Let's go back to November 28th, 2008. Two things happened that night. Actually, a lot of things happened that night, but let's just talk about the Stars for brevity's sake. First, on that night, the Stars lost to the Sharks by a score of 6-2. That is not a good memory, but that game was notable for a second, more dismal reason: After that game, Sergei Zubov decided he was kinda over being told to throw his hands up in the air each night, and thus he decided he would get a new hip and finish his career in the KHL. We would never again witness the chain-smoking-fueled wizardry of the best Dallas defenseman of all time, and the Stars would spend the next five years (and counting) bemoaning the state of their defense.
For years we were treated to many discussions of "What is a true Number One D-man," "Ivan Vishnevskiy will save us," "No, that's the wrong goal, Ivan," and "Dan Jancevski is a real person?" Disillusionment began to set in as Dallas fans watched Robidas work his way up the depth charts to the de facto #1 guy, and outright derision started to percolate when Alex Goligoski had the gall to be traded for what the internet tells me are a really expensive Washington defenseman and some Nashville winger named James, both of whom have done absolutely nothing for either of those teams, according to hockeydb.com. Seems like Dallas won that trade pretty handily, if you ask me.
Fast forward to the present: Jim Nill has taken over, the Stars made the playoffs again, and the Dallas fanbase can barely contain its excitement. Centers have started pouring in like candy from a broken gumball machine, Spezza waived his no-trade clause, and Detroit blogs are now foaming at the mouth upon realizing the obvious genius they lost in their former assistant GM. In the wake of all this action, we were on the edge of our seats to see what sorcery GMJN2 would work upon the Dallas blue line. There was tentative applause when Gonchar was signed last summer; but this offseason, of course, has been fraught with not-so-tentative cries to unload the aging Russian at almost any cost in order to make way for the future, which currently goes by the name of Klingberg.
So today, as we look at the six players who Defend Big D, if you will, one can't help but wonder: Why hasn't Nill worked his magic on the Stars' defense yet?
Mike Heika asked this same question in his excellent column this weekend:
But Nill said he has a plan, and it’s to trust the kids. His changes will come in the form of Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, John Klingberg, Jyrki Jokipakka and Cameron Gaunce. Nill is betting that at least two of those youngsters will take a step forward, and that the remaining defensemen will be as good or better than last season.
It's a great read, as usual, so check it out.
When you think about it, Nill's strategy does line up with what we've heard in the past. Namely, that it's extremely difficult to acquire a top defenseman through trade or free agency, so Dallas would have to find theirs through the draft. However, it's understandably tough for fans to be optimistic about the future of the defense core, even with a prospect as exciting as Klingberg waiting in the wings--and he's also coming off hip surgery. We can't help but compare any excitement about a top defense prospect to the hype surrounding Ivan "Zubov Jr." Vishnevskiy or the Zdeno Chara starter kit that was supposed to be (or maybe still could be) Jamie Oleksiak. And now that Nill names Daley and Goligoski as the plan for Dallas' top pair, the more cynical fan might be tempted to say that it's just more of the same. But then again, given what those two were able to do down the stretch last year, that could end up being a pretty successful strategy. "Could," of course, is the optimal word in that sentence, just as it has been for Dallas ever since November 28th, 2008.
Hey, at least we're not the ones paying Chris Pronger to do nothing.
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Now for your hot & spicy Monday links!
The NY Post says the Great One is going to bring hockey to Seattle, but hold your horses, because other sources are conflicting with this report. Surely the venerable Post wouldn't have reported a mere rumor...?
Ottawa has already replaced Jason Spezza with one of the names previously bandied about for the Stars' former opening at center, thus proving that the universe will always achieve its balance. (Except in Detroit, who may never sign another free agent again.)
Alex/Alexei Kovalev has decided to call it quits. Bon voyage, moonwalk king. (Or "moon dance," if you're this announcer.)
If you missed this article by Rocco Pendola about the Stars' "Awesome Rebirth" (not to be confused with an oaky afterbirth) then give it a read. If you want to temper your enthusiasm after you read it, then also peruse Pendola's piece calling Buffalo a possible playoff team. Yes, that Buffalo.
And if you think there was a bit of a stir around these parts about Gaunce and Roussel filing for arbitration, imagine the sheer terror that must be taking hold in Montreal now that P.K. Subban has requested a ruling from the mighty arbiter of NHL salaries. #futuredallasstarP.K.Subban, anyone? Jokes!
Puck Daddy says that Ken Hitchcock says that despite signing Paul Stastny, they will actually dress 19 other players during the season as well. (Of course, that's exactly what Ken Hitchcock would say if he weren't planning to dress 19 other players, so make of that what you will.)
Remember how Dallas was on course for a massive color scheme change before Mike Modano stepped in and saved the day? Well, Icethetics has a July 4th-themed look that may offer a glimpse of that alternate reality. Personally, I'll take Victory Green.
And finally, to get your Monday started off right, I present you with the below clip. This had to be part of Roy's case for his recent Jack Adams award, right?