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Stars Schedule 2011: New Look Team, Rookie Head Coach Start With Chicago Twice

DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 29:  Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars during play against the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center on September 29, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars during play against the Florida Panthers at American Airlines Center on September 29, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Not much is known about how a very new Dallas Stars club with the lowest payroll in the NHL will handle an 82-game season, but one thing's fairly certain: no one's expecting much.

rookie head coach, an ownership situation still in doubt, a lot of new faces and Brad Richards' defection to the Rangers - the Dallas Morning News calls it the city's "hockey Cliff Lee" - leaves no doubt that this is a new era of Stars hockey, dare we say "rebuilding."

The team enjoyed a 6-1 preseason, but until a clear direction from new ownership is delivered or conference realignment gets a transitioning franchise out from under the crushing dominance of the current NHL Western Conference, the writers at Defending Big D are largely convinced the Stars will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year, but that promise is on the horizon. Writes one:

[GM] Joe Nieuwendyk did the best he could to offset the loss of Brad Richards by signing guys that would fit more easily into Glen Gulutzan's system. But you don't lose a point producer like Richards on the offensive end and not feel it. And speaking of Gulutzan, I know he had success in the minors as a head coach, inviting comparisons to Ken Hitchcock. But even Hitch went through an adjustment period and had the services of Pat Verbeek and Sergei Zubov, along with an 'in his prime' Mike Modano to help in his first full season.

Things are looking up for the club. But they're not quite there yet."

This week's Stars schedule (all times Central)

Dallas Stars vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Friday 7:30pm CT, FSN-SW 

Dallas Stars at Chicago Blackhawks, Saturday 7:30pm CT, TXA-21

Dallas Stars vs. Phoenix Coyotes, Monday 5:00pm CT, FSN-SW

Dallas Stars vs. St. Louis Blues, Thursday 7:30pm CT, FSN-SW

For more on the Stars, visit Defending Big D. For the complete NHL schedule and news, visit SB Nation Hockey.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.