Monthly Archives: April 2013

Blow It Up, Pt. 2

Tomorrow morning, the Joe Nieuwendyk era will officially come to an end in Dallas as the Stars introduce new GM Jim Nill (former assistant GM of the hated Red Wings). The timing was a bit bad—the Stars seemed distracted the entire game, so maybe the leak shocked them as it did the fans—not to mention surprising. Well, it was surprising to me. I thought Joe would be around for another year since he hasn’t had full cap power for a full season at all in his tenure, but Tom Gaglardi thought otherwise.

In Jim Nill, the Stars gain a tremendous GM. He’s experienced, and he’s already scouted for Detroit so he should be very in the know about this year’s draft class. Bonus: teams have been trying to pry him away from Detroit for YEARS. He must have liked what he saw in the Stars if he was willing to leave a place he’s been for almost 19 years. This is really exciting, guys.

Overall, I think Joe did a decent job with what he was given. Situation-wise, he was constantly screwed. This was the first season that he didn’t have salary cap issues, and it was a shortened season. Had it been a full season, perhaps the Stars would have made the playoffs. But we’ll never know. Joe might even have been allowed to finish his contract had Jim Nill turned us down. Who knows?

I have to give mad props to Tom Gaglardi in all of this. He’s being very aggressive and showing himself to be a man with a plan. I like that he’s smart, and I think it bodes well for the team moving forward. He knew he wanted Nill, so he went for it…and here we are.

As for Joe Nieuwendyk, he gained some valuable experience and I expect him to be back as some other team’s GM after taking off a year. Florida and Calgary (two other former JN teams) will more than likely be looking to hire in the near future.  Gaglardi did give Joe the option to stay in Dallas in a reassigned role, which is great if a lot awkward (seriously, I knew as soon as we hired him that it would awkward if his stint didn’t work out).

I have a lot of optimism for this team moving forward. I know I’ve said that after every lost season and it gets pretty repetitious after not making the playoffs for five years, but I’ve got a good feeling about this most recent shakeup. Everything’s changing—players, GMs, coaches, uniforms… This is going to be a new Stars team, and I can’t wait to see them.

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Don’t Stop Believin’

4.12.13 and now I’m visualizing the entire hockey team singing Journey

“It stinks, really, because you don’t want your heart broken. Yet, it’s the price you pay for loving this team.” –Mike Heika

Who would have guessed that the Stars and Jackets would be battling to take the final playoff spot from the Red Wings? I sure wouldn’t have. It’s just one of those bizarre things that’s come about that I can’t quite believe but I don’t really mind.

After that win against the Canucks last night, it’s hard not to believe in this Stars team. It was a real, true test after the loss in Chicago, and they passed with flying colors. They’re not the most talented team in the world, but they have just enough talent to get by on.

The rest is belief. Belief that they can do this. They are good enough.

4.18.13 winning

The wins have come because the Stars have adopted an attitude that has been severely lacking the past few seasons when they fell short of a playoff spot. At this point in the season the past two seasons, we were subjected to a disinterested Stars team that didn’t want it bad enough. In 2011, they were given a gift: beat Minnesota (a team whose number they always seemed to have) and you’re in. They blew it. The way they played in that game, they deserved what they got. Then last year, they went 0-5-0 in the final stretch when they had the opportunity to even win the Pacific.

At this point, a meltdown could very well happen. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: the Stars have a tough road ahead and they probably won’t be good enough. But despite the daunting task, this team we’re seeing is different than the underachievers in past seasons. They believe in themselves, and I think the fans do too.

Last night’s game showed just how far they’ve come. They were the better team last night and did their damage in the third period the way they deserved to. The young guys stepped up and showed beautiful growth that we might look back on in a few years and grin at. It was a team effort as they continued to surprise and inspire.

Even if the Stars implode and don’t make the postseason, this has been a lot of fun. It really has.

We Are Who We Are

4.9.13 after Fiddler's goal

It’s easy to say that the Stars need to lose all their remaining games to get a better draft pick, but you have to admit that this recent streak has been pretty fun to watch. The Stars are, for yet another year, hovering by the 8th playoff spot. They probably won’t make it, but the tenacity and leadership the Stars have shown lately have got to benefit the team in the future.

And it’s been a lot of fun.

The Stars have basically blown their chance at an amazing top 5, NHL-ready draft pick, but instead are instilling a “never say die” attitude in a lineup that everyone, including diehards like myself, wrote off after the trade deadline. It’s just so bizarre to think about—who would have thought that the Stars would actually get better after trading away Captain Morrow, Derek Roy, and the great Jaromir Jagr? Not me.

They’ve had their issues, oh yes, but they make up for lack of skill with great leadership (especially from Ray Whitney, Eric Nystrom, and Vernon Fiddler) and a winning attitude. They’re not giving up as easily as they did previously this season. Earlier, when bad things happened they spelled the beginning of an ugly meltdown that may or may not have cost them the game. Things seem calmer now (except maybe in the end of the San Jose game and in the Chicago game, but still) and blows feel less devastating. I really feel like this Stars team believes in themselves because no one else does. And like I said, they still might not make the playoffs despite all this.

But this attitude they’ve adopted during the win streak is the kind that needs to be a mainstay in the years to come. It’s great to instill it in the young guys name and show them the importance of tenacity and not giving up. The chemistry this team has shown is drastically and remarkably improved from what it was earlier in the season. When you look at the team, they seem to be having a lot of fun out there, and isn’t that kind of the whole point?

The pressure’s been growing gradually, and now it’s at an all-time high this season. Sure the Stars dropped one on Monday (but it was to the best team in the league, which is COMPLETELY OKAY), but if they don’t let it faze them too much and continue to do their thing against the Canucks tonight, it means they can continue this miraculous march to the playoffs.

And it’s Sergei Zubov Night. The best Russian defenseman in all of our hearts is being honored in tonight’s 20th anniversary team. What better way to honor Zubie than to win with him in the building? He never got a proper send-off, so tonight should be pretty special.

Leggo.

Blow It Up

Game 1 without Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy is in the books, and it went exactly the way most of us expected it to—the young Stars played with a lot of heart but couldn’t find a way to beat the top Ducks. And let’s be honest, the game could have been a lot worse than it was.

In fact, the first period was tremendously entertaining, as we saw a physical Stars team take on the Ducks. My personal favorite moment was when Aaron Rome checked Daniel Winnik, who then woozily went back to the bench (I just about died laughing at Winnik’s disorientation).  The Stars were gutsy, even if they weren’t that good. If they play with that kind of tenacious mentality with a skilled team, they’ll go far.

I was really happy to see new addition Lane MacDermid score in his Stars debut for a few reasons. One, is that he has a reputation as an enforcer, and it’s nice that he’s showing depth beyond that role. And two, I’m determined to defend the returns in the Roy and Jagr trades (especially the latter) because those players are garnering unnecessary hate from disappointed fans. I want MacDermid, Cody Payne, and Kevin Connauton to be the best players ever just to disprove the haters.

I know a lot of people think that we didn’t get good value for our departed players, which is understandable. But here’s the thing: we’ll never know what the other offers for Roy and Jagr were. There’s a very real possibility that the returns were got were truly the best deals. I don’t really mind the Jagr deal because it could’ve gone the Brad Richards route and we wouldn’t have gotten anything for him. Again. These moves also remind me of that great Herb Brooks quote from Miracle,

“I’m not looking for the best players; I’m looking for the right ones.”

If these are the players that are going to play a part in the rebuild, then I’m content. We currently don’t have much of an identity, but we’re working towards that.

GM Joe and the front office blew up the team, but we have to believe that they were doing the right thing. By trading away Jagr and Roy, the team basically forfeited and accepted that the playoffs are not in the team’s future this season. Which is completely okay. As much as I hate to see the Stars lose, it’s worth noting that in the current standings they sit seventh from the bottom. Just think—if they continue to lose, that could turn into a top 5 draft pick. In a deep draft, that one player could be one of the missing pieces.

You know what I think is going to happen in these remaining games? I think we’re going to see a team that plays hard and is full of heart. However, that team will not be good enough to qualify for a playoff spot. These new look Stars are just too inexperienced and are missing crucial pieces. But they’re on their way. There is hope. Don’t think for a second that the Stars are doomed.

Rebuilds are tough, but every team has to go through this at some point. After trying to rebuild and contend at the same time, GM Joe and company are finally settling for just one of those options, and I think this spells good things for the Stars.

I like the direction we’re heading, I really do.

4.3.13 the new look Stars