Dallas Stars Daily Links: Jim Nill Building a Winning Culture in Dallas, Slowly
You can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs, which is only vaguely related to the process going on under Jim Nill in Dallas. Basically, just be patient and everything might become awesome. Also, the Penguins may not be the Penguins anymore, and Pavel Datsyuk definitely is still Pavel Dat
"What's the deal with the Dallas Stars? It's like, 'I'm going to score a hundred million goals, but oh wait, do we have to stop them, too?' And what about the playoffs? It's like, 'Oh, we'll make it with 91 points and almost beat the top seed, but next year we'll do even better and not even be close to the playoffs.' Ya know? Right?"
Jim Nill has answers to these...well, 'questions' is a generous term for whatever that opening involved, but you get it. There is a plan, and the Stars are a good two years down the road of said stratagem. We're all kind of miffed/peeved/irked over ending the season empty-handed (sans Jamie Benn's hands full of four pucks and two trophies), but Mike Heika reminds us all that there are small victories before the big victories, and the two are usually pretty interrelated.
Jordie Benn on Saturday might have been the happiest man at American Airlines Center. The undrafted free agent, who worked himself up from the Central Hockey League to earn a place on the Stars, was in the lineup the day his younger brother Jamie won the Art Ross Trophy as top scorer in the NHL.
It was the first time anyone in Stars’ history had captured the award, and it was the realization of so many games of road hockey that filled the youth of the Benn brothers. It was literally a dream come true for both Jamie and his older brother.
The fact that Jordie Benn was there was a testament to his work ethic and desire. The fact Peverley has earned immense respect from his peers throughout this process is a testament to his work ethic and desire. The fact Fiddler continues to grind through regular season games like they are playoff Game 7s is a testament to his work ethic and desire.
Jim Nill talks all of the time about "culture" and building a family, as well as an organization, and there was a lot of that feeling oozing out of the season’s end. Yes, this was a disappointing year, a frustrating year, a year of unmet expectations. Yes, there will be much introspection over the summer as the team ponders whether or not it should make significant changes or whether or not it should trust the process.
Yes, there will be some painful decisions.
But it will not be seen as a wasted year. As much as it’s tough to miss the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, Nill and Co. believe much was learned. They believe they have taken a huge step forward on defense by discovering some of the talents of John Klingberg and Patrik Nemeth and Jyrki Jokipakka. They believe the coaching staff has a better idea of how to both push and contain this talented group of forwards. They believe they will have a better goaltending plan to start next season.
They believe there was progress.
These things are fond memories. They aren't ultimately satisfying ones, sure, because there is only one goal, and nothing else matters. But keep in mind that even after a Stanley Cup, there is always nothing but the next Cup to pursue, albeit with one more banner flying overhead. So why get too bent out of shape over missing out along with 28 other teams when there are myriad victories and triumphs of our own to celebrate? That video of Jordie Benn cackling with joy after his little brother won the Art Ross? That's literally one of my favorite things I have ever seen. I think we will see many more favorite things next year, and if Jim Nill's plans pan out, their significance will only get larger as time goes by. Hopefully not too much time.
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My predictions for the playoffs are all holding up pretty well so far, assuming that the first games of each series are perfectly predictive of their eventual conclusions. I'm sure they are. I'm sure they are. I am the hockey master.
This is about two weeks old, but check out this rather amusing piece comparing Jamie Benn to David Backes. Unless you really think Benn didn't do enough to help his team to the playoffs, it's really no comparison, right? [ESPN]
Did you know Jack Campbell is actually a very strong puck-handling goalie? Good stuff from Sean Shapiro here. [Austin American-Statesman]
Corey Perry scored a goal that they tried not to count, but ultimately the stupid dumb truth won out. I went to sleep before this game ended, but probably the Ducks won because 2014-15 hates all of us. [NHL]
Never bet against Devan Dubnyk, as I like to say, recently. Also, Jake Allen didn't exactly validate Hitch's decision to start him, surrendering 3 goals en route to a 4-2 Minny victory on the road. Road teams are doing well so far this postseason. [NHL]
Here is a more in-depth look at Devan Dubnyk by beat reporter Mike Russo. Erin Bolen did point out to me that Dubnyk's folks' assertion that he "secretly" played through the mumps is, to put it lightly, very questionable. Like, illegal and almost physically inconceivable. Still a good piece. [Star Tribune]
Pavel Datsyuk scored two beautiful goals, and Petr Mrazek saved 44 of 46 shots to hang on to a 3-2 Red Wings lead (and win). Watch all the Red Wings goals, because they are things of beauty. Pavs, man. Pavs. [NHL]
What does Mrazek's supplanting of Jimmy Howard mean for the former Red Wings starting netminder? [THN]
The Rangers scored two early goals, and that was all they would need as the Penguins only mustered a single tally throughout the rest of the game. [NHL]
No supplemental discipline for P.K. Subban after his slash on Mark Stone that may or may not have broken Stone's wrist. Here is a pretty good roundup of every part of this situation. [Grantland]
Finally, this is one of the first books I ever bought for myself growing up. I had a Barnes & Noble gift card, and I was still getting over the 2000 loss in the Finals. So, this other story about the various thefts and misplacement of the Stanley Cup really hooked me. Give it a read, eh? [Greatest Hockey Legends]