DALLAS — Willie Desjardins didn’t bring his skates to Dallas with him.
Still nursing a surgically-repaired hip back to health, the 58-year-old coach of the Vancouver Canucks didn’t even watch the morning skate. Instead, he held court with reporters and mulled around the event level at American Airlines Center as he exchanged stories about his time in Dallas.
More often than not those stories where interrupted, momentarily, by a various Stars personnel stopping by to say hello. Equipment managers, locker room attendants, assistant coaches — they all stopped by to share pleasantries.
“Dallas is good to me,” Desjardins said. “I started here, so it’s always a special place. Lot of the players, we battled together, and I’ve seen a lot of the Stars when they were young. There’s always something special here, and I like the players on this team — a lot of good characters, and I have a lot or respect for them.”
And Desjardins was good to Dallas.
In four years with the organization — two as an associate head coach in the NHL and two leading the Texas Stars — he helped groom and develop the Stars future.
Of the players dressed, 11 had played for Desjardins when he was the head coach in the AHL or the associate head coach in the NHL.
If you needed any more proof of Desjardins impact, take a glance at the banners hanging in the Cedar Park Center.
While past pleasantries benefited Desjardins and the Stars, Thursday’s game ended negatively for the former Texas coach.
Dallas battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period and forced overtime. Then, during 3-on-3 overtime, Stars captain Jamie Benn fired home a wrist shot to clinch the victory for Dallas.
Dallas started fast and fired the first 10 shots of the game, but Alexandre Burrows scored on a penalty shot for Vancouver midway through the first period. The Stars countered on Patrick Sharp’s wrist shot that puzzled Ryan Miller, couldn’t stop Alexander Edler from reclaiming the lead for Vancouver.
The Canucks added to their lead 10 seconds into the third period on a goal by Radim Vrbata.
Jason Demers’ shot with 10:06 remaining cut in Vancouver’s lead. Radek Faksa nearly picked up his first NHL goal on the play as he screened Miller.
Dallas tied the game on a similar play with 4:35 remaining. This time John Klingberg’s point shot was tipped by Sharp, who scored his second goal of the game.