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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Don’t Call It “Defense” – Hitchcock Wants Possession

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Good offense makes the best defense as Hitch preaches puck possession. Plus, another Calder Trophy watch list for Honka, and a little more salt for that Olympic ice.

NHL: Preseason-St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ken Hitchcock knows what people think when they think of his coaching style, and he’d really prefer for that to stop.

He rejects the characterization of that style as “defensive,” says Mike Heika in his latest post for The Dallas Morning News. Hitch’s vision for the Dallas Stars is of a team that uses its best offense – in the form of possession – to create its best defense.

To that end, he’s designing a team that gets the puck, keeps the puck, and forces opponents to play in the offensive zone, he says:

To do that, Hitchcock is going to ask top players like Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza to dig in and battle more. He's going to ask his best players to beat the other team's best players.

But he's also going to lean heavily on his grinders to wear down the opposition. Players such as Antoine Roussel, Adam Cracknell, Curtis McKenzie and Radek Faksa are going to also have to be a handful for the opposition.

The Cracken knows that style well. He’s played for Hitch and played the “grit” role, and he knows what to expect:

"I've played with Hitch before, and I understand the details and what is expected of individuals," said [Cracknell], who was coached by Hitchcock in St. Louis. "It's something we want to be a lot better at this year. The best defense is a good offense, and we want guys who can move and use their bodies, because the less time we can spend in our zone the better."

There’s always more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]

The preseason is about 33.3 percent over, and Hitch is working on whittling down his roster – and deciding who will get playing time during those last four warm-up matches.

Yes, you’re reading that right: Jamie Oleksiak is making a good impression.

You’ve also been reading that other thing right: Roope Hintz looks NHL-ready, full stop.

Want to see that power play goal from Thursday night? Of course you do.

Nicholas Caamano is already back with the Flint Firebirds, and already doing what we may come to understand as His Thing:

Meanwhile, Julius Honka seems to be settling firmly into the preseason Calder Trophy conversation. Mike G. Morreale is the latest to list him among the top rookies to watch in 2017-18. [NHL]

Fellow defender Marc Methot got the job of interviewing players during training camp. Look for “hunter or gatherer?” to be the next thing, unless it’s not.

Around the league(s)

The Winnipeg Jets are sick of taking infractions their struggling penalty kill can’t cover – so they’ve hired a former ref to help them stay out of the sin bin. [The Hockey News]

Also at THN: The NHL is asking for second opinions on the injury status (and LTIR eligibility) of both Joffrey Lupul and Marian Hossa. Jared Clinton examines the potential consequences if the league decides the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks can’t get that cap relief. [THN]

Detroit Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan met Deputy Russ Stonehouse on what could have become the worst night of his young life. Instead, they forged a bond that has carried over to Stonehouse’s young son.

“Downtown” Ricky Brown looks at how everything from the desert heat to the temptations of the Strip may help, or hurt, the Vegas Golden Knights.

And did Washington Capitals mascot Slapshot the Eagle really dress up as Pennywise the Clown for last night’s game? The answer is yes. Yes, he did.

On a somewhat more uplifting note, the Tampa Bay Lightning shared a tribute video for Brian Boyle that brought down the house during last night’s 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators.

And speaking of the Bolts, they’re already warming up for the 2018 All-Star Weekend with this video – which is only a little late for Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Even as we lament the fact that we can’t even watch NHL preseason games online, the NWHL announces its schedule of Games of the Week available on Twitter Live.

The Winter Olympics are now just a dream for NHL players, but the salt is as real as it gets. Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Brad Marchand expressed their lingering disappointment through the universal language of snark after PyeongChang’s Thursday medals reveal. [BarDown]


For this week’s Defining Moment, the Stars flash back to the March night in 2014 when Mike Modano’s number 9 rose to the rafters in AAC. Enjoy.