When I was in kindergarden, for our little graduation play we had a choice between two fantastic classics: Chicken Little and The Little Red Hen. As one of the more
talkative outgoing members of the class, my teacher had me as the lead and the class got to choose which play we did depending on my reading of it. I didn't make a very good Chicken Little -- shouting "the sky is falling!" just doesn't suit my personality. I still ended up in a chicken costume (and yes there is picture proof and no you won't get to see it.)
A cursory glance over comments from around the twittersphere and blogosphere shows that over the course of the last few days, Stars fans have started doing their best Chicken Little impressions. Except instead of "the sky is falling!" we're seeing a lot of "next season is going to be terrible without Brad Richards!" and "why aren't we in on getting Jeff Carter or Mike Richards traded to Dallas?!" and "why haven't we signed any free agents when other teams have?!"
We have a lot of reasons to feel this way, no doubt. The ownership situation drags on, we're losing one of our top forwards to free agency, and GM Joe Nieuwendyk is off to the draft and may pull another draft pick that we don't see coming (much like with Jack Campbell last year.) It's been a rough, long two years waiting and hoping and getting punched in the face repeatedly waiting for this ownership ridiculousness to pass by.
But today, I am offering up some hope to Stars fans. After the jump, a sampling of what there is to look forward to and some thoughts on why being quieter in the trade and free agency frenzy is actually good for this franchise.
First, I'm going to give you a few awesome things to look forward next to next year:
- Jamie Benn (do you need an explanation as to why? Oh you do? See here, here and here. Soak in the glory that is the Benn.)
- Ownership will get resolved. It may not be when Stars fans want it to be done (let's be real here, it would have been best to have this thing settled the day the team went up for sale.) The complexity of the insane amount of debt and financials that goes with this team are probably well beyond what many people are thinking when they say "get this team sold." Would you rather them get it done, or get it done right? I'm going with the "get it done right" option, and if that takes this entire summer to be done right, I'll be patient(ish).
- Mike Ribeiro will continue to be an absolute wizard with the puck.
- Brenden Morrow will continue to be the captain that this team needs, leading by example and ensuring that the team is united in their fight for the playoffs.
- Stars fans are lucky to have some of the best color commentators in the league in Ralph and Razor. And you get to hear them for 82 games (give or take a few) next season! **Disclaimer: if you don't get Stars broadcasts, I'm sorry you may not get to hear R&R. You have my condolences.
- GM Joe Nieuwendyk will continue to make trades and signings that will provide long term success for this franchise. #InJoeITrust
- Youngsters. Some of the young players will start really coming into their own. Goose, Grossman, Benn, Vincour, Wandell - all are under 27. The Stars roster is going to probably end up with an average age of 26. That has to be exciting in a game that is geared towards young guns.
- Razor on Twitter! (Ok, so it hasn't happened yet but he's leaning towards it. If his campaign gets 1,069 "likes" on Facebook he'll join Twitter to give us 140 characters of "five knuckle meat soothers" and the like. So make it happen Stars fans!)
The even better news is that Joe doesn't have to go all Philly on our team and start trading away pieces to make room for other pieces. We have cap space. We HAVE to spend at least $10M to get to the floor, so additions will be made. But Niuewendyk isn't going to make a move to make a move. He's going to ensure that any one that is signed here has a contract that is reasonable, and will not harm our ability to make moves in the future. Remember, the CBA expires after next season, and who knows what changes might come of the new CBA that might make these long term deals much less appealing. (Jeff Carter has an 11 year contract with a NTC that kicks in this season. That's a lot of years to have someone locked up with a potential of never moving again. It's a risk the Columbus Blue Jackets were willing to take, but would you want that kind of contract when he doesn't produce at the same level in the later years or you can't put the pieces around him to make it worth your while to keep him at that salary level?)
It's in the franchise's best interests not to get caught up in the frenzy of free agency and trades so as to avoid any contracts that are ridiculous. Joe Nieuwendyk has a plan, knows how to get there, and hasn't really steered us wrong yet. Keep the faith, Stars fans! It'll be a fun ride, and I look forward to taking it with you.