Commentary

The Dallas Stars were not a surprise

The Stars were last in the Pacific last year, but we all should have seen this coming

Originally Published: January 20, 2011
By Craig Button | Special to ESPN Insider
Getty ImagesKari Lehtonen's good health has allowed him to regain his timing and elite athleticism.

The Dallas Stars may be the NHL's surprise team of 2010-11 because low expectations (last in the Pacific Division in 2009-10) have been greatly surpassed (currently first in the Pacific with a record of 28-13-5).

But were the expectations too low? Did everyone underestimate the Stars? Or should we have viewed Dallas more favorably as an organization that has been a perennial top-four team in the Western Conference and knows how to construct a winning team?

Yes, they had stumbled on some difficult times as they transitioned away from franchise cornerstones Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov, but the pieces that have carried them to the top of the division have been in place for some time now.

Quick turnarounds in hockey are as rare as the child prodigy who graduates high school at 14. While the results may appear to be quick, the reality is that the building blocks of success have been being laid for quite some time. And that's precisely the case in Dallas.

Craig Button contributes regularly to ESPN Insider. Since 1988, Button has worked in the NHL as a scout and later as director of scouting with the Minnesota North Stars, becoming director of player personnel after the franchise relocated to Dallas. He later served as vice president and general manager of the Calgary Flames. He currently works as an analyst for the NHL Network.