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Deconstructing Local Media Reactions To Dallas Stars' Offseason


"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up."
― Hunter S. Thompson

Sometimes you read a phrase that is so mind blowing that it is either incredibly profound or stunningly confusing. This happened to me, and I would like to share my story with you. This actually happened. Mac Engel wrote this (among many other things that we'll get to shortly) on July 2nd:

This continues the bizarre offseason of the Dallas Stars. They are getting rid of several of their better key parts that led to four consecutive playoff-less seasons in exchange for ... guys.

I've given this and the subsequent statements Engel made in his blog post more thought than they really deserve due to some mix of masochism, neurosis, and general confusion. It's a confusing directionless post apparently done in response to the outcry of Stars fans.

This is not the type of offseason impact Stars' fans were hoping for when Tom Gaglardi bought the team.


79% of you disagree with what he's saying, but we'll momentarily ignore that. The local news media response to the Stars offseason (outside of Nostradamus Heika predicting everything that has happened) has been strange to say the least. It has been some unidentifiable mix of misinformation, a lack of understanding, laziness, and/or carelessness. After the jump we'll consider the scattered ideas Engel presented, and try to add more context to what Tim Cowlishaw is talking about.

"All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher." -- Ambrose Bierce

Consider that first quote again.

This continues the bizarre offseason of the Dallas Stars. They are getting rid of several of their better key parts that led to four consecutive playoff-less seasons in exchange for ... guys.

Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott left in trades. Sheldon Souray, Adam Burish, Radek Dvorak and Jake Dowell are the biggest free agents who have signed with other clubs or, in the case of Dvorak, are unlikely to come back. The Souray loss is going to be difficult for the Stars to overcome, but since he isn't mentioned once in the post I'm going to assume Engel was referring to Ribeiro and Ott.

But further in the post Engel tells me this:

Dumping Mike Ribeiro was addition by subtraction.

That's a fairly generic statement backed up with no proof (if you would like a more detailed reasoning click here), but the implications are clear. The Stars got better by kicking Ribeiro to curb without considering any of the tangible benefits to the deal (bigger role for Benn, adding Cody Eakin, and picking up a useful 2nd round pick). Given Ribeiro's worthlessness, the Stars basically removed Ott from the roster while adding Eakin, Derek Roy, and Ray Whitney. The "guys". Engel had this to say about them:

Adding Ray Whitney is a fingers-crossed move that maybe at 40 he can be a 70-point player.
Derek Roy is a hope.

Read more here:

Whitney is a concern at 40 years old, but the Stars are fools if they're hoping Whitney will put up 70 points. I don't think they've given any indication that they expect him to do that. As I've pointed out, a 40 year old has scored 65 or more points only seven times in NHL history. Ray Whitney is a borderline hall of famer. I'm not going to expect him to produce 70 or even 60 points, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if he did. He will add value by improving the transition game.

The Stars do have legitimate reasons to expect that level of production out of a healthy Roy though. In his career he's averaged .78 points per game to Ribeiro's .77. He played in 80 games last year and got on the board 44 times while working through his injury issues. If he's healthy, and the Stars think he is, then they have more than replaced Ribeiro's production with Roy alone. But, that isn't saying much since moving Ribeiro was addition by subtraction.

The aspect of the first quote from Engel that swirled around my head prior to writing this was the absurdity of the statement. The Stars dealt some of their key players that couldn't make the playoffs for four years for "guys". Engel made sure to tell us they weren't very good, and points out that the key players on a bad team who weren't very good only got, in his estimation, "guys" in return. What kind of return should the Stars have expected? He praises Ott and Ribeiro as, in essence, the tallest dwarves, but then chastises them for being short. It's either brilliant or insane, and it quite possibly straddles the line between both states.

Engel saved some ammunition for the final paragraph:

This is not the type of offseason impact Stars' fans were hoping for when Tom Gaglardi bought the team. These moves suggest the new owner is listening to his GM and not insisting he spend money he doesn't want to to make a splash.

In a town with a sports media quick to light torches and pick up pitchforks to storm Valley Ranch in search of Jerry Jones' head it takes a remarkably short memory to turn around and criticize Tom Gaglardi for deferring to his general manager. The audacity Gaglardi must have to trust the man he entrusted with the stewardship of the on ice product of his 200+ million dollar investment! Good grief. There are any number of criticisms that could be leveled at any franchise. There is no need to make something up.

"Maybe this world is another planet's Hell." -- Aldous Huxley

Tim Cowlishaw got in on the action too, but not nearly to the same extent since, I think, the post is in reply to two questions from Twitter. Directions for posting FanShots can be found here in case you also want to post Q&A's from Twitter.

Comment From CubanFACrisis ... Did the Stars ever even have the opportunity to lure Parise and/or Suter? Does their addition to the Wild make Minnesota the team to beat for the next 13 years?

Cowlishaw: Haha, no Minnesota's not yet the team to beat. But at least the Wild is on the map. Great move by them. And Parise's agent told the Stars right away there was no interest in Dallas. That's what hurts. This used to be a destination that free agents loved. Now it's not even relevant. Joe has to change that, and the only way is playoff wins.

This excerpt isn't nearly as inflammatory as anything Engel wrote, but it does miss the point entirely. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signed matching contracts with one of the worst teams in the NHL from 2012. Jason Garrison signed a contract with a modest cap hit with the Canucks. The motivations for all three deals were to go home. Garrison is from Western Canada. Parise and Suter are from Minnesota and Wisconsin respectively.

Parise and Suter both signed deals that guarantee them gobs of money up front too. Each player will get 25 million dollar signing bonuses spread over the first three years of their deals. That's a giant hit to swallow, and it would be hard to blame anyone for not wanting to pony that cash up, particularly with the pending CBA negotiations.

"Years ago, it meant something to be crazy. Now everyone's crazy." -- Charles Manson

I don't know Mac Engel, and I hope this doesn't come across as a personal attack on the man. It isn't. It is a criticism of the "work" he did in this instance though. The post screams of the same lack of accountability major news outlets generally fling in the face of blogs. I don't want this post to ultimately be about the worn out struggle of blog vs newspaper, but the idea is at least worth mentioning.

Few that will come across that post will deconstruct it in any meaningful way to form their own opinions about the content of the post so there is very little risk for Engel in posting it on his blog. The post doesn't advance the conversation in any way, contribute new or meaningful ideas, or present any new information. It's just...there, under the banner of a major media outlet.

And that is the ultimate problem. In the early aughts the Rangers were branded as a team no one cared about by the media as Lonestarball rose from the ESPN Message Boards and The Newberg Report (and forums) developed. Fans wanted better coverage so they began taking the reigns of the coverage.

The Stars get the same branding, but a quick glance at the viewership of our site suggests that isn't necessarily the case. We don't have LSB traffic, but over the past week this has been one of, if not the, most active hockey blogs on the SBN network. Visitors come here (and to both Mark Stepneski and Mike Heika) for insightful and honest commentary that has an obvious level of work devoted to each post, and not 300 word posts offering generic blanket generalizations.

The post is an example of why I don't get my news from newspapers anymore for the most part. Consumers have the right to expect a better product if they're going to be expected to compensate the author in any meaningful way. That post isn't worthy of compensation, and a major media outlet should expect better of themselves.

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