Ever since the Dallas Stars moved to the Metroplex, broadcaster Ralph Strangis has been a part of the fan experience. But Dallas Morning News reporter is speculating there's a possibility this season could be Strangis' last with the team.
In a column published today on DallasNews.com, Horn lays out the situation as follows:
For openers, Strangis, who calls both television and radio during Stars’ simulcasts, never has gone into the final season of a contract without having agreed to an extension or was already late in the game of negotiations.
Now, it’s four weeks until the Stars open training camp and Strangis and the team are not talking. Haven’t been for awhile. Strangis is weighing his options. He’s hired an agent. That can only mean he’s considering moving on.
Horn follows that up with the fact that color commentator and walking thesaurus Daryl Reaugh is also entering the last year of his contract without an extension finalized yet, but that negotiation seems to be proceeding without much drama.
Let's start with this - it's extremely early to be taking long walks off short cliffs. Contract negotiations where both sides feel they have leverage are often nasty deals, as we saw last year with Jamie Benn and coming out of the 2004-05 lockout with Mike Modano. Many times, both sides feel the best deal will only happen when time is of the absolute essence. I'm not sure we've reached that point yet.
The fact that neither side wants to negotiate in public is also cautiously optimistic. From Horn's column:
Here’s all that Strangis offered on his status Friday morning: "We both have a common objective and I hope we can get there."
Here’s what Jason Walsh, the Stars executive who oversees broadcasting, said: "We long have thought we have a really good broadcast team….I hope we have a long-term professional future (with Strangis)."
That said, Horn is an extremely well-sourced reporter when it comes to all things DFW media. He was the one who broke the story about BaD Radio's possible departure from The Ticket just a few months ago. When he's confident enough to publish a story like this, there's definitely some sort of fire lurking underneath the smoke.
The other bit of news out of Horn's column is that the Stars are apparently close to terms with Fox Sports Southwest for an 11-year extension worth $250 million. That extension would begin after the 2013-14 season.
Of course, the biggest worry is the speculation about Strangis. Ralph and Razor have been one of the premier broadcasting teams in the league since 1996. They're such an institution in the Metroplex that they were one of just two crews in the league last season, along with the Buffalo Sabres, that simulcast games on television and radio. A Stars game is just not a Stars game without Ralph and Razor, whether you're listening in your car or watching your television.
Again, there's an awful long way to go yet. Contract negotiations are the pits, especially when there's a gap in perceived value. As we saw with the BaD Radio negotiations, things can work out when all hope seems lost - and this almost certainly has not not reached that point yet. But I think I speak for most Stars fans when I say this speculation definitely does not sit well.