Stargazing: Sale of Texas Rangers Won't Affect Stars Payroll?

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and NHL news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

Today in Stargazing: Sergei Zubov is not a happy camper, little Chris Conner is making some big noise, the Sheldon Souray talk won't go away, and how is Jonas Gustavsson working out in Toronto? Also, a Stars prospect is named player of the week. But first, we go to Tom Hicks.

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Fans all over North Texas rejoiced over the weekend when Tom Hicks and Chuck Greenberg announced they had come to a definitive agreement in the sale of the Texas Rangers. It was thought (or at least hoped) by Stars fans that this sale would eventually have a positive impact on Joe Nieuwendyk's ability to improve a hockey team that currently is projected to have the 4th most unused cap space in the league at over $10 million. We've put an asterisk on nearly every conversation we've had for two seasons now regarding roster moves, free agents, and trades. There's always a question about the money. So this sale of the Rangers is our proverbial white-knight that has come to the rescue, allowing us to find goaltending and shore up the defense, right? Well...Maybe someday it will be, but Mike Heika wrote in the Dallas Morning News yesterday that it won't be any time soon:

When asked about the sale of the Rangers in an e-mail this weekend, Stars owner Tom Hicks replied: "The Stars will continue to operate in a business-as-usual manner. Our biggest goal is to make the playoffs and to have success in them as we did two years ago."

In other words, the team has an internal budget (about $45 million) that probably won't change. If general manager Joe Nieuwendyk wants to make a trade, it likely will have to be a dollars-in-for-dollars-out deal, and he probably will have to move assets from an area of strength to fill perceived weaknesses.

That makes his job difficult, but it doesn't make it impossible.

"It is challenging, but I think it's been challenging for every GM in the league," Nieuwendyk said. "It's difficult to make a trade in the league right now, and you just have to wait to see what happens. We do have needs, no question about it, and we talk about those needs every day and we talk about how to address those needs. You just have to make sure you're ready when the opportunity presents itself."

"Our biggest goal is to make the playoffs and to have success in them as we did two years ago." Translation: You're on your own boys. I don't know about you, but with the sale still pending approval from the creditors and Major League Baseball, a process that will likely last into April, I did not anticipate financial benefit for the Stars this season, but I was sure harboring a secret hope that it would free up a little money for next year. Mr. Heika's insinuation that the Stars will see no change in the budget for next season either is a painful one to hear, but a conclusion that I think we must accept as being very, very probable. Be sure to read Mike's entire analysis of the situation.

The Coyotes and Predators are making due perfectly well with even smaller payrolls, so it's up to GM. Joe and Marc Crawford to do the same.

After the jump, some good news about the lineup tomorrow night and lots of Stars links...

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Well, it's good news mixed with some bad: Morrow will be back, but...

Stars coach Marc Crawford said both Brenden Morrow (oblique) and Jere Lehtinen (neck) will practice Tuesday and will be available to play on Wednesday against Calgary.

As a result, Ray Sawada was sent back to Texas (AHL) today.

The results from Tom Wandell's knee checkup were not available today, but he is not expected to be back any time soon, Crawford said.

It's been five days without word on Wandell's knee. It makes you wonder if there's a tough decision to grapple with, or second (third, fourth) opinions being sought.

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We thanks Andrew's Stars Page for the tip on the Zubov story:

"The administrator of the national team has just called me and said that I am included into the list of substitutions for the Olympics," started Zubov his speech. "I actually did not know what to say. The situation surprised me a lot.

"And before this I was amazed and even offended by the words of the president of the Russian Hockey Federation Vladislav Tretyak and the head coach of the national team Vyacheslav Bykov uttered in an interview: that to get to the national squad one must gnaw the ice and they would not take you for your previous merits.

"All these statements have extremely disappointed me. This is humiliation of me as a personality and a sportsman. I do not owe anything to anyone and I have honestly earned my name in ice hockey.

"I am not 25 years old and have proved my high level with seventeen seasons in NHL. I am not going to prove anything anymore.

"If there is a place for me in the reserves only I regard it as a spit in my face. I wanted to play for the national team very much but unfortunately I will not.

"I want to apologize to our supporters. I think they will understand me. And I wish good luck to our guys in Vancouver."

Our love for Sergei Zubov knows no bounds here at Defending Big D, but I am a little surprised by the tone of his comments (or awkward translation of them). For a 40 year old to be left off an Olympic hockey roster...well, I don't know if it's necessarily humiliating. The man still has that fire in him, that's for sure.

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Scott Glennie is healthy again and was just named the WHL player of the week:

Glennie collected seven points, scoring two goals and five assists to go with a +4 rating, in three games over the past week, helping the Wheat Kings post a 2-1-0-0 record in that span.
 
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With Glennie’s seven points over the last three games he has now reached the 50 point plateau in all three of his WHL seasons, currently sitting 30th among WHL scorers with 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists) in 46 games.  The Wheat Kings have won four of their last five games and sit third in the WHL Eastern Conference with a 32-16-0-3 record for 67 points, just two back of the first place Saskatoon Blades.

Click on over to Hockey's Future for a full blow by blow of Glennie's week.

Defending Big D interviewed Scott Glennie in November and you can find that here.

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The Maple Leafs are contemplating their future in goal as well, and aren't sure what to make of Jonas Gustavsson yet:

At this point, Gustavsson is being given a chance to provide at least part of the answer. Now that Burke and head coach Ron Wilson are fairly sure Gustavsson's health problems, which saw him undergo two heart ablation procedures, are solved, the plan is to give the rookie most of the work between now and the end of the season.

But that is only as long as he continues to play well. So far, he has shown streaks of promise but he has also shown he still has much to learn from goaltending guru François Allaire.

The most likely outcome is that Gustavsson, who does not benefit from playing behind a defensively consistent team, will continue to be up and down. Burke, then, might have to make a call by the March 3 NHL trading deadline if an attractive alternative presents itself.

The assumption (very optimistic hope) of the teams involved in the Gustavsson sweepstakes last summer was that whoever landed him would have their future in net figured out. The Leafs got him, but aren't so sure. With the Stars financial situation, would there have been less doubt here?

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More Stars reading for you:

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