Taking A Beating

•August 11, 2010 • 3 Comments

Our Dallas Stars have had several consecutive bad seasons . And nobody I have talked to seems exceptionally positive about this season either . 

 Our team problems have been blamed on everybody from Modano to GM Joe . 

 The defense has been blamed for a lot , our offense has been blamed as well and our goaltending has been blamed for even more .  

 The fact is , that last season , we needed maybe two or three more pieces of the puzzle (confidence being one of them) to take our team back to the playoffs . This season , we have had more than a few players who ended up settling pay issues through arbitration . Not a good sign . (For those of you who do not know , arbitration is where the team representatives come in and say your play level is not worth the amount of pay you want , basically saying “you are not worth your money” – the team reps and the player’s agent – with the player present often – argue until an “impartial” judge forces a settlement) . If players do not like how they were looked upon during arbitration , how do you think they will perform ? How would you ?

 It seems to me that we will have many players being asked to do their best for people who have no faith in their skills and abilities .

 Is it any wonder that Modano left ? He would have most likely left even if Joe had been able to offer him a contract (don’t fool yourself , it was not Joe’s decision , it was Hicks pulling the purse strings too tight) . Modano even said that the past couple of years had been difficult .

 Sadly , I think Modano is simply the first of many skilled players to go to another team . I truly believe that Richards , Ribeiro and many others will move out of Dallas as soon as their contracts end and they can go to a team with a chance to win a Cup and actually get paid decently for their services . 

  If you totally disagree , well then , never mind . If this does make sense to you , keep reading .

 Mark Cuban should buy Our Dallas Stars .
 
 Yes , you read correctly . While he may know more about basketball , he is not afraid to bring in people he believes are experts to get the job done . If he bought Our Stars , he would be in sole ownership of the AAC (the Mavericks and Our Stars have joint ownership of the arena) . He would also be able to make all of the games for both teams be on his sports networks and pretty much “double dip” on  both teams . With Cuban in charge , I believe we would also be devoid of an exceptionally low amount of “spending money” to sign good players .

 So in reality ,  I say (again) that getting rid of Hicks would solve all Our Stars’ problems .

 I have taken a beating (not literally) for these views , but I still stand by them . Hicks MUST go .

P.S. : If they did not offer Modano a contract , you can pretty well bet Lehtinen will not be offered one either – just in case you forgot about him .

Coup de et at ?

•August 3, 2010 • 3 Comments

 Marty Turco is now a Chicago Blackhawk and (if you believe the rumours – like I do) Mike Modano will be a Detroit Red Wing on August 5th . 
 
 Our Stars still have not replaced any high-salaried defensemen .

 To me , it seems Our Stars have a multitude of second and third line players and few first line players . 

 And , don’t even get me started on the goalie fiasco .

 If you have read anything about the sale of the Texas Rangers , (baseball is not really anything I’m interested in but since Hicks owns the team , it affects the Stars adversely) you know Hicks is dragging his feet and trying everything he can to complete the sale of the team (and squeezing every penny he thinks he can get from prospective buyers). That is not a good sign for Our Stars .

 It is claimed that we cannot bring in talent because of the salary cap . True – kind of . Hicks has imposed his own salary cap that will keep us from adding anyone who has the remotest chance of improving our team greatly . Therefore , no higher paid players who are actually worth their pay will be coming to us .  

 It is truly a crying shame that money-grubbing Hicks will not sell our team to someone who would do something to help our team instead of just sitting around and watching the team flounder for years .

 In case you missed the subtleties , yes , I am squarely placing blame for a miserable season that has yet to occur on Tom Hicks’s head . 

 I want to be a Stars fan and I will be no matter who owns the team , but Hicks makes it very hard to be while he still owns the team . His apparent lack of care for the team and their fans will certainly run off many would-be fans .

 If only we could start a revolution and overthrow Hicks’s evil reign we might have a decent season ……….

Don’t Blame Joe

•July 1, 2010 • 1 Comment

 First off I need to apologize for not blogging more , but I have had rotator cuff surgery and that set me back a bit . 

 Obviously , Our Dallas Stars have decided against offering a contract to Mike Modano . Many people out there are placing the blame for that squarely on Joe’s head . Hold on a minute ! Joe probably had little , if anything to do with it .

 Let’s look at the facts in the case ;

 Sergei Zubov left us and was not replaced by a ” high-end defenseman” AND Joe was not our GM .
 Mattias Norstrom left us and was not replaced by a ” high-end defenseman ” AND Joe was not our GM .
Darryl Sydor left us and was not replaced by a ” high-end defenseman ” AND Joe was not our GM .
Phillipe Boucher left us and was not replaced by a ” high-end defenseman ” AND Joe was not our GM .
 (Yes , some were traded for each other but they never were completely replaced when they left and we still have glaring holes in our defense .)
 See a pattern in that ?
 Coaches coach the players the GMs give them .
 GMs aquire players the owner (or owners) says the club can afford . 

 So , unless Joe managed the team through two co-GMs and an entirely different GM , the blame for Modano not being offered a contract needs to go to our bankrupt owner , Tom Hicks . Oh , I could fill up the internet with terrible things to say about the man , but most Texas Rangers fans have been doing that for years and nobody listened to them either (at least until shortly before Hicks decided to sell the Rangers – don’t forget about his former soccer team in the United Kingdom who hate him with a passion still even though he no longer has much , if anything , invested the club) .

 No , Stars fans , Joe Nieuwendyk is not , I repeat , not , our enemy . Our dead-broke , bankrupt , sorry @$$ owner Tom Hicks is the reason the Modano will be playing against us . Truly , it is a crying shame for the face of Our Dallas Stars to be playing against his own team , but again , the blame for that has already been squarely placed where it belongs . Hicks is the one who has been taking NHL “welfare” very quietly for at least two seasons now . 

 Our Dallas Stars built hockey in Texas and I hate to see Tom Hicks single-handedly set us back many years by forcing Modano to play elsewhere but he has done just that . You may disagree , but go up to the average person on the street and the only Dallas Stars’ player they know is Mike Modano . Now , the average person on the street who might have gone to a hockey game will not go because they do not know any of the players .  Thanks for slitting your own throat , Hicks . All of us fans owe you things we could never legally repay .

 I like Mike Modano but I was never his biggest fan (and never claimed to be) but seeing him go like this certainly feels like a kick in the family jewels .

If This Is It …………

•April 9, 2010 • 5 Comments

 Before I get any further , I need to thank my wife for going with me to the last home game of the season . She has had TAKS testing going on all week in her school district . We arrived home very late – and we knew we would – but she sacrificed an awful lot to come out to the game with me . I never would have gone to the game without her and I owe her for it .

If this is it for Modano , Lehtinen and Turco , it was one hell of a way to go . Ralph , Razor and Ludwig all agreed that the game could not have been any better if it had been scripted . They all also agreed that this was probably one of the most memorable games in the history of the franchise . I cannot argue .

As far as the overall gameplay went , we played very good (considering) . I say “considering” because we probably could have scored many more times if Modano had not been fed the puck at every opportunity (I do not blame them for it – I would have made the same effort – I am simply stating fact) . We played great team defense , great offense (52 shots on goal is nothing to sneeze at) , our penalty kill was very good , and we showed great determination . Everybody played hard as a team . Pick any name off our roster and they played great . Larsen and Gagnon both played exceptionally well .  And of course Cap’n Morrow just so happened to be one of the better players on the ice despite suffering from the equivalent of a broken foot .

 The poor Ducks never had a chance . Oh , they might have had one on the scoreboard , but they never really had a chance . Everybody knew going into the game that this could very well be Mike Modano’s , Jere Lehtinen’s and Marty Turco’s last game – whether in a Stars’ uniform or otherwise .

 The gameplay was almost irrelevant . This was more about our emotions for our players and theirs for us than it was about the hockey game . We won and did well , but that was certainly not the main attraction . Throughout the entire game , the big screen kept showing statistics from each of those three players proving how valuable they have been to Our Dallas Stars  in their distinguished careers with this franchise . 

Razor said (before Modano had scored his first goal) that if Modano scored , the AAC would go ballistic . It did . Yeah , it may have been tipped with a high stick but to quote Razor , ” Toronto had better check their stones if they want to reverse that call .” He was right . I am almost positive that the safety of their referee crew would have been in serious jeopardy if they had reversed the goal and disallowed it . I am not saying I would have done anything , but 17,999 others might have . Thankfully , the goal stood and no riot ensued .

 The way this game was won is what made it so great . The game started out with Modano touching the puck every other chance . Everyone fed him the puck . It was inevitable that he was going to score at least one . After he got the deflection goal , we played a more evenly balanced game . It seems that everyone on our team did not want Modano’s (maybe) last goal to be one that deflected off of him and past our own goaltender .

When the game went into overtime and then to the shootout , I do not think anyone in the AAC was surprised that Modano and Lehtinen were in the shootout line up (but , honestly , I was pleasantly surprised they both scored – their shootout percentages are less than stellar). Modano scored on our second shot and the AAC , again , erupted . Then when Lehtinen scored on his shot , the AAC turned into a madhouse .  Oh , yeah , and Marty’s saves on the poor Ducks also brought the cheering volume up to a deafening roar . I know that I was one of many thousands who were chanting , “Marty , Marty !” . 

 The fans were spectacular for this game . Marty had his time on the big screen and plenty of applause and cheering . Lehtinen had his time on the big screen and his fair share of the same . Obviously , Modano out-shone them both simply because , for most fans , he is the Dallas Stars . When gameplay stopped for more than three minutes in the third period so that all of us fans could cheer for Mike Modano , he cried on the bench , stood up and waved , many of us fans teared up as well . Those tears he cried were as much for us as they were for himself . He knows we love him and that we do not want him to retire . You could tell that by the multitude of signs all around the glass begging him , Lehtinen and Turco to stay for “one more year” . If he does retire , this was the right home game to end it on .

Mike Modano is , was and always will be a huge part of our Dallas Stars and the success that both hockey and the club itself has had here in Texas . As I wrote in my letter to him , no amount of thanks any of us could give him would ever be enough . I could write much more about Mike Modano but anybody and everybody with a keyboard will be doing that anyway . Besides , Ralph and Razor covered him well enough last night . I could not d him justice .

 Marty Turco has been an integral part of our team for many years . He may not have been as great recently as he has in the past two years , but I have few doubts that he still has plenty more “gas in the tank” . Many people I know think he will end up with another team and shut us out every time he plays against us .  I really enjoyed a sign that my friend made . It said , “Once a Star Always a Star except for Avery He is a douche ” . I could never agree more .

 Jere Lehtinen has been the rock on this team . I had it pointed out to me that his scoring has dropped off considerably in the past two seasons and that is why he needs to go . His scoring has dropped off , that much is true but  his gameplay has allowed Jamie Benn to develop into the kind of player that he has been this season . His role for our Stars has changed from goal-scorer and defensive forward to simply defensive forward . He has been the “safety valve” on at least three different lines when the other two forwards are only thinking about scoring and have neglected (or not yet learned) their defensive responsibilities . Jere Lehtinen has been called “The King Of The Little Things” because he does everything right . That is how he is the rock  on this team . You always know what to expect from him . He will work hard along the boards , drive the net , kill penalties , play on the powerplay (whatever he is told to do) and he never takes a shift off and skates standing upright . No matter if our team is up by ten goals or down by ten goals , he always plays the same way . Hard . I know that we have been told not to use words like “always” and “never” but with Jere Lehtinen , those words are simply the only ones that could possibly be used for his gameplay . We may all miss Modano because he has been the “face” of our team for so long but if Jere Lehtinen retires , we will lose so much more .

 I loved what Craig Ludwig said about the three stars of the game . “They were gonna’ be the three stars yesterday . Today , they earned it .” No truer words , Luddy .

 And for the record , I still have not gone to sleep yet and George Parros still needs to shave that “seventies-bad-porn-star-mustache” I don’t care what Razor thinks .

A Letter To Jere Lehtinen

•April 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 I delivered this letter to Mr. Lehtinen before a practice in Frisco as well . This is a little more personal to me than the one I composed to Mr. Modano (for reasons you will understand when you read it) . I again tried to keep it as short as possible . I was pleased that after the practice ended , he did come out and take a little bit of extra time with me . I do not really care if he remembers me , I just wanted him to know that he was , is and always will be greatly appreciated .

 Mr. Lehtinen ,

  I know I am but one of many fans of yours , from only one of many countries in which you have many fans , but I felt compelled to write this letter to you to let you know how much you have meant to my family and myself over the many years you have played hockey for Our Dallas Stars . I felt obligated to send this letter to you now in light of the uncertainties of next season . I truly fear your departure from Our Stars no matter when or why that eventuality may come .

 You have been an inspiration for us all in the way that you play . Your on-ice example of doing the “little things” and receiving little to no recognition has truly inspired me to convey that message to my children and also apply it to  my job as well . I know that you have been awarded three Frank J. Selke Trophies and many other accolades as well , but you are not thanked after each shift for performing the same way as you did when you were awarded those accolades .

 Your consistent hard work where ever you may be on the ice – no matter what the situation – is truly admirable . I know that sometimes I have felt like giving up in my job , but it seems that you never do .

 You may never have intended to impact the lives of people who you have only met casually but you certainly have – and I thank you for it . You are truly a shining example to every “blue-collar worker” everywhere of how to do your job , even when your job is not as glorious or glamorous as others’ jobs may be . Your hard work all over the ice seems to go unnoticed far too often . I do make a conscious effort to point out your excellent work in every game . I have learned that the “little things” add up to big things in a short amount of time .

 Thank you for being the best you know how to be .

 You have been and always will be one of my heroes .

 Thank you for taking the time to read this .

A Letter To Mike Modano

•April 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 I hand-delivered this note to Mr. Modano before a practice in Frisco . I have chosen to share this with you because I think we all should have let Mr. Modano know how much he means to us all . I intended this to be as short as possible while still conveying the message that I wanted to deliver . Let me know what you think .

 Mr. Modano ,

 I know I am simply one of millions of fans of yours but I felt compelled to write this letter to you because of the uncertainty of next season .

 You have done so much for all of Texas since Our Stars moved here from Minnesota . Your contributions have been enormous .

 There was no ice surface in all of the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex before Our Dallas Stars moved here that hockey could be played on . That has changed massively – and for the better . While I was growing up , I never had the opportunity to play hockey but now , young men from Texas are being drafted into the NHL – and that does not even count the young women who are able to secure college hockey scholarships . My daughters now have the opportunities that I never had . I thank you for that . You have paved the way for many future generations of hockey players – both men and women .

 Your individual accomplishments alone have secured you a place in the Hockey Hall Of Fame and yet that is not even enough to thank you for what you have done for Texas hockey . You may not have brought hockey to Texas single-handedly , but you made it thrive . You made it exciting . You made us want to watch . You made us want to be fans . You grew hockey here with your actions on ice . You built charities here and contributed to the community .

 If for any reason at all you do not return to play for Our Dallas Stars next season , please remember that we – as individuals and as a state – will always appreciate what you have done for the sport of hockey in Texas .

 I am certain you receive many letters from fans telling you how great of a player you are but this is the only way I could conceive of to convey to you my deepest and most sincere thanks .

 Thank you for all that you have done Mr. Modano . Texas and I both owe you a debt of gratitude that we could never repay .

Down And Out

•April 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

 The game against the Chicago Chickenhawks reminded me of the rest of our season . Here is how ;

 Goaltending 
 In the game – Poor Matt Climie .  The Chickenhawks have out-shot all their opponents by large margins . He played as good as he could but he was still run over .  
 For the season – Soft goals , opponents left alone in front of our goaltender and break-aways plagued us all season , just like in this game . The soft goals can be stopped by goaltenders , but when they are hung out to dry by the rest of the team , they tend not to have the confidence to make even the simplest stops . They over-think . Unfortunately , these things happened to every goaltender that graced our locker room throughout the season , so it cannot be said that it was any one , specific goaltenders’ fault . 

Powerplay
 In the game – We had opportunities to score on the powerplay many times . Our short 5-on-3 powerplay went scoreless as well . We did manage to capitalize on one , but it was not enough – especially since we gave up more chances to score when the Chickenhawks were shorthanded .
 For the season – We certainly struggled with this . There were many times that we could not manage to score even with a two man advantage .  At times , we were at the bottom of the league , as far as the percentage goes .

 Penalty kill
 In the game – We did great sometimes . Others , not so much .
 For the season – Pretty much the same . Sometimes we were close to the top of the league in penalty killing , others we were far from it .

 Defensive game
 In the game – We made it look easy to defend at times . Other times we were out of position and completely forgot about players who ended up having fabulous chances on poor Climie all alone .
 For the season – Again , almost the exact same thing can be said .  The only difference is you would need to change the goaltender’s name .

 Offensive game
 In the game – During the second period , we looked very good and attacked the net with ease . In the rest of the game , we had chances , but often times the determination appeared to be absent .
 For the season – There were games in which we scored at will . Then , there were games we could not manage a single point . We lacked consistency .

 I think the biggest problem we have is inconsistency . Sometimes the majority of the team comes out to win but other times the majority of the team merely comes out to skate . Too many players have been skating standing up too often . That is not playing with determination . We have been pretty good at home , but on road games , we have been blanked at least twice .

 Matt Climie played pretty well and we did hear “save Climie” from Ralph often , but it did not stop my wife from asking , “Can we pull Climie now ?” I still think he did as well as he could …….. considering .

I also feel like I need to say that I do not think it was the best idea to sign Toby Petersen to a $1.55 million contract . I do think he was certainly one of the better players in this specific game (and often times the rest of the season) but to me , he is a fourth line player . Where is the cash going to come from to sign players that we need on the back-end ? Do we actually think we can pick up bargain basement deals on top the top players that we so desperately need ? Every team in the league is looking for the exact same thing . We simply will not get bargain basement deals . I guess all we can hope for is a massive infusion of talent from the Texas Stars next season .

 We need a new owner . Damn shame that Modano says the Hull-Modano-Gretzky thing was just a bad rumour . That might have been great for our team . Do not misunderstand , having a new owner will not fix all of our issues but it would certainly be a step in the right direction .

 On  positive note ;
 Marty Turco , Jere Lehtinen and Mike Modano are scheduled to be starters for the final home game of the season against the Ducks tomorrow . I truly hope we win even if it really does not “mean” anything as far as standings .