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My Child Has Been Taken By The Sharks

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 27: Ty Dellandrea #10 of the Dallas Stars is congratulated by Max Domi #18 after scoring a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on May 27, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Most of the time, when children lose their teeth, it's an exciting thing. You marvel at their crooked smile and hear the air whistling through the gap when they speak. They are growing! The lost tooth is a badge of honor. But my children are not given such graces. When they lose their front teeth, people say things like, "That doesn't seem normal," "Grown men shouldn't be losing teeth," and "Professional hockey players who are older than you are not your children." But people say a lot of things.

I still remember the day that my son, bottom-six Stars forward Ty Dellandrea, hard-launched the loss of his tooth. It was a Saturday, and the 2022–23 NHL season had recently gotten underway. After playing only two games in the season prior—one regular-season and one playoff game—it seemed like Delly had survived the preseason and was here to stay! Life was good, and Twitter was not yet called X. I opened the app to see a new photo posted by the Dallas Stars account. It was Dellandrea! One of his central incisors was missing, but he looked very refined, if I do say so myself.

There are some people whose auras benefit from the loss of a tooth. For the most part, hockey players are a part of this exclusive group, right next to school-aged children who have suddenly developed a lisp. In the case of Dellandrea, his dental destruction led to his adoption, by me, as my special child. It also coincided with the start of his best season to date. That's not saying a whole lot, because Dellandrea is still just 23 years old and has only substantially played three seasons in the NHL, typically on the fourth line. Still, he ended up playing in all 82 games that season, accumulating a total of 28 points, which is more than most mothers can say about their children.

I even got to see one of his nine regular-season goals in person when the Stars played in Newark. I dragged along two of my friends, both of whom were rooting for the home team. After a scoreless first period, Dellandrea put Dallas on the board with a tip-in early in the second.

"My child scored a goal!" I told my friends. They buried their faces into their hands. Then, the Devils announcer read off the goal, completely butchering Dellandrea's name. Important note: The Stars won that game, 4-1.

I'm recounting all of this in an effort to remember the good times. Since the tail end of last year's playoffs, when Dellandrea had a crucial, redemptive two-goal performance after being a healthy scratch, he hasn't seen much luck with the Stars. Despite his outsized off-ice presence (so much so that his teammates thought he could be a captain one day), Dellandrea couldn't break out of his role as a fringe checking-line guy in this past season. He fluctuated in and out of the lineup, playing only 42 games during the regular season. With other young options like offseason acquisition Sam Steel and promising newcomer Mavrik Bourque pounding at the door, head coach Pete DeBoer didn't need to put his trust in Dellandrea.

Losing Dellandrea is something I have been bracing myself for quite a while. When the Stars were trying to trade for Chris Tanev in February, I prepared for the worst. “Yes, Chris Tanev is good,” I said to the Void. “But have you considered that I might die?” To my great surprise, the Void heeded my call. The Stars made it through the trade deadline without leaving a single duckling behind. Jake Oettinger, Dellandrea's best friend and former roommate, even had time to debut his new goalie mask, which featured an illustration of my vulnerable child in all his glory. But, unfortunately, a mask is not a legally binding no-movement clause.

On Wednesday afternoon, my child was sent away. That is, Dellandrea was finally traded, his destination being the sunny rebuild of San Jose. This is not the first time I have lost one of my own to the Bay Area. Last year, I saw former Stars forward Jacob Peterson traded to the Sharks, and he has languished in the AHL ever since. I'm a little more hopeful for Dellandrea. As a former first-round pick, he will receive more chances to prove himself, and the potential is certainly there. With the deep bench of the Stars, there weren't enough minutes to go around, and it seemed he'd lost some trust on defensive mistakes. In the end, I want what's best for my child, even if it means letting him move far away.

In California, he'll be joined by the likes of Barclay Goodrow, who, like him, will make the shift from a Stanley Cup contender to a roster that might struggle to win a Calder Cup. On a young Sharks team desperate for scorers, and with Macklin Celebrini's star potential, perhaps there's a chance for Dellandrea to build himself up as not only more of an offensive force, but also a leader of men. Who can say? They grow up so fast.

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