This morning on the DMN Stars blog, Heika posted a quick question and answer with a Stars fan who sent in an angry email. Here's the highlights of that email:
I sat and watched a few minutes of both the Boston and Chicago games last night. One thing became instantly obvious to me _ the Stars could not compete at that level with either team. The skill level of that team is amazing, especially when you consider that as recently as three years ago, they couldn't play with anybody. It speaks volumes about where the Stars really are. This crud about them being a team that could go far into the playoffs if they could only be healthy is myth.
The state of this team can be laid directly at the feet of its coach and management.
Follow the jump for my reaction, as well as Heika's stance.
So, my first reaction to reading Larry's email was that he pretty much answered his own question. Chicago has been at the bottom of it's division and conference for the past five years and have only made the playoffs once since 1997. So the Hawks have had the ability to build their team through a flurry of top ten draft picks. After several years of futility their work is finally starting to pay off.
The same goes for the Bruins. Dead last in their division the past two seasons and just one playoff series win since 1994. That's a lot of time to change things around periodically until you finally find a system that works, as well as find the right combination of players.
The Stars, on the other hand, have been one of the most successful teams in the NHL since 1998 if not one of the most consistent. One of the "tough" issues to deal with when your team is consistently at the top of the conference is that you are constantly working with late first round picks. It requires a completely different strategy to building your team.
And it's not like the Stars don't have young talent coming up (See: Neal, Eriksson, Benn, Scevior, Conner, Vishnevskiy).
Sometimes Stars fans must decide what they want. Do you think the Dallas Stars fanbase, as fickle as it is, could handle a couple more seasons of no playoff appearances while th Stars look to rebuild?
And Heika feels the same way:
The salary cap has created a world where the Stars are not far from being competitive.
Look at the Anaheim-San Jose series.
The Stars played a heck of a game at Anaheim to close the season with pretty much half of an AHL lineup, and it was a win the Ducks really needed. Do you honestly believe that if the Stars were playing San Jose or Anaheim at full strength, they wouldn't be right in those series?
So much would depend on Marty Turco, but I believe he would be a much better player if the team in front of him was much better. I also believe that Brenden Morrow has a way of getting the best out of Turco, and he would make a huge difference in the attitude and accountability of this team if he was healthy.
Would they have match-up problems with Boston and Chicago? Yes, definitely. But so will San Jose, and they won the Presidents' Trophy. Boston is a good team with a GM who probably had the best off-season in hockey. Chicago is a young team built on five years of high drafts. They are two very tough teams. So if you are trying to build the perfect NHL team and are frustrated the Stars have not done that (while not drafting higher than 25th for a decade, I might add), I understand. But to say this team is in horrible shape when it has a solid group of veteran players (Morrow, Richards, Ribeiro, Turco, Robidas, Ott) and some very good youth (Neal, Eriksson, Brunnstrom, Grossman, Niskanen, Daley, Fistric), I think that's an over-exaggeration.
If you want to change the coach and go with someone more strict, I'm fine with that. If you want to reduce the country club atmosphere, I'm fine with that (I think that will happen simply because of the economic situation surrounding owner Tom Hicks). Those are important changes, and they could make the franchise better. But the NHL is a balanced league now, and the teams that get hot at the right time are the teams that win.
Heika had much, much more to say on the subject and makes a great point about how no model for winning is sports is ever 100% certain to succeed.