Dallas Stars fans held their collective breath for hours today as trades and speculation rolled in on Twitter and the NHL Network. Steve Ott's name would simply not go away, and some national media members had as many as 10 teams interested in the pesky Stars forward that could be a huge addition for those who feel they're truly contenders.
In the end the man who has at least become one of the biggest faces of this franchise stayed put, and Nicklas Grossman left as the only casualty of the 2012 NHL Trade Deadline.
"No moves today," said Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk. "Pretty uneventful day league-wide, it seemed. I think our plan has been consistent. We weren't going to do anything unless it made sense for now and for the futture going forward. Nothing in that regard really presented itself."
The question heading into the deadline was: Can the Stars afford to be swayed by the four-game win streak and possibility of slipping into the post-season, or should their gaze stay fixed firmly on the horizon (the future)?
When asked if things would have been different had the club continued to lose last week, Joe Nieuwendyk said "I think yeah, you would have made the evaluation a little different, for sure, but again, nothing would have been done unless it was good for us moving forward whether it was three weeks ago or even today."
Last year he was able to find a happy middle ground with his team in the hunt when he acquired Alex Goligoski to help the team in both the long and short terms and it seems the plan was similar this time around, but the value they wanted wasn't there.
"There's no doubt that I'm pleased with the way we've been playing lately and I know we have a tough road ahead, but I think it's also a message to this team that we do believe in them and that this group has shown some resliency."
We'll never know exactly what Joe Nieuwendyk could have gotten in return and for which players, but it's clear that he's placed at least some measure of trust in this group and in their big week leading up to the deadline. A tough (very tough) March schedule now stands between them and repaying his faith, but at least for their sake they know now that they'll face it together.
Much more from Joe Nieuwendyk after the jump...
The exhalation from players like Sheldon Souray and Steve Ott was palpable as both took to Twitter just minutes after the deadline passed by to express their relief at the Stars inactivity.
"I'm sure if you talked to some of our players they were probably a little nervous and uptight about the situation," said Joe Nieuwendyk when asked if the deadline had anything to do with the team's recent performance.
"Maybe that focuses you a little more, but I think that there's been a real commitment to playing for one another and becoming a team here in the last two to three weeks and whether or not that was because of this trade deadline, I don't know, but maybe it did factor in."
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun tweeted just minutes after 2:00pm Central passed that the Stars took a lot of calls on both Steve Ott and Sheldon Souray but in the end didn't get what they wanted and decided to keep both.
Was there anything close to getting done?
"I would say there were a couple of things on the table that took a lot of time to sort through, but at the end of the day we had a responsibility to put the best team on the ice right now to challenge for the playoffs and we didn't want to risk moving anything that would not help us as far as the return moving into the future."
The desired return on Steve Ott figured to be a big offensive cog that could figure into the team's core moving forward for years, but the return for Souray was a little cloudier. A market that saw the Chicago Blackhawks trade a 2nd and a 3rd rounder to Winnipeg for Johnny Oduya had many wondering what sort of payment (or overpayment?) could have been made for Souray, but we'll never know.
Perhaps Souray's absence these last few weeks hurt his value enough, or perhaps, after having already moved Nicklas Grossman, Joe Nieuwendyk didn't want his team to have to push for a playoff spot with Adam Pardy or AHL callups in the lineup every night.
When asked how important making the playoffs is in light of what happened today, Nieuwendyk kept his eye on the big picture.
"It's always the goal," Nieuwendyk said of making the playoffs. "I think our big picture goal is to be a team that doesn't just sit in this 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th spot. We want to be consistently one of the top teams and that's where we hope to get to, but for right now I think this team has shown that they're committed to each other and they're going to fight hard to get to the playoffs."
Tom Gaglardi has said that the team will add payroll and Joe Nieuwendyk said they would be active around the deadline, but for now we're all going to have to wait a little longer to watch their vision unfold. This time they resisted the urge to overpay and make a big splash. They didn't let any assets go the other way for pennies on the dollar either. They kept an even keel. It might not make for good internet chat fodder, but it might be the right way to go in building a winner in the long term.
In the mean time they'd like you to remember that they have some good news where the roster is concerned on the horizon.
"We've got some pretty good players coming back to us in Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn so let's not forget about that either," added Nieuwendyk. "I think that with the energy Ryan Garbutt has given us, we have some pieces that are going to help us moving forward."
The question now becomes: Did they push so hard last week because of the looming deadline? To keep the team together? And can they continue to do so now that it's passed by?