If there is an upside to the end of the Dallas Stars regular season (I know, there really isn't) it's that a certain frankness is injected into the conversation. The secrets dissipate. People start saying what they mean to say, knowing a summer full of change is on the way and it's all going to get carried out with the tide anyway.
For instance "[Marc] realizes that I don't have the confidence that he is the guy, for me, to get to the next level." Wow. That's direct.
Or Adam Burish saying "I was in the hyperbaric chamber every day. I was eating pills, doing whatever I can. Getting shots every game, taking pills just to practice." Honesty! Or the fact that Brenden Morrow was more injured than we knew, and Jamie Benn had some issues as well (which might have explained the slight fall off in his beastliness down the stretch). All very direct, honest answers we don't ordinarily get during the season.
It makes you wonder what kind of honesty one might get after the sale of the team is completed and people want to start telling their side of the story. Such truths, half-truths and slander leak out about the Rangers sale as the time goes by, for instance.
Then there was Brad Richards, who had quite a few honest things to say himself and the issue of ownership was at the forefront.
Talk among the fanbase early in the year and all the way up to the trade deadline was that they might sign Brad Richards at any time. When Trevor Daley's extension was done it gave life to a feeling that a Richards extension was not impossible after all, but I can remember sitting at morning skate in October and hearing various media, insiders, and people with or close to the team privately say that there was no way Richards was ever going to sign anything until the ownership situation was taken care of.
His quotes yesterday prove that to be an accurate sentiment. Let's take a look...
[Credit to ESPN Dallas and the DMN for transcribing some of these quotes. The Brad Richards audio on the Stars media page has been hit or miss loading on my computer and iPhone, so...]
First on the issue at hand, he hasn't been very coy about it since February and he reiterated his position once again...
There's been a little chatter but it's always came back to if I am going to sign and there's no ownership, I am still kind of hesitant. And there may not be ownership by the time I have to make a decision."
Kind of hesitant meaning: There's no way he's signing without know who the man at the top is and what he's going to do about some of this mess.
Then he plays it cool and calming....
"Right now there's no rush, there's nothing that's pressing me. I am going to try to see what happens. If there is no change, it doesn't mean I am leaving. I'll have to make a different type of decision at that time.
A comforting statement in the middle of a pretty wildly shifting paragraph. Right now you're thinking "It doesn't mean that I'm leaving? That sounds good. That sounds like he's open to the possibility of signing without an owner." How did he manage to say all of these things in practically the same breath? Then he throws the cold water back on you again...
Right now it doesn't look like it's going to be in place but, like I said, there's no deadline right now, so I can sit back. I am sure I will talk with Joe here in the next day or two and get a better idea. Then we'll wait and see.
"Right now it doesn't look like it's going to be in place." That's not what you want to hear right now. Our slim hope as a fanbase is that it will indeed be in place. If someone is trying to buy this team they're probably trying to desperately make sure it happens in time to at least take this man out to dinner and say "Hey man, look, this is the plan, won't you stay?" [Which is why we not so secretly hope to have a flurry of activity at the conclusion of the playoffs, before the lenders try to milk the situation too hard and push it too far, running the proverbial clock out]
He goes on, to drive the point home...
"You look around the league teams that are consistently winning, it starts at the top. It's always that way. It makes things clearer for a guy like Joe and what he's doing. How many times have we talked about ownership this year?"
Clearly this is something he feels very strongly about, but to his last point there, how many times have we talked about ownership this year? In the locker rooms here in Dallas, with the local every day media? Shockingly little, really. The ownership situation was a topic seldom broached in my experience. I found it remarkable how little talk about it there seemed to be around the team. Maybe this is an indication that the players themselves do talk about it more than we think, or maybe he's just referring to what's "in the papers."
"There are a lot teams you don't have to talk about, you never talk about it. You just go play hockey and things are always taken care of. ... It just makes everything smoother. You are competing against teams that are going to spend $63 million next year, teams that are in the playoffs now that are Cup contenders and are going to be just as good or better next year. We've got to compete with that. That starts with ownership."
A lot of teams that don't have to talk about it. If he leaves that one will feel like a parting shot as he goes somewhere with a stable situation, leaving this mess behind. I don't think you can totally glean how he really feels about the Stars immediate future specifically, but it's clear what he thinks about their present situation.
That's a lot of pretty straight talk no matter how you slice it. Those people were right in October. He was never going to sign anything until he could shake someone's hand, look him in the eye and know what the plan is. Without a coach the plan is even murkier than before.
He says there that "WE" have to compete with [spending to the cap]. Cliff Lee said "we" a lot too. Just saying.