The Grass Isn't Always Greener On The Fairway

Stars' Goligoski Finds Out What It's Like On The Other Side Of The Playoffs
Jessi Pierce

The National Hockey League's new marketing slogan marks the month of April as the start of the season when "history will be made." After seven months and 82 games of slugging it out for a playoff spot, the postseason has arrived with great fanfare.

For the 16 teams that survived the first step in the battle of attrition there is not rest for the weary in their quest to hoist hockey's Holy Grail. For others, April marks the beginning of the long offseason on the links.

For Alex Goligoski, former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman turned Dallas Star, the role of spectator this early in the postseason is something new. Through luck or pluck, Goligoski had historically found himeself on teams that went deep into the postseason.

It started at the University of Minnesota, where he helped lead the Gophers to a Frozen Four appearance his freshman year and two regular season WCHA championships in 2006 and 2007.

"We had some great teams while I was there and we did really well, winning a lot of hockey games and just having a great time doing it," said the Grand Rapids, Minn., native who tallied 98 points in maroon and gold.

Foregoing his senior year, Goligoski joined the Penguins at the start of the 2007-08 season, spending most of his time in the minors and helping lift the Wilkes-Barres Penguins to an Eastern Conference Championship and a second-place run for the Calder Cup.

Goligoski's NHL debut coincided with the Penguins breakout season in 2008-09. With enough games under his belt, Goligoski looked back on the season, etching his name on Lord Stanley's Cup.

"Having my name put on the Stanley Cup is something I have dreamed about since my dad put skates on me at 2," Goligoski said.

"Even better was bringing it back home to share with my family and friends. Once you get to touch it and know that feeling, there's nothing more that you want to do than to win it again."

The 25-year-old soon found himself a fixture on the blue line in the 2009-10 season, collecting 37 points and supporting his team's drive into the playoffs where they fell short in the conference semifinals.

Entering the 2010-11 seaon, Goligoski and the Penguins set their sights on picking up where they left off and position themselves for another run at the postsaeson. But as many young pros eventually learn, hockey, while still a great game, is still a business.

With an injury-ravaged team and four defensemen under long-term contracts, Goligoski was sent packing to the Lone Star State on Feb. 21, to help the fading Stars on the brink of a playoff berth.

"Anytime you get traded to a new team you hope to have the same team chemistry and I definitely have that here with Dallas," said Goligoski. "And ultimately you all have the same goals, no matter what team.

"You want to have that chance to play for the Stanley Cup and battle it out 'til the end. You can only play your game and work hard and hope that it works out."

In the end, the stars didn't align in Dallas as Goligoski and the team fell two points out of eighth place in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs for the third year in a row.

So while his friends and former teammates battle it out against Tampa Bay in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, Goligoski will be working on his short game instead.

"It sounds a bit cliche, but I really do enjoy swinging the golf clubs with my buddies from time to time during the offseason," Goligoski admitted. "I would just prefer to do it at the end of June instead of April."

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