey fans know well as the Miracle On Ice.

Broten was also the first American-born player to score more than 100 points in a season and is one of two NHL players to have won an NCAA championship, an Olympic gold medal, and the Stanley Cup, the other being Ed Belfour Jersey.

In his time as captain with the Stars, he appeared in just 17 games and recorded four points. Broten retired from the NHL in 1997, and in 1998 the Stars retired his No. 7. He was later inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000.

Derian Hatcher
After the Stars traded Broten, Derian Hatcher Jersey was named captain. Hatcher served as captain from 1995 to 2003 before he signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the summer of 2003.

In his time as captain, Hatcher appeared in 591 games and recorded 42 goals and 174 assists. In 1999 he also led the team to its first and only Stanley Cup Championship and was the first American-born captain to do so.

He served as captain for the longest period of time of any Stars player in franchise history serving eight seasons. (Jamie Benn Jersey is on the cusp of tying Hatcher as the 2020-21 season will be his eighth-season as captain). Since retiring in 2008, Hatcher was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.

Mike Modano
After Hatcher signed with the Red Wings, Dallas found themselves without a captain, but not for long. In the summer of 2003, the team named Mike Modano Jersey, arguably the best American-born player to ever skate on NHL ice, their new captain.

Related: The 10 Greatest American Hockey Players Ever

Modano played in seven All-Star games, won silver at the 2002 Olympics, and was part of the Stanley Cup-winning team in 1999.

Mike Modano Dallas Stars
Mike Modano, Dallas Stars, 2004 (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)
He holds the record amongst all Stars players in games played, goals, assists, points, shots, game-winning goals, the list goes on and on.

Modano was one of the most influential players in the NHL during his career and helped shape the modern Stars franchise. He truly embodied everything it meant to wear a Stars jersey throughout his career with the team even without the C on his sweater.

His time as captain came to an end in 2006 simply because while playing in that role his production declined and the team made the decision that he was better off in the alternate captain role.

In 2010 Modano signed with the Red Wings as a free agent but returned to Dallas in 2011 to retire with the team. In 2014 the Stars retired his No. 9 and in the same year, he was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame.

Brenden Morrow
After Modano was demoted to the alternate captain role in 2006, Brenden Morrow Jersey took over the captain role.

In his time as captain, Morrow appeared in 384 games and recorded 123 goals. Morrow was known to play with such intensity and passion and that’s what made him such a great captain for the team.

Morrow is also in the top-10 in games played, goals scored, assists, and points in the Stars franchise records. While Morrow didn’t have the best stat numbers in franchise history, his dedication to the team and the work he put into his game spoke volumes to the captain he was.

Brenden Morrow
Brenden Morrow with Dallas (HermanVonPetri/Flickr)
He upheld the values of grit, determination, and class that are expected of all Stars players but especially of captains. Morrow had a great international career as well. He’s an Olympic gold medalist, World Champion, and he won a silver medal at the 1999 World Juniors.

Morrow’s career with Dallas came to an end in 2013 as he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He did return to the team on a one-day contract to retire with the Stars in 2016.

Jamie Benn
After Morrow was traded, the team named 24-year-old Jamie Benn to the captain role. Benn who has been in the organization since 2009 is one of the best captains the team has ever seen. Much like Morrow, he might not always be the top producer on the team, but he makes up for it in his character and leadership.

Jamie Benn Dallas Stars
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
He went from being a young player who was almost always overlooked and being a fifth-round draft pick, to being the heart of the Dallas team. He didn’t get there easily either and had to work tirelessly at his game. He’s put in the work constantly and it has paid off.

Every season, Benn seems to be constantly improving his game and leadership skills and has constantly shown up for his teammates both on and off the ice.

Benn is a World Junior champion, an Art Ross Trophy winner, and an Olympic gold medalist. With Benn as captain, the Stars are in good hands when it comes to leadership, and that’s really all an organization could ask of a captain.

While the Stars haven’t had a very long or extensive list of captains, each one has contributed to the organization both on and off the ice to get the team to where they are now.