If it seems the Dallas Stars have come out of nowhere recently in the NHL, it’s very much because they have. Heading into Thanksgiving, the Stars were tied with four others at the bottom of the Central Division with 23 points. Dallas had an average start to the year with a 11-10-1 record in its first 22 games, and was coming out of a very middling month of November.
In the five games since, the Stars have gone on a five-game win streak that has catapulted them into a playoff spot. As of Monday, the Stars sit in the top wild card spot in the Western Conference with 33 points, as they are within five points of the top of the Central.
A lot has gone right for the Stars during this streak, tied for the NHL’s current longest alongside the Los Angles Kings and the Montreal Canadiens. The one constant, and maybe the thing that started it all at the end of the day, is a pair of yellow laces.
Why are the Stars wearing yellow laces?
On Nov. 24, the Stars retired the number of longtime franchise great Jere Lehtinen, a forward with three Selke trophies to his name along with a Stanley Cup ring. Lehtinen was famous for wearing yellow skate laces during his 14-year NHL career in Dallas, a unique uniform quirk in a sport where even jersey tucks are no longer permitted.
Other players have worn yellow laces, like Alex Ovechkin, Jaromir Jagr, or Pavel Bure. The tradition stems from previous generations of European players, who were fond of wax laces that had just one color: yellow. The variants of wax lace color are vast nowadays, but the tradition for some European players to honor their countrymen remains strong in today’s NHL.
Fast-forward to today, and the Stars took on the yellow laces as a tribute to Lehtinen’s career with the team. The laces were supposed to be a one-game only deal, but after the Stars beat the Calgary Flames 6-4 that night, they kept them going through the end of November.
The yellow laces then went 2-0 after the Stars shut out the Las Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 on Nov. 28, and so a tradition was born.
Fans were all in favor of the move to keep the yellow laces through the Stars’ next three wins, which culminated in a 7-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday evening. Even the Stars’ Twitter account embraced the move by changing its icon to a green background with yellow laces.
The laces aren’t the only reason the Stars have a five-game win streak, right?
Right now, the Stars are playing some of their best hockey of the season. Ben Bishop has pulled his weight in net over this streak, with a .925 save percentage in his four games played since Thanksgiving. Even backup Kari Lehtonen posted a .926 save percentage in his start Sunday on the tail end of a back-to-back in Colorado.
The real backbone of this streak so far has been the team’s scoring, which has racked up 23 goals over the course of the five-game win streak. Tyler Seguin, the team’s top scorer this year with 27 points, has five goals — including a hat trick — and two assists during this span.
Also on fire at the moment is 23-year-old Radek Faksa who, much like Seguin, is on a scoring tear at just the right time. Faksa also has five goals and two assists, including a hat trick the night after Seguin’s, that have helped keep the Stars scoring at a rapid pace. With 16 points so far on the season, Faksa is on pace to shatter his career-high set last year with a possible 50-point season in his third year in the league.
The yellow laces are clearly helping the Stars, at least from a mental standpoint. Hockey’s rich history of traditions and superstitions fueling winning is ingrained into the sport’s culture. There’s a reason the Philadelphia Flyers broke out “God Bless America” instead of the national anthem to snap a nine-game losing streak this weekend, or that Nashville Predators’ fans throw catfish before big games. Hockey attracts this weird voodoo atmosphere, and that the Stars decided to keep the yellow laces after just a few wins is part of that mysticism.
The Stars will no doubt keep the yellow laces until their streak runs its course, and maybe it will stay a tradition in much of the same way the New York Islanders’ “Yes!” chants have. For however long the yellow laces last in Dallas, we’ll enjoy this fun bit of hockey tradition at its best.