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Stargazing: Steve Ott Has Appendectomy, Ribeiro Activated from IR

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Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars  and NHL news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

Good news about Mike Ribeiro this morning quickly turned to bad news about Steve Ott and Mark Fistric this afternoon.

Ribeiro has been getting closer for some time, practicing with the team and skating hard on his own in Frisco, and this morning the Stars finally activated him from IR. Curiously, they also re-called Francis Wathier and Ray Sawada from Austin. I had assumed the influx of bodies was going to be Mike Modano or Jere Lehtinen related, but it turns out that everyone's favorite agitator extraordinaire Steve Ott had an emergency appendectomy this morning.

The Morning News and Mark Stepneski both say that Otter is fine, and that the Stars hope to get him back by the time the Olympic break is over. For comparison, take the St. Louis Blues' T.J. Oshie, who had an appendectomy on October 24th. He returned to game action on November 5th, less that two weeks after the surgery. We don't know if Otter will heal that fast, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he will be ready for their March 2nd contest against Los Angeles at the AAC when the season cranks back up.

Meanwhile Mark Fistric's knee is sufficiently bad that he needs to have it scoped. The Stars will call up a defenseman from Austin this week. Personally I expect it to be Maxime Fortunus.

So how does this affect the lines? How many minutes will Mike Ribeiro be able to handle? Why did the Benn/Morrow/Ott line have to end so soon? Follow the jump for all of this and more...

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Here is what Heika has to say about the lines:

Mike Ribeiro (throat) is expected to play Tuesday in Chicago. Marty Turco will be in goal.

Marc Crawford really like Jeff Woywitka in the last game, so he'll stay in for Fistric and the Stars will call up another defenseman from the Texas Stars (AHL). Crawford has liked Jamie Benn with Brenden Morrow, so he'll move Jere Lehtinen up to the line with Benn and Morrow, and then play Ribeiro on the fourth line. Ribeiro might only see 10 minutes in spot situations Tuesday as he tries to return after missing 15 games with a throat injury.

It will make for some interesting shuffling.

How huge is this loss of Ott for this most critical road trip of the season? Everyone (including Joe Nieuwendyk) has been stressing just how important this three game segment is to the teams mentality moving forward, specifically regarding any action at the trade deadline. In addition to recent offensive contributions, Steve Ott has been the teams emotional spark plug. They'll have to learn to do without while trying to get over their massive road complex.

Note that Marty Turco will make his 4th consecutive start tomorrow night in Chicago.

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The Mike Ribeiro return will be a tentative one:

In fact, Ribeiro said he's looking forward to getting out of his "conditioning" routine and getting back to the normal world of hockey. Not only does he live for the rush and excitement of games, he's also not a huge fan of the bag skates designed to improve aerobic capacity.

"It's easier to play than practice, so I'd rather play than practice," he said with a smile. "It feels like training camp, and it's never fun at training camp."

Ribeiro said he feels good physically and that one of the biggest challenges will be the mental battle to engage in play, where sticks, skates and pucks will fly around with the potential to hit him in the throat. He will wear a throat guard, but there still will be the instinct to protect the injury.

"It's still not healed 100 percent, but I'm breathing well and skating well, and it's just a matter of getting hit and getting through that fear of getting hit in that same spot," he said. "The only way to face that fear is by playing."

Given Ribeiro's famous penchant for wanting to stay out on the ice as long as humanly possible, their 10-12 minute plan will be up to Marc Crawford to enforce. If he feels well enough, Mike will certainly want to play a lot longer than that, and I wouldn't mind seeing him out there for every power play.

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Maybe not Stars related, but I thought you all would like to know that Bob Gainey is stepping down in Montreal:

The Montreal Canadiens have called a news conference at 4 p.m. ET Monday and are expected to announce Bob Gainey will step down as vice-president and general manager.

Gainey, a former Canadien, began his managerial career within the Minnesota North Stars/Dallas Stars organization as a head coach and eventually took over as general manager.

In May 2003, Gainey returned to the Canadiens as vice-president and general manager.

Over his five seasons (241-176-7-46), Montreal made the playoffs four times.

However, the team failed to advance past the second round during his tenure as GM

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Here's the Press Release for the Ribeiro activation, Sawada, Wathier call-ups:

Frisco, Tex. - The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has activated center Mike Ribeiro from injured reserve. He suffered a throat injury against New York Rangers on Jan. 6 and was placed on injured reserve the following day. Dallas has also recalled right wing Raymond Sawada and left wing Francis Wathier from the Texas Stars, Dallas' primary development affiliate in the American Hockey League (AHL).

Ribeiro, 29, has missed 15 games since his injury against the Rangers. He has skated in 43 contests so far this season, collecting 33 points (10g, 23a). Since he joined Dallas in 2006-07, the 6-0, 173-pound center has played in 282 games, accruing 253 points (77g, 176a) and leading the Stars in points in each of the previous three seasons. Before he was injured, Ribeiro had played in 125 consecutive games. He had not missed a game since the 2007-08 season, having played in 75 or more games in each of the past five campaigns. The Montreal native was acquired via trade with the Montreal Canadiens on Sep. 30, 2006.

Sawada, 24, has played in five games for Dallas this season, recording two shots. He has skated in 36 games for Texas this season, collecting three goals and six assists. The Richmond, British Columbia native scored 76 points (31g, 45a) over 137 games during four years at Cornell University. He was Dallas' second round selection (52nd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Wathier, 25, made his NHL debut this season with Dallas and has dressed in two games for the club this season, accruing five penalty minutes and three shots. He has spent the majority of this season with the Texas Stars, where he has played in 50 games, recording 23 points (11g, 12a) and 76 PIM. The 6-4, 208-pound left wing was Dallas' sixth round selection (185th overall) at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

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The Morning News has a good story about the possible change in ownership. Here are some player quotes:

"Change happens in sports, and it just seems like it's time for change," said Modano, who at 39 could be in his final season as a player but said he hopes to be a part of the franchise long into the future. "I think all of us are encouraged and interested in seeing what happens next."

"As players, that's all we can do," he said. "There's a lot of people above you making a lot of decisions, whether that be the coach, the GM or the owner, and there's nothing you can do about it as a player. You just have to concentrate on doing your job."

"You have to focus on your job, because that's going to help more than anything," said defenseman Stephane Robidas. "If you play well individually, we'll play well as a team. If we play well, we have a better chance to win. If we win, things will work out for us."

 

"I think you ask a lot of players, and they would love to play for the Dallas Stars. This team has a very good reputation in the league," Robidas said. "I think there is so much good that we have already built, and we just have to continue to build like we have."

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And in an effort to look forward to the Olympics, here's a little on our best shot for hockey gold: The USA Womens team[ESPN]:

"We're definitely playing the best hockey that we've played throughout the tour. Hopefully, we'll have a little extra step in our feet once we get to Vancouver," Vetter said. "We're happy where we're at right now. We're all in a good place and we're excited."

Although the Americans are currently ranked No. 1 in the world and have won back-to-back world championships, they're the second seed at the Olympics behind Canada because the Winter Games were seeded based on 2008 world rankings -- and Finland is No. 3.

Canada, which is the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist, has beaten the Americans seven times in 10 games during the 2009-2010 season, leaving the U.S. team to embrace an underdog role.

"We're going to Canada and we're in their barn, so I think that they're the favorites right now," Lawler said. "But you know what, I have a lot of confidence in our team and I think we're in a really good spot."

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Check out Andrew's Stars Page, who has a good breakdown of the points pace in the West:

The Stars, who picked up four of six points (2-1-0), saw their points pace increase from 88 to 89.

For the Stars to hit 93 points they would have to go six games over .500 in their final 24 games. That would be a record of 15-9-0, 14-8-2, 13-7-4, etc.

To hit 94 points, they would need to be seven games over .500 in the final 24 games. That would take a record of 15-8-1, 14-7-3, 13-6-5, etc.