Last week, in this space, I buried the Stars. Down 3-0 to the mighty Red Wings, the Stars didn't have much shine. At least, I didn't see any. (I don't think I was alone in that thinking.) The Wings were too skilled, too quick, too good.
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989. The following year, he beat the Stars to Dallas (by three years), taking over as the editor of Beckett Hockey Monthly. When the Stars finally did arrive in Big D, he hosted a weekly hockey radio show and tried (unsuccessfully) to convert ESPN's Skip Bayless to the greatest game on ice.
In 1996, Hradek left Dallas, but not the Stars. Relocating back to the New York area, he became a part-time pro scout for the club, seeing more than 100 NHL/AHL games for each of the next two seasons. The scouting gig was a great learning experience, offering a different view of the game.
Hradek grew up in Tuckahoe, N.Y., about a 40-minute train ride from New York City. Despite the proximity to the Rangers, Hradek embraced the Islanders when the expansion franchise debuted in 1972. Eight years later, he was part of the sellout crowd at the Nassau Coliseum that witnessed the Islanders' first Stanley Cup championship.