This morning, Joe Nieuwendyk did his best to say all the right things and honor Mike Modano while at the same time taking the franchise in a different direction, away from the only face it's ever known in 17 years in Dallas. This has produced an understandable amount of venom and outrage on the internet, radio, and even in the work place as I'm finding out, but many feel as though it needed to be done.
GM Joe realizes the PR hit he's going to take on this, but maintains that his mission is clear. "My job is on the ice." Nieuwendyk said. "I realize the impact Mike has on this franchise from a selling point. You’re not going to replace Mike Modano. He's been a special person and a special player for so many years in Dallas. But like all great players, at some point you have to turn the page. I feel like it’s time we turn the page."
Immediately following the press conference (and before), radio and tv personalities could be heard speaking of why this needed to be done, likening Joe to a corporate head hunter sent to do the bidding of another in getting rid of Modnao. Money seems to be a popular topic amongst the talking heads, but to me what Joe said about the center position is the crux of the matter.
"That’s really the strength of our team with Brad Richards, Mike Ribeiro, Jamie Benn at center. Steve Ott can play there and the guy everyone forgets about, Tom Wandell. So that's a strength of our team," said Nieuwendyk.
It's not only a strength, but perhaps the primary area of development this year. We can hope these young d-men continue improving, but the big steps forward this season need to be taken by Jamie Benn and Tom Wandell. This is not a one year issue. Mike Modano was not sent packing maliciously because he can't contribute for one more season. He has been excluded from the plans because a decade of Jamie Benn's growth and accomplishment is at hand; Because at 23, Tom Wandell needs to be given the chance to flourish before it's too late and that time is wasted.
That, to me, is what is going on here. It is unfortunate, yes, but we need to look forward. Not behind.
As badly as I want to admonish the Stars, I can find no fault with this hockey decision. As much as I want to beg Mike Modano to ride off into the sunset, you can't deny that fire in him that wants to play. This situation is a "lose-lose" if ever there was one.
Read what others are saying out there on the interwebs...
Tim Cowlishaw of the Morning News talks about the decision, and actually makes a kind of sense of it. A kind.
Puck Daddy takes note of the spin control that Joe Nieuwendyk is presently engaged in.
ESPN Dallas has these quotes from Ott and Richards, and more so check it out.
"The NHL is getting younger because of budgets and I would imagine if we were on the cusp of a Stanley Cup, things might be different," said Richards via text. Richards led the Stars with 91 points last season. "I think Joe needs to see what these young guys can do and with the ownership problems, he has tough decisions concerning the budget."
Ott said the Stars' roster is full of young players wanting a chance to shine. He included Jamie Benn, James Neal, Loui Eriksson and others in that group.
"It's up to management as to what to do with players," Ott said. "You have to see what they have and what they can do. It’s similar to when Mike was young, He was such a gifted player in his career and he got the chance to be on the power play and be in those roles."