The one constant in hockey (besides Gary Bettman's head swaying back and forth like a bobble-head when he speaks publicly) is expectations. Every player comes into a new hockey season with a set of expectations on him and most of the time they are higher than maybe they should be - even players like Alex Ovechkin's and Sidney Crosby's abilities are publicly questioned if they even dare go into a scoring slump of more than a few games. Most of the time these expectations fans, media, coaches and even fellow players alike have are based on things such as new contracts awarded, or a trade that sent away a current favorite player, or a great first season by said player.
Sadly, sometimes players fail to live up to expectations placed upon them - or in some cases only get so far but don't really fulfill all the promise most of us thought they had. Jonathan Cheechoo who will be in Stars training camp less than two weeks from today is a great example of a player who failed to live up to the hype. This week's list is inspired by that fact and focuses on five former Dallas Stars who came to the team with all kinds of hopes and promise, but like a Bruins choke job in the playoffs, ended up in nothing but heartbreak and disappointment.
#5 Most Disappointing Star - Pierre Turgeon
From the 1988 / 89 season when he became a breakout star with the the Buffalo Sabres until his last year with the St. Louis Blues in 2000 / 01, Pierre Turgeon had never scored under 20 goals in a season and only twice in those first 13 seasons did he score under 25 goals. So there was plenty of expectations when the Stars signed him July 1, 2001 as a free agent. Problem was, the Dallas Stars signed Turgeon - who was by all rights a top line NHL center - when they already had two top line NHL centers in Mike Modano and Joe Nieuwendyk. At the time, it was seen as a move that gave Dallas the best depth at center in the entire league, but everyone quickly found out that three #1 centers on a team just didn't work.. or at least it didn't at all for Dallas. So in a way, the fact Turgeon's numbers dropped so dramatically when he came to Dallas wasn't entirely his own fault. Not to mention, his playing style clashed with then head coach Ken Hitchcock and in his 14th NHL season, age caught up to him in a hurry.
After the jump, four more disappointing Stars. Make sure you have a box of tissues - or a punching bag if that would help more - beside you and ready to be used.
#4 Most Disappointing Star - Jason Arnott
So it was clear that this whole top three centers thing wasn't working for the Stars during the 2001 / 02 season and that not only were Turgeon's numbers down, but Joe Nieuwendyk didn't seem like the same player. The Stars, instead of contending for a Cup again, were mired in a race just to catch a last playoff spot and the age issue that haunted the Stars the season before was still around. The solution to all this? Trade 35-year-old fan favorite Joe Nieuwendyk and winger Jamie Langenbrunner who was just starting to enter his prime for 27 year-old Jason Arnott who was... well also a center. It was quickly labeled one of the worst trades in Stars history and even though Arnott had three fairly nice seasons in Dallas, there was really nothing he could do to truly win over Stars fans short of a championship. Stars fans bitterness towards him only grew tenfold when he signed with the Nashville Predators because of his desire to be a number one center on a team - a spot he'd never have in Dallas as long as Mike Modano was playing.
#3 Most Disappointing Star - Ladislav Nagy
Ladislav Nagy's entire NHL career could be labeled a bit of a disappointment; which is kind of unfair to say for a 7th round pick in the 1997 NHL Draft that did have at least three good 20+ goal seasons in his eight year NHL career. Not to mention, when he was traded to the Dallas Stars there were probably more expectations on him than there should have been, but still the fact remains Nagy was traded to the Stars near the 2007 trade deadline for Mathias Tjarnqvust (who in his own right at the time was a promising rookie Stars fans had high hopes for) and the Stars first round pick in the 2007 draft. Nagy - who was already kinda bombing with the Coyotes when he was traded didn't fare any better with the Stars despite the fact Stars management and coaches thought he could add depth for the playoff bound Stars. Instead all he did was pull a massive disappearing act in the playoffs against Vancouver. There really isn't much of a better example in the entire NHL of a horrible and short-sighted deadline deal than the one Doug Armstrong made in 2007 for Nagy.
#2 Most Disappointing Star - Donald Audette
The day after Pierre Turgeon signed with the Dallas Stars, Donald Audette was signed by the team on July 2 of 2001 and actually came to the Stars with better scoring numbers the year before than Turgeon had! The Stars were very eager to get back to the promised land of the Stanley Cup a year after being embarrassed by the St. Louis Blues in a four game sweep during the 2001 playoffs. It was thought that perhaps the Stars depth at forward wasn't good enough to compete and that signing Turgeon and Audette was going to be the solutions the Stars needed. Clearly that wasn't the case. It became kind of obvious quickly that Audette's 34 goals the year before with Atlanta and Buffalo were more of a mirage than anything and came during a "contract year". Worse yet, Audette wasn't exactly the most dedicated player in his own end of the ice and his style did not mesh well with that of coach Ken Hitchcock. Unlike Turgeon who at the very least showed a decent work ethic, Audette was at times lazy and thus his ice time was significantly shorter with the Stars than it had been with other teams in the past. The Audette experiement was scrapped quickly in November - 20 games into Donald's time as a Star - as he along with Shaun Van Allen was traded to Montreal for Martin Rucinsky and Benoit Brunet.
#1 Most Disappointing Star - Sean Avery
We all know the story with Avery. I'm not even going to hash over it. Instead, I am going to end this on a rant that my fellow Stars fans need to read about this guy...
Sean Avery is in Dallas on Janurary 7th - barring injury or plain 'ol cowardice which I wouldn't exactly put beyond him if we're being truthful here - when his Rangers visit the Stars at AAC. Now I know Stars fans are a pretty respectful bunch (hell, we cheered Patrick Roy of all players when he reached a goaltending milestone in Dallas) and they say time heals all wounds and come January 7th, we'll be beyond two years since the whole "seconds" incident in Calgary. But for the love of all things hockey, if you find yourself attending that game that night, you should... no... you must boo the ever loving you-know-what out of him!
Now I know Avery feeds off opposing fans hate like a Decepticon feeds off energon cubes and in a way you'd only be justifying what seems to be his only reason to live... besides breathlessly waiting for the latest Prada handbag to come out on sale. Still, if there was ever a time for Dallas fans to show hate and disgust for an opposing hockey player, January 7th is the perfect time.
The four players listed before Avery? Sure they were all disappointments, but it's not like they set out to screw over the franchise. All four of those players I think it's safe to say came to Dallas fully intending to help bring the Stars a Stanley Cup and for various reasons, it just didn't work out.
Can you say the same about Avery?
I mean even if he didn't care about his new city... or his new teammates... or honoring a new and very ridiculous four year contract that everyone knew front he start was a case of the Stars overpaying for a player... The least he could have done was have the back of hockey legend Brett Hull who was a former roommate of Avery's when they were both with the Red Wings and went to bat for the kid telling anyone and everyone that he personally talked to Avery and got assurances that Avery would be a model teammate in Dallas. Avery couldn't even do that which not only makes Avery a scumbag on the ice, but an even bigger one off the ice.
Disappointment doesn't even begin to describe Sean Avery really, but I don't think I am really allowed to publish the other 20 words not fit for family consumption that come to mind when I think about him...
I only hope on January 7 of 2011, a packed AAC feels the same way.