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Stargazing: Thursday edition

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In this edition of Stargazing we take a look at the Dallas Stars future in the city of Dallas, Jere Lehtinen is gearing up for a healthy return next season and Sean Avery may have worn out his welcome in New York already.

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Mike Heika, in his ongoing "rolling mailbag" feature, answers a reader's email that question whether the team could possible move to Las Vegas if Tom Hicks were to give up control of the franchise.

Forbes ranks The Stars as the sixth most valuable franchise in the NHL at $273 million.

The reason for that is because of things like arena lease, television contracts and ability to make money. The Stars have the infrastructure in place to run a profitable franchise. There is no way the NHL is going to allow a team that is relatively successful to move.

In addition, teams such as Phoenix are also for sale. The Coyotes franchise value is $142 million (30th in the NHL). So if you were a buyer trying to buy a team and move it to Las Vegas or Ontario, which would you try to buy?

Mark Stepneski takes a look at the six Dallas Stars players, as well as coach Dave TIppett, who are participating in the World Championships that start this Friday in Switzerland.

The tournament, which runs from April 24 through May 10, features 16 teams that will be eventually whittled down to eight teams that will enter a single elimination playoff round.

Tippett, who is serving as an associate coach for Canada, sees it as a good opportunity for the Stars' younger players.

"Every experience a young player can have like this, especially where you have some of the best players in the world, can only help you," Tippett said. "Playing games where every play counts just enhances their ability to do it in the NHL. I think it is a great opportunity for young guys."

Here is the list of who will be representing the Dallas Stars:

Loui Eriksson (Sweden)
Nicklas Grossman (Sweden)
Joel Lundqvist (Sweden)
Matt Niskanen (USA)
James Neal (Canada)
Philip Larsen (Denmark)
Dave Tippett, associate coach (Canada)

Jere Lehtinen is looking forward to healing over the summer and returning to the Dallas Stars next season. Lehtinen, who will be a free agent on July 1st, understands he will have to take a pay cut and says he just wants to play.

"I haven’t thought about it that far, but for me, that’s never been the issue," Lehtinen said, "because I want to be part of this team and be on a top team again and that’s my main thing. And we have it here. We have good players, we have an organization that’s good, so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue."

Lehtinen had to deal with a multitude of injuries this past season, including a scary nerve injury in his neck.

"It was quite frightening," Lehtinen told the Finnish magazine Veikkaaja. "It is extremely hard to be hurt again after the long rehabilitating. It seems that it is always more difficult to do the return."

Lehtinen, who decided not play for Finland at the World Championship in Switzerland because of injuries, said there needs to be improvement with the neck/nerve issue before he can think about hockey next season.

"Doctors have said that nerve injuries improve with time, but the final improvement is difficult to predict," Lehtinen said.

"Dallas is the number one option," Lehtinen said. "I have not thought of going elsewhere at all."

Freshly signed Philip Larsen says that he plans on making the NHL club next season but if not, he is open to playing in either the AHL or returning to Sweden.

"If I'm not good enough [for the NHL] this year, there are two possibilities. Either I will come back to Frölunda, or I'd be over there and start on the farm team in AHL, the Texas Stars. That hasn't been resolved yet," Larsen told Sporten.dk, a Danish sports web site.

Toby Petersen, and some Ice Girls, donated some time this past weekend to help out with the 31st annual Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's.

This year, the Plano location was raising awareness for the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County, since April is also Child Abuse Awareness Month.

"We can help get the word out and we’re able to let everybody know that child abuse is not just a national issue, it’s a local issue. It’s very local even inside of Collin County," said Hunter Rose, Ice Cream Czar of the Plano and Highland Village scoop shops. "Locally, we partner with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County and if someone wants to drop a dollar or so inside the bucket, that’s great, if not, we’re really here just to get the word out."

 

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Sean Avery's return to the New York Rangers has been nothing short of spectacular. After being dismissed from the Dallas Stars he was unwanted by the rest of the NHL, except for New York. They took another chance on Avery and he gave enough of a spark to the team that helped propel them into the playoffs.

But perhaps he has worn out his welcome.

But Wednesday, off the rails he went. In the first period, Avery squirted water on TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, who was rinkside. In the third, with 9:39 left and the Rangers clinging to a 2-1 lead over the dangerous Washington Capitals, Avery hit defenceman Milan Jurcina in the face, and was given two minutes for roughing. It was, without question, a needless and heedless play.

So with just over three minutes remaining, Avery pushed his luck again, high-sticking Brian Pothier.


Avery spent the rest of the game either in the box, or alone at the end of the bench, looking like a kid who can't figure out why he's being punished. If Henrik Lundqvist had not played his Swedish behind off, Avery could have cost his team a 3-1 series lead.

Avery had already had a rough game in Monday night's loss and had the Madison Square Garden turning on him. It will be interesting to see how he is treated if he keeps this up.

Calgary Flames forward Andre Roy has been suspended one game by the NHL after initiating contact with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Aaron Johnson during pre-game warmups Wednesday night.

New Jersey Devils Captain Jamie Langenbrunner will miss his third straight game tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Martin Brodeur speaks about his crybaby outburst following Tuesday's last-second loss to Carolina.

“I saw what you did last night, Daddy,” Brodeur recalled.

The goaltender then asked his daughter what he did. She refused to say.

“So I said: ‘OK, I won’t do it again, sorry,”’ Brodeur said with a laugh indicative of a proud father

He still believes the bump on the play was a penalty, although it's based on what he believes should be the rule.

“I still believe if I get position, regardless of whether it is blue ice or white ice, whatever they call it, they should not be able to hit me or touch me,” he said. “I think looking at it, I don’t think it’s worth calling a penalty, but there is a rule about incidental contact outside your crease. There is a whistle, you know, and the play is stopped dead."

Copper and Blue wants the Edmonton Oilers to get in on the bidding action for Jonas Gustavsson.

Brent Burns' agent is accusing the Minnesota Wild of negligence, claiming the team continued to play Burns even though he had suffered a concussion. He makes this claim after talking with his client six weeks after the supposed injury.

"He's telling me how, 'Ronny, I'm an avid reader and I'm not able to read on the bus anymore. I get headaches that go all around my head. I can't sleep. During the game, I'm not focusing. I feel like everything is happening, but I'm reacting slow. I go, 'Brent, are you kidding me? You've got a concussion. You cannot play. You cannot play anymore!'

"He's so loyal to the team, he was afraid. He said, 'I don't want to tell them that. I don't want to burn a bridge.' I said, 'Burn a bridge? They just exploded one on you. You cannot play.'"

"They said he had sinusitis. I mean, come on," Salcer said. "I'm not a doctor, but I've been around the game for over 30 years. It took me three minutes to know that he had a concussion. How they cannot know for six weeks is amazing."

The Wild shut down Burns the day after the lunch meeting between the defensemen and his agent.

Alex Ovechkin tells Capitals fans to keep their faith after reading some heated responses to the team's loss on the internet.

"Nobody's going to believe it, but, you know, I like to go to our fan club message boards," Ovechkin said after the Capitals' practice Thursday afternoon at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. "They say, 'OK, like, what's next?' 'What do we have to do?' 'Trade him.' 'Build new team.' It's kind of an interesting situation."

"I just want to see how our fans react," he said. "Of course, they're not happy, but we're not happy either. But it is what it is. We lost three games. I think we played good enough in the games, but one guy beats our team."