I'd like to apologize for the lack of content today. I'd also like to introduce you to the offseason. After the hectic, ownership-rumor-filled Saturday, well, there just hasn't been much Dallas Stars news to talk about. But that doesn't mean people aren't talking about them.
Take Mike Modano, for instance. We're a couple weeks into free agency, and Mike has yet to make his decision. As Stars fans, we're a bit biased and will give him the benefit of the doubt, but this waiting game has irked some Red Wings fans. The anger is either that Mike has gone "Hollywood" and is waiting out for attention, or that the Wings are stuck in limbo waiting for him....either way, the question in Detroit seems to be: What's taking so long?
If you follow Red Wings hockey, you know all the details about the Modano situation already. With Modano now backtracking on his "Detroit or retirement" statement - and, apparently, a deal in Detroit (bit premature, no?) - to consider alternate destinations, the Wings find themselves in a waiting game that is holding up the rest of their negotiations. Look, I love the idea of Modano in Detroit, but this is less about him considering his future at this point and more about getting his ego stroked after being dismissed from the only franchise he's ever played for. Taking time to determine his future his totally acceptable. Holding teams hostage as he looks to be wined and dined before making that decision is not.
Hmm....holding up negotiations, you say? Then how do you explain re-signing Derek Meech this week? Anyways, I'll let Chris McCosky voice a rebuttal to your opinion, Mr. Hollis...
It is not like that. Just because he didn't immediately fall all over himself to sign with the Wings doesn't mean he disrespected the organization. Just because he hasn't yet accepted the $1.25 million offer doesn't mean he feels slighted or he's holding out for more.
He has every right to take as much time as he needs to sort this out. He's not hurting anybody by deliberating. He's not being a prima donna. He's not asking to be wined and dined and fussed over.
If anything, Modano is being refreshingly honest. He doesn't know if he wants to put himself through another season. He doesn't know if he wants to live apart from his wife for a full season. He doesn't want to make a commitment to the Red Wings or anybody else if he can't go all in, mind, body and soul.
He doesn't deserve to be scorned or maligned for that.
He's completely right about that, no disrespect to Mr. Hollis. Modano could be handling this in a completely different manner than he is. He could be demanding first-class treatment, could be leaking hints to the media about his decision, or could even be trying to put on a special on ESPN to announce his decision. Instead, he's resting and relaxing and taking time to make his decision. And the only things he's telling ESPN are simple "No, nothing new" texts to Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside. So patience, Detroit fans, and take off your tinfoil hats. Mike Modano is harmless.
In Neal's situation, I think the Stars will wait him out and let him miss training camp if they have to, because they have plenty of options at left wing. The Rangers did that with Brandon Dubinsky last season, and he agreed to a two-year bridge contract during training camp. Neal is working out hard this summer and seems to want to really come out fast next season, so my guess is the Stars believe he will want to be in training camp.
On Nicklas Grossman:
The Hjalmarsson offer sheet and subsequent contract (four years, $14 million) does give Grossman plenty of leverage. The Stars might just go through training camp and see if Philip Larsen or Severin Blindenbacher offer a different element to the blueline if negotiations get really cold, but I can't imagine this defense starting the season without Grossman if they really believe they have a chance to make the playoffs. All of that makes me believe the two sides will find middle ground.
So all in all, it sounds like the Stars are going to wait it out with the two. Remember that RFAs can remain unsigned until December 1st, so the Stars could literally just wait until the beginning of the season to sign them. It seems like both sides (for both players) are going to play a game of chicken through training camp. Good news for Stars fans: usually the players and agents give in first.
Within that same piece, Heika offers up his take on what Matt Niskanen is up against this year:
In addition to Larsen knocking on the door, you have to believe that the Stars will be heavy into the trade market for a top-level defenseman once the sale of the team is complete, and that means a defenseman will have to go to make room for the new one (or two?). My guess is Niskanen tops the list of potential people to go right now. As such, Niskanen is on a bit of a hot seat. If he wants to prove himself to the team, he should probably come into training camp in great shape and be ready to compete for top minutes. As strange as it sounds after last season, he has a great opportunity to take big minutes here if he were to really up his game.
The Stars wanted him to grab the opportunity last season, and I believe that because of the budget, they will give him a great chance again this year. But there is a time limit to this chance, because I do believe new ownership will be in place and I do believe the defense will be changed before the end of next season.
The only question I have is: What exactly is Niskanen's trade value? It can't be much at the moment, so I'm betting the Stars are hoping he has a great start to the season so his value increases by the trade deadline. We all beat up on him, but the numbers indicate Niskanen isn't a total lost cause. Time will tell if last year was a fluke, but as Heika points out, he may not have much time.
And finally, former Stars played in a celebrity golf tournament:
Brett Hull, Mike Modano and Jamie Langenbrunner all finished in the top-20 of the event. Langenbrunner finished as the best of the three, shooting a final score of 58 to finish in a three-way tie for eighth place. Hull, who scored the winning goal for the Stars in the 1999 championships, was right behind Langenbrunner in 11th place with 57 points. And finally, Modano, who was released from the Stars this summer, took 17th place with 47 points.
Looks like Brett needs to take Mike to Top Golf more often..