|Julius Honka (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
Even the most casual observer of the Texas Stars lineup will have noticed a gap in the blue line as Julius Honka has not dressed for the club since April 3rd. 100 Degree Hockey can now report that Honka is back home in Finland, on leave from the team due to a personal family matter, and will not return this season. There were no further details given regarding the nature of the leave.
Among other notable lineup absences, Jordan Kawaguchi is done for the season after sustaining an injury in just his third pro game. He underwent successful surgery and is not with the team, instead focusing on his finals at the University of North Dakota. He is expected to be ready for the start of Dallas's main camp in September, if not before.
- The decision not to have a traditional playoff or even a tournament was about the mental break as much as economic. Most teams have been running things like a season-long road trip in terms of who players can interact with and the certainty of knowing the season had an end date was a 'light at the end of the tunnel' feeling.
- If Dallas does make the playoffs, Texas expects to send some players to Dallas as black aces, but certainly not as many as in prior years. The nature of the taxi squad set up means that the majority of players who would have been called up are already on the taxi squad.
- With six games remaining, the entire Texas squad is now vaccinated. The team didn't have any games cancelled through the season (so far) due to their own positive exposure, and a lot of credit goes to Neil Graham who had a strict "helmets off, masks on" policy for all team members. Even during intermissions in the locker room, masks go on the second they hit the room. It's a credit to the team's discipline especially with how badly hit so many other teams have been this year.