Matt Niskanen is among those skating in Frisco, despite a distinct lack of contract.
Whilst we try to enjoy the holiday weekend with our families and the first bit of decent north Texas weather we've had in a very long time, we're heartened and excited to hear that Stars players have been gathering in Frisco all week long to start their long road back to the playoffs. More on that next week. In the mean time, here is some important Saturday reading for you to do while you day dream of the fast approaching pre-season.
By the way, the Stars sales staff assures me (via my father) that the season tickets are being printed this weekend and should be shipped and delivered as early as next week. You might want to camp outside by your front door all week. I'll have a run down of the September schedule a little later. It's a very exciting time we have coming out of this holiday break.
- First up, Brandon Worley debuts at our new side gig: The Fourth Period. It's a print magazine ("hockey lifestyle" magazine) that is also branching out into online content, and that's where he and I will come in once a week with Dallas Stars opinion and news. I assure you this will not take away from DBD. Brandon makes our first entry with them this week, so please click on over and check it out. [The Fourth Period]
- Fox Sports Southwest has a website now (I have to keep reminding myself to look there) and they managed a Q&A with Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk. Among the questions answered, "Is Brad Richards the new face of the franchise?" A gutsy question given Richards' precarious contract status and his propensity for quiet, generic interviews. Check it out at Fox Sports Southwest. [FSN]
- Probably the best bit of off-season gold we've had in a long time: Mark Stepneski recorded 2 minutes of Mike Ribeiro playing goal! He's got an active stick, and he teaches us that if there's one place Fabian Brunnstrom is sure to succeed, it's facing a center playing dress up in full pads. No word yet on whether or not Ribeiro's goaltending difficulties are linked with his lackluster faceoff percentages. It's a great video and it's nice to see the guys having fun. [ADSP]
- Star Local News mentions that everyone in the Stars locker room enjoys "Words with Friends," which I too enjoy every much. This has been corroborrated by BAD radio all last spring. It also seems an apt method for Steve Ott to flex his famous vocabulary, though, I don't think the game accepts the odd Swedish and Finnish curse. [Star Local News]
- Ken Hitchcock was sitting in his car in a parking lot outside of a "clothing shop" and then apprehended a 14 year old boy. You can't make this stuff up. The venerable Hitch wasn't doing anything creepy; The boy was a shoplifting criminal and Hitch helped to bring him to justice. Read Razors take on it. [Dallasstars.com]
- Ilya Kovalchuk wanted so much money that he instigated a change of the CBA, and even more amazing, the NHL and the NHLPA agreed on it. Kovalchuk has his deal reduced by 2 years, but only loses $2 million on what was originally a $102 million contract. The contract is being reported (by some) as a done deal as of about midnight on Friday. [NJ.com]
- Finally, an excellent discussion by Mike Heika on the best James Neal comparable yet: Chris Stewart of Avalanche fame. Even new leverage might not strengthen Neal's position. [DMN]