Life Without Modano: Stars Fans Try to See the Good Going Forward

Ok I'll admit it, this entire post was a way to get this picture of Brad Richards onto the blog... How can anyone be negative looking at this guy? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Many (many) years ago, after a particularity rough day I had at school  that pretty much brought me to tears (I can't remember the grave injustices that took place against me that day, but since I was probably 7 or 8 I can only imagine it was something tragic like falling down and skinning my knees or something like that) my mom sat me down on her lap, consoled me like only a good mom can and told me something that has since stuck with me to this day and likely always will...

This too shall pass.

She explained that bad things are always bound to happen in life but the key is to fight through them and know that eventually, in the end things will turn around and get better.  Simply because sometimes, hey... it can't get much worse right?  She then got me a bowl of chocolate ice cream and of course mom's theory was proven right and things did seem a bit better.

Yesterday was a pretty bad day for Stars fans.  I know it was because the moment the Stars shut down their official message board where they like keep it a joyful place with no bad thoughts, you know there are a lot of unhappy people and they are venting something fierce.  There was the Mike Modano thing of course which was front and center.  But there were other factors as well.  The Krys Barch deal I know had a lot of fans shaking their head.  Quite a few of you are still convinced the Stars made a huge mistake not drafting Cam Fowler or Brandon Gromley.  There was a suggestion made that the Stars are possibly bound to lose James Neal this summer, never mind the fact that the chances of getting a much needed grade-A defenseman through free agency is about as likely as the Cleveland Cavs holding on to LeBron James.  Oh and lets not forget that on top of all that is the fact the team still remains virtually owner-less and they haven't made the playoffs for two years in a row.

I swear I'm not trying to make you all clinically depressed right now.  Bear with me while I continue...

The truth is, things really aren't that bad with your Dallas Stars right now.  I know some of you may groan and think "oh boy, here comes some more Stars appoligist crap.." but while things aren't that great granted, it's not like we're long suffering Maple Leafs or Cubs fans over here!  Yet I believe because all these little things have happened - especially with the not making the playoffs two years running - it's made each move seem like one more step towards the sporting abyss.  I'm here to tell you that if you think about it for a moment - truly think about it with the good hockey sense I know all Stars fans have - It's not all that bad.

Krys Barch Gets..  A Raise?!

I'm not going to go back and look, but I know Barch on multiple occasions more than any other Dallas Star was my pick as a game's "38th Star" and if he wasn't then it was only because he barely played enough to even register on the radar.  So yes, to give him a raise to 825 thousand for this season and 850 K for the season after seems.. well.. dumb!

And I won't lie to you, personally I do think it was a dumb move.  But, I'm pretty sure it came down to a case of do you bring in Barch with a raise or do you bring in a completely unproven kid for a few hundred grand cheaper?  When I think about it, maybe keeping the guy who will be going into his 5th NHL season isn't that bad a move.  What it really comes down to though is are we really going to fret over a few hundred thousand spent on an tenured NHL player over a never-been rookie?

Didn't Draft A D-Man?

So you know what the story was..  Stars had the 11th pick, Fowler and Gormley were somehow dropping through the draft like rocks and it was time for the Stars to step up.  Want to know my though process through it all?  Here it is:

"Oh man this is sweet!  We're gonna get Fowler...  Or Gormley...  But I'd prefer Fowler... This is awesome!  I can't believe how STUpid those other teams were to pass on Fowler!  There goes Nieuwy to the stage...  Man he must be thinking how insanely lucky he is to get Fowler...  Or Gormley...  But really please draft Fowler...  With the 11th pick...  Stars select... * takes deep breath * CAM FO... uhh...  ...  Jack Campbell?!?!  Uhh...  Wait...  What?!  The goalie?!  The one that ripped my junior hockey loving heart out in Janurary?!  Uhhh..  Kay...  Well...  This is ok...  Jack Campbell could be a franchise guy...  I mean... Folwer fell for a reason right?  This is gonna work out...  Jack Campbell you say?  Alright... goaltending wins championships baby..."

Now in ten years I could curse out myself for how naive I was as I watch Cam Folwer lift a Stanley Cup for the Ducks...  Until then though?  Two thoughts:  Goaltending is the most important position on the ice and the Stars lack there as much as any other position right now, and at least we didn't draft Derek Boogaard V. 2.0 at the 10 spot.

"The Real Deal" Could Skip Town?

I respect the heck out of Mike Heika and I do agree with some of what he is saying when he suggested that James Neal will most likely be looking to get more than a 1.8 million dollar "bridge contract" this summer..  But I don't know if I agree with the idea that a two year player that has yet to see any playoffs command a 4 million dollar salary.  2 to 3 million over two years I would suspect is the deal that the Stars and Neal will get done and even if another team decided to press their luck and sign Neal to an offer sheet of 4 million or more, I say the Stars match it and keep his rights.  Neal is too good a player right now and is no doubt a cornerstone on the rebuilding mode this franchise is going through.  Ownership issue or no ownership issue, Neal gets signed and to be frank I didn't even entertain the idea of him not signing with the Stars up until I read that article and fans started panicking about it because no matter what, it just won't happen.  Relax Stars fans.  I give you my word on this.  Neal will be in camp for Dallas this fall, or I'll eat my brand new Stars hat...

No Help On The D

So this one looks bad and as much as I pray to hockey Jesus every night that the Stars somehow bring Anton Volchenkov into the fold, I know it won't happen.  This might be the one area where I think there might not be any hope -aside from Niskanen regaining his rookie season form, Grossman learning to make smarter plays with the puck and Daley finding a way to have pucks bounce off him and into corners instead of into his own net.  I won't even try to deny this one is bad...

No Mo' Modano

I agree with most of you.  This doesn't feel right at all.

It would have been nice to see Modano take his last strides as an NHLer as a Dallas Star and in a more ideal situation, it would have happened.  I'm not saying none of us have to like it, but at least I think we should all agree that it's not the end of the world either.  Cowboys fans seemed to be able to deal when Emmitt left for Arizona.  Boston fans understood when Bourque left for Colorado.  None of them liked that their team had to let a face of the franchise go while their team moved on and got younger, but it happens.

You don't think Nieuwendyk agonized over this decision at all?  If you think he came on this call easy, well then I can only say you're kidding yourself.

We can - and probably will - go into the details of Modano leaving and the how's and why's about it for weeks to come.  But with the surplus of centers this team already has, and the fact that the money that is freed up by not signing Mike can go to signing a James Neal or even a potential free agent defenseman, lets all just step back and wait to see how this summer plays out before we really crucify Joe Nieuwendyk for this decision.

Last night I took down the Modano jersey that has been hanging over my bed since I moved to my current home in 2005.  I smiled a bit but also felt a twinge of sadness as I put it in my closet of jerseys.  Modano was the reason I became a Stars fan back in 1988 and I really don't know how I'll feel come this fall when there isn't any #9 on the ice for Dallas.  I can't imagine my Stars hockey life without him and if he does sign with another team - especially a rival team - I imagine I'll be very upset.

But for now I'll sit down and have a bowl of ice cream.  All this too shall pass ya know...

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