Four months ago Dallas Stars fans had a vision for how this hockey season would play out. It included a roster, eerily similar to last years, in a familiar struggle to find consistency, ownership problems, and the rather gargantuan elephant in the room that was Brad Richards and the trade deadline.
We foresaw than when the calendar flipped to 2011, the trade rumor mill would ratchet up to high speed, churning out more unsubstantiated tweets than Eklund does the last week of June, people would start their diets and New Years resolutions, and New York Ranger fans would begin their annual, inexplicable Brad Richards watch.
And all of this would be traced back to the sale of the team and Tom Hicks on whose feet the blame would be laid.
It's now January 17th and a "Google News-ing" of "Brad Richards" gets you squat. Bupkis.
John Buccigross seemingly ended any hope of it starting up on Friday, if he's right...
I've been told Brad Richards of the Dallas Stars has been told by Dallas management he will not be traded this year..
The truth, however, is that the Dallas Stars ended the silliness much earlier than that. They ended it with a 5-0-1 streak to start January. They ended with a six game win streak in December. They ended it by starting the season 5-1. Joe Nieuwendyk likes to win, and he was very unlikely to trade his best player with his team in the playoff hunt.
It's not exactly surprising. Last year Nieuwendyk said publicly that the club's record in February before the Olympic break would dictate whether the team was buying or selling at the deadline. They responded with a strong push and Marty Turco remained a Dallas Star even though they'd likely have to let him walk for nothing. Once again, because Joe Nieuwendyk wants to win.
Management has successfully shielded the room from the ownership situation and, aside from a trip to Toronto and Ottawa in November, the Brad Richards circus all year long, but no longer. They keep winning, and thus shield themselves from it by making it a non-factor.
The huge distraction everyone feared would become a problem right around this time of year has instead been reduced to a small group of Leaf and Ranger fans who have shifted their lust to free agency and have convinced themselves that "it's better this way, yeah" because they won't have to part with any assets.