The Dallas Stars season is set to finally begin within the next two weeks, with the first game tentatively scheduled for Jan. 19 at home. Seeing as how the Stars have firmly fallen far, far out of the minds of sports fans in Dallas during the lockout, the team sent it's top emissaries on a media blitz on Monday as Daryl Reaugh, Jim Lites and Joe Nieuwendyk all appeared on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket.
Razor got the party started with The Musers, who certainly had some interesting things to say.
"I think that was the underlying factor here as they were swapping lawsuits with one another as really the drop dead date deadline was looming," Razor said, when asked about the lockout not being allowed to take away the season. "If this went on another week, there's no way they could fit a meaningful season. The league couldn't do that. How could you do that?
"I think that was the pressure on their side. That's a lot of money. The players gave up north of $800 million in salaries just in the time they were part of this time. This way they salvage part of their income... then if you make the playoffs, there's a playoff pool and there's a big payday at the end of that."
Razor also touched on an issue that isn't getting as much attention -- that there could be some serious injury concerns considering the wide range of activity players have enjoyed during the last four months.
"I mean, it's all over the map," said the Stars play by play guru. "You mentioned Jagr, he owns a team in Czech and he played for that team. There were young guys who played over in various locales in Europe. Loui Eriksson played in Switzerland, Jamie Benn played in Germany... and a lot of the younger guys were playing in the AHL. But you're right, there were a lot of veterans that were idle. They played scrimmage games against one another and stayed in good health but that's very different than an NHL game... Camp will only by 5-7 days long and then we'll start playing games and trainers will start treating soft tissue injuries immediately.
"I think it's an intriguing experiment that will go on here in the next few months."
Dallas Stars President and CEO Jim Lites jumped on for a few good minutes with Norm Hitzges, and he also expanded on the concerns about injuries in a short and intense season.
"I can't imagine with one week of training camp, as much as our players stay in shape... I will tell you I imagine that it will be a testament to the quality of the coaching staff how quick you can get your team up and going, and you will invariably will have problems with injuries," said Lites. "I think 8-10 of our players in the AHL will play games in (Dallas) this season."
We'll have much, much more from Mr. Lites on Tuesday and Wednesday on DBD.
Bob Sturm of BaD Radio got the Joe Nieuwendyk interview off the right way, asking the question that is on everyone's minds -- how quickly can the Dallas Stars sign Jamie Benn?
"I've stayed in touch with the particular agent you're probably talking about, but we don't know exactly what the rules are yet," said Nieuwendyk, referring to the new CBA. "We haven't seen the agreement... the NHL hopes to get it out to us by tomorrow mid-day, so that plays into where our conversations can go. Obviously we have a few priorities at the top of our list that we need to get taken care of.
"It's a big deal. We've been motivated to get him signed, and I think Jamie is also motivated to sign. So we'll engage in that as quickly as we can."
There has been a lot of anger surrounding this lockout, all of it justified, that the NHL locked out the players for nearly four months and lost a good chunk of the season. What was most frustrating was that the end result -- the new CBA -- doesn't look all that different from what was on the table way back in October. This has led to talk about the "stupidest lockout in sports history," a fact that Sturm brought up with the Stars GM.
"I would agree with that, and I think on my side of the fence it's not a lot different to be honest with you," said Nieuwendyk. "We were waiting as well. We weren't getting updated especially in the last month as they went behind closed doors and started to hammer this thing out... It was a long, difficult process and at some point people tuned it out and said just called me when it's over.
"I know we're excited and our players, the seven who were in skating today in Frisco, are excited to get going to the start of training camp."
Nieuwendyk also spoke of possible realignment, saying that it was an "extremely hot topic" that was discussed, but that it will have to wait until next season. The Stars are one of several teams (Winnipeg being the main one) that is in desperate need of realignment to ease on travel concerns. With the Stars playing a division-heavy, Western Conference schedule this season the team is going to be stretched to the max when it comes to travel -- especially when compared to the East.
The general manager dropped a bit of an interesting statement, saying that the team is considering bringing up a few high-profile prospects. The Stars GM said that bringing the two prospects up is a possibility, if nothing else than to get them some exposure to NHL hockey. One would think that neither would actually break camp with the team, although Nieuwendyk mentioned that it would be good to "expose them to the fans" so take that as you will.
Bob and Dan had a very lengthy interview with Nieuwendyk, which you can listen to here. He also mentioned that it was Benn that wanted to wait on the new contract, and that he expects to start the season at home on Jan. 19. No teams have seen a schedule just yet, however.
Finally, he also confirmed that the Stars are going to be looking to re-sign Derek Roy as the season gets moving along again.