Heatherington stays in for Saturday’s game. Honka will be out. Honka left practice after a collision at boards. Hitch said Honka is fine. Lehtonen in goal vs Sabres.— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) January 19, 2018
The internet proceeded to explode (okay: maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get my point), namely because Stars rookie Julius Honka is going to be in the press box for a second straight game in favor of fellow rookie Dillon Heatherington.
Sean Shapiro wrote an excellent piece on the whole #FreeHonka situation and how head coach Ken Hitchcock views the young defenseman. It seems that Hitch feels that younger defensemen take a bit longer to develop due to their size, and that the game can be mentally taxing at times for them:
“There is no point in putting a guy (in the lineup) and keeping a guy mentally if he’s taxed too far. So you have to learn when he’s at the end and he has to catch his breath. It’s not coming out and watching, it’s catching your breath and re-starting again,” Hitchcock said. “He’s a small young guy, so when he looks like he’s at the end of the rope, we pull him back and then push him back in again. But you can’t ask a guy to extend himself when physically he’s not ready.”
But before any of you Honka supporters grab your pitchforks and point them at Hitchcock, keep in mind that this sort of thing isn’t exactly new for the young Finn:
But developments within the past 12 months have seemingly hampered that in-game confidence for Honka. It started before Hitchcock even arrived in Dallas. When the Stars were effectively sellers at the 2017 trade deadline, they didn’t turn to Honka like they should have.
The Stars were sellers, they were going to miss the playoffs, and while it would have been awkward with a lame-duck coach, there should have been a mandate to play Honka in the final 25 games of the season — let the kid go and build that confidence on the fly. Make mistakes, learn from them, and be a more refined product for Hitchcock’s arrival.
You can read more from Sean over at The Upset here.
And if you want a separate perspective, check out Mike’s piece: [SportsDay DFW]
As mentioned, the Stars are playing the Sabres today. Here’s the official game preview: [NHL]
Do you think John Klingberg should be a top Norris candidate? Regardless of the answer you should give this a read:
(I was really looking forward to leading with that piece originally. Oh well.)
Here’s more Klingberg for you, plus a pretty funny Star Wars related Q&A:
In case you missed it in Robert’s piece yesterday, Mike Heika takes a peak into the mind of Ken Hitchcock. [SportsDay DFW]
In Texas Stars news, Landon Bow recorded his first career shutout last night in a 4-0 win over the Manitoba Moose. [100 Degree Hockey]
No Central teams played last night (there were only 3 games), but in case you forgot how good the division is:
The Central Division is kinda good pic.twitter.com/quVt5nh4t6— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 19, 2018
Matt Larkin also wrote a mailbag that features Klingberg, plus discusses the trade worth of Max Pacioretty and more. [The Hockey News]
Speaking of trades, here’s a roundup of some of the latest rumors, including Erik Karlsson and pretty much every other Ottawa Senator. [Sportsnet]
Looking more at goalies? Don’t worry: Jared Clinton has you covered:
Greg Wyshnyski gives his take on the Kid Rock at the All Star game situation plus more in his Weekly Reader. [ESPN]
DownGoesBrown also tackles the controversy, plus makes the case for Willie O’Ree as a Hall of Famer. [Vice Sports]
Just go ahead and pencil the Nashville Predators in for at least another Western Conference Finals appearance:
Ryan Ellis hasn’t missed a beat for Predators https://t.co/Q2zybsqRBU— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 19, 2018
We’re years away from seeing a NHL team in Seattle, but Clark Rasmussen has already uncovered 13 potential team names. [Detroit Hockey]
And of course if you get a list of potential names, the only logical response is to rank them. [Sportsnet]
You might think the season couldn’t get any worse for the Edmonton Oilers. You would be wrong.
The hockey world took a rough hit yesterday, as sports journalist Red Fisher passed away: