Journeyman Cracknell earns his keep with Stars

The Dallas Stars’ annual dads trip is always a special moment for players.

It’s a chance for fathers to travel with their sons, and rekindle memories of youth hockey while giving back a little bit to the mentors that helped shape the players as people. The fact the Stars won back-to-back games with their dads in attendance was also a positive moment during a disappointing season.

For Adam Cracknell, it held a bit more meaning.

The 31-year-old forward has been a journeyman throughout his career, never spending an entire season with one team. He hasn’t moved into Gary “Suitcase” Smith territory, but Cracknell’s career ledger is a winding journey from places like Las Vegas and Quad City to Peoria, Edmonton, and Vancouver before he finally settled in Dallas this season.

With all that movement, be it up-and-down from the AHL, or traded from one NHL team to another, Cracknell had never been able to go on a dads trip. He had gone on a moms trip earlier in his career, but this past week was the first time Peter Cracknell was able to travel with his son and watch Adam proudly with the rest of the fathers.

And if everything goes according to plan, the Cracknell family will get another dad’s trip next season after Dallas signed Cracknell to a one-year contract extension on Wednesday for $675,000 -- a slight raise from his $600,000 salary this season.

"I'm where I want to be. It's a great team and a great organization. It was a battle off the start (for a job),” Cracknell said. “I did my job and I don't stop working. It's what got me the extension.”

Throughout the season, Cracknell has always maintained that ignores the daily shuffle on the depth chart. It’s better for a player’s mental health to think with a one-step-at-a-time focus, but Cracknell did admit on Wednesday that it feels good to have a home already for next season.

“Dallas gave me an opportunity this summer. I didn't know where I was going to be, but I was always planning to be here and that was my mindset going in,” Cracknell said. “The next step's always getting an extra deal. Going into summer it's a great feeling going into the season and a little more jump to my game right now."

Cracknell has been one of the few players to outperform their stock this season (Devin Shore is one of the others). He has a career-high with seven goals and is one point away from a career-best in points (11).

The Stars are a better team when Cracknell is in the lineup. The forward, who has played both wing and center, is amongst the team leaders for plus/minus and other underlying possession stats.

“He's done a good job managing the puck and even on the penalty kill has been good for us,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “He's been a surprise in the season for us, and I think (the contract is) well deserved."

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro.

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