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It's been a turbulent off-season for the Dallas Stars.

They have a new coach, a new general manager, a new logo, and a new captain.

'[It's] a whole new team, whole new makeup,' said defenseman Trevor Daley. 'Jerseys are different, everything is different around here. Dressing room looks different. It feels like I'm on a new team.'

'I have not seen in a very long time this level of enthusiasm, excitement, energy for what we have going here and for what's to come,' said play-by-play announcer Ralph Strangis, who is beginning his 24th season with the Stars.

They're even playing in a new division, so instead of making several West Coast trips during the season, the farthest they'll have to go for a divisional game is Winnipeg, which is in the same time zone.

'Yeah it's going to be a bit different,' said center Jamie Benn, the team's new captain. 'Obviously nice for us because we don't have to change time zones.'

But what this team really needs are new results. The Stars haven't made the playoffs in five years.

'We certainly believe we have the personnel to do it,' said left wing Ray Whitney. 'But again, saying you're going to make the playoffs this early is just an unfair statement by any team... except the Chicago Blackhawks, maybe.'

One other thing that's different from last year is the fact that the season is starting on time. Last year they didn't get going until January because of the NHL lockout.

This year they'll play all 82, and the first of those 82 is Thursday night.

And the first game is always special.

'It's the start of something really new, something really exciting,' said new head coach Lindy Ruff. 'I don't look at it like just another game.'

Management did everything it could to fix the Stars in the off-season. Starting Thursday, it's on the players.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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