Those media peoples from the media outlets were out in Frisco gathering a bevy of quotes from players, coaches and front office types on Tuesday. Everyone was cleaning out the lockers and signing each others' yearbooks and promising to keep in touch. What do you mean it's not like high school?
Anyway, there was too much said to not have a place to discuss it all here. So this morning I invite you to take another quick look over their final statements heading into the off-season and speculate on a whole host of topics ranging from Jere Lehtinen's retirement to Brad Richards contract talks and everything in between...
First, to the topic at the top of my list: New ownership. Said GM Joe...[Transcripts from Stars PR and the DMN]
"It's my understanding that prospective buyers are being organized through the league office. I don't know entirely who they all are. I assume they have to be approved through the league office, so I don't have a lot on that subject. It's kind of out of my control.''
"I've never been through an ownership change. I think that this is something that could happen quickly. I know that they are putting groups together. But it's out of my control. I'm under the assumption that we'll be running on the same budget for next year and that's the way we'll operate this summer.''
The last statement there is the one we want people to focus on when they start bringing up their crazy fantasy trade scenarios. No matter how "quickly" an ownership change happens, the financial flood gates will not be opening any time soon. I'm kind of surprised anyone would use the word quickly when describing an ownership change. Maybe they'll surprise us...
Oh so many more quotes after the jump...
He was asked specifically about the defense and said the following...
"I think it's safe to say the strength of our team is at the forward position. We've asked a number of our defensemen to play significant roles early in their careers here. Nicklas Grossman has stepped up and played big minutes this year. Matt Niskanen, I think is probably not where he wants to be in terms of his development. And we've asked those guys to do a lot. Fistric has really stepped his game up, I thought. I thought Daley gave us two really terrific months at the end of the season, played hard and played well for us. We probably asked Stephane Robidas to do too much. We really do. He's a quality guy, quality person and he gives you everything he's got each and every night. We certainly would like to look to help to bolster our blueline.''
It's hard to decode things like this. It's a pretty honest assessment. As honest as he can be. He acknowledged Matt Niskanen's struggles in less colorful terms than we often do, and he gives a slightly backhanded compliment to Trevor Daley. No mention of a couple of guys.
Nieuwy is smart. He watches the games. He watches them more than we do. He knows what needs to happen here. It's just about the money at this point.
On Marc Crawford:
"I'm as committed now with Marc as I was when I hired him last summer. I think with all the ups and downs we've gone through, I think he has learned a lot about our players and our franchise, as well. I fully expect that him and his coaching staff will be much better for it going in to next season.''
On difficulty of players changing styles of play
"It is [difficult]. Obviously when we started the season, the first 15-20 games, I think people were pretty excited about the way we were playing, the pace we were playing. Ideally, we probably don't have all of the personnel to do that. The more difficult and frustrating side of it for me is that we have to do a better job playing on the road. I think that type of style allows you to play that way at home when you can dictate matchups and things like that. We never were able to sustain or find that balance on the road. Our inconsistency, not winning three games in a row all season long, that's an area of concern. I look at a team like the Nashville Predators, where they probably don't have the same amount of talent as us, yet they don't beat themselves. I think in many instances, we have to redefine the way we play, especially on the road.''
Here's why Marc Crawford is going to get at least three seasons with Dallas in my opinion.
After Season 1 You say: It's a new system. It takes time. Let's see how he does in season 2.
After Season 2 You say: Now we have the team sold. Now we can really get some personnel in here and do our thing. Let's see how he does in season 3.
After Season 3? Well that's when the fun part comes. The excuses and the circumstances start changing then, if not during the season.
"I know that Frank [Provenzano] will be having discussions with his agent and we’ll see where it goes. The good thing is we have him under contract for another year. He’s a terrific player and a guy we’d like to go forward with obviously. ... He’s coming off a big number and he’s probably going to remain at a fairly significant number. We just have to determine if were are in the same hemisphere as far as contract and then move forward accordingly."
Brad Richards on getting a deal done:
"Yeah, it matters. Ideally, that’s the best way for a player anyway. It’s something that really hasn’t been in my mind because you can’t do anything about it until the July 1 deadline comes and goes and you can start talking. I haven’t talked to Joe, so I don’t know what their plans are. Ideally you’d like to have something done because it gets different if you’re not signed that last year. There are different ideas you can put in your head. It’s not just the same. But I’ll be ready to play. It’s not going to change my mind. I am not going to whine in the corner if I don’t have a contract extension next year. I am going to come and play. I still want to improve on what I did this year. I’ve got more things to work on. I want to focus on that this summer and focus in on having another good year."
Mark has lot's of good content from yesterday so stop by his blog and check it out.
My feeling (or common sense) is that Joe would like to flesh things out with Brad a little before July 1st, but that ultimately hitting camp without Brad Richards would be a distasteful idea to him either way. It would certainly not be ideal from my standpoint. The guy was their offense this year.
Does he need to take the Richards situation into account when paying Neal? Or is Neal going to be good enough to exist without Brad if need be? I don't know.
A couple of days ago, ESPN NHL guy E.J Hradek had some comments on the Stars season:
Loose defensive play and inconsistent goaltending will lead you to an early vacation. That was the case in Big D. Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk will investigate the trade market during the summer. He'd probably be willing to deal a center like Mike Ribeiro or Brad Richards in the right scenario. The Stars could definitely use some experienced help on the blue line. Of course, the club's ownership situation -- which remains uncertain with Tom Hicks looking to move the club -- could change the dynamic for Nieuwendyk.
Don't Blame Me: Mark Fistric. Somehow, on one of the worst defensive team's in the league, the rugged 23-year-old defenseman finished with a terrific plus-27 rating. There was no one else on the roster close to that number. A first-round pick in 2004, Fistric won't thrill anyone with his puck-moving skill, but he's obviously doing something right as tough, stay-at-home type.
Mark Fistric is getting lots of accolades these days for that incredible +/- number.
We did a little feature on Mark at the end of March, here.
As expected, the Stars will draft 11th in June's NHL entry draft. For some reason, we needed a 30 minute tv special to find out.
"It's pretty tough to talk about, really. There are so many people who I have known for so long here, Mike (Modano), Jere (Lehtinen), Stephane (Robidas), Otter (Steve Ott), my boy (Brenden Morrow), and not just the players but the other guys like the training staff. They do so much for you, especially a goalie. There are so many people who directly affect your career and your life, and I have been with this group for my entire career. That's one that if you move, you know you are going to miss those guys.''
"He's my best friend and my neighbor and we've known each other really since we've been here, so it will be tough,'' Morrow said. ``But we're professionals and we'll move on. We understand it's a job, but sometimes that job is tough.''
That one kills me. It's sucks losing such a good friend like that. It's a long off-season though. I'm sure Brenden will have his head right come September.