Archive for June, 2009

June 30, 2009

Jere Lehtinen Stays A Star

by Chelsea

The Dallas Stars signed Jere Lehtinen to a one-year $1.5 million contract (with a possible $1 million more in incentives) today. This is a major paycut for Lehtinen, who made $4.1 million last season.

His willingness to take a hometown discount is great news for the Stars, and will hopefully serve as an example to other players looking to sign with Dallas.

The official release is here.

June 27, 2009

Rounds 2-7

by Chelsea

The 2009 NHL Entry Draft concludes today, with the Stars selecting four more forwards in rounds 2-6.

Round 2, 38th overall: Alex Chiasson

Chiasson is similar to first round pick Scott Glennie in that he’s a right shot right wing with good size that needs to build up strength. He’s a competitive player, a hard worker, and a big guy that can move the defense out of his way.

Round 3, 69th overall: Reilly Smith

Smith appears to be the other side of the equation. He has speed and tenacity that Chiasson lacks, but is not good in high traffic areas. Another right wing Canadian drafted before his projection, but with enough potential to validate the choice.

Round 4, n/a

Round 5, 129th overall: Tomas Vincour

Another right shot right wing, who like the other three Stars picks is over 6’1” and shows plenty of offensive potential. Unlike the other choices, there is have been questions about Vincour’s consistency and willingness to play aggressively.

Round 6, 159th overall: Curtis McKenzie

This time the Stars chose a left shot left wing, likely more for his heart and determination rather than definite scoring ability. Given that Dallas has a plethora of left wingers, it will be interesting to see what the plan is with this pick.

Round 7, 189th overall:

The Stars traded this pick to San Jose in return for their 6th round pick in 2010.

June 26, 2009

Stars Pick Scott Glennie 8th Overall

by Chelsea

The Dallas Stars chose forward Scott Glennie as their first round pick tonight, despite Kulikov, Cowen, and Paajarvi all slipping down within reach.

Glennie is a versatile forward, who could possibly fill the Stars’ growing need for a right wing/right shot. This does bring a few questions to mind, though:

  • Was this a move to fill a need vs getting the best skill available?
  • What does this mean about how negotiations with Lehtinen are going?
  • Have we passed on drafting a defenseman first round because that need is going to be filled through free agency?
  • … Or is it because the Stars believe in Vishnevskiy (and possibly Larsen) as the future defense?

He seems to be a hard-working, defensively-aware but offensively-skilled forward who may have been overlooked due to questions about his points possibly being a result of playing with Brayden Schenn (picked #5 by the LA Kings in this draft).

June 14, 2009

Pictures: Reebok 2009 Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game

by Chelsea

Dallas Stars Mike Modano, Brenden Morrow, and Marty Turco participated with other (mostly sports) celebrities like Mark Cuban, Joey Fatone, and Warren Sapp to raise money benefiting the Mike Modano Foundation and the Heroes Foundation.

Modano was on the Black Sox, with Cuban, Sapp, and Jason Witten. Morrow and Turco were on the Red Sox with Fatone and Daryl “Moose” Johnston.

Black Sox won 11-8 with Cuban being named celebrity MVP.

Go here for more.

June 11, 2009

Why Crawford Is Not Sean Avery

by Chelsea

Stars fans, remember that feeling you got last summer? First the news leaked… Sean Avery, coming to Dallas? Then, it became official. There was hesitation. It just looked like a bad idea. It felt like a bad idea. Then the press conference. Is he really wearing that? Is this what we’re getting into? You tried to have faith in your GMs, to reserve judgement.

The firing of Tippett and immediate hiring of Crawford does feel a little bit like that. It’s hard to tell why, of all the available coaches, Nieuwendyk would pick him. There’s concern that this is just change for change’s sake.

My main concern, though, was this:

Players like to play in Dallas. When Morrison and Sutherby came over from Anaheim, they both commented on how nice it was to be able to play their game. You can see it on the ice, too, that players are given the freedom to play their own style within the system. Ott is the agitator, Morrow is the heart, Ribeiro is the Valedictorian of Awesome School. Richards is the surgeon, Lehtinen is the glue, Turco is the monster that won’t stay in his cave.

Tippett let the team play with passion, with emotion.

An hour ago, reading everything about how this is a terrible move and an absolute downgrade, it seemed the Stars were doomed to slaving away unhappily, doomed for permanent mediocrity now.

Maybe, but probably not.

For one thing, the Stars still have Brenden Morrow, whose personal passion for the game can override just about anything.

For another, the team has an incredible amount of pride. Too much to lay down and let bad coaching (should that be the case) turn them from perennial contenders to basement-dwellers.

Lastly, there is this quote from Crawford out of today’s press conference,

I believe that a team’s identity comes comes from the players and not from the coach. Players win championships and coaches set structure and try to motivate every now and then … I have some notions about the Stars, but the more I get to know them the more I can understand the strengths of the individual players and go about building upon that and make the adjustments needed.

Isn’t that something Tippett was lacking? He didn’t work the system to fit the talents of his players, he just let his players do their own thing within his system. Fun to watch? Usually. Effective? Well, no, actually. Not at all.

I look forward to seeing Tipp set up behind another team’s bench. That said, Dallas has a team with a lot to prove, led by a ridiculously motivated captain. Now they have a coaching staff and GM that want to show the hockey world they were worth taking a chance on.

Expect the Stars to come out blazing in 2009-2010.

June 10, 2009

Nieuwendyk and the Big Picture

by Chelsea

During his press conference, Nieuwendyk stated that he would prefer to draft his team into contention rather than try and hit it big with free agency. He made a point of saying that the Stars are Morrow’s team, and that he would like to see them all play with his kind of passion. He’s said he likes the way Detroit plays a puck-possession game with hard-working forwards and effective but simple defense. He wants his team to play hard but also with intelligence.

All things considered, Nieuwendyk came into this with a good idea of what he wanted, and how he was going to get there. He doesn’t seem to intend to just tinker with this slightly identity-confused team until it looks like a contender. This isn’t about finding pieces to fit in the puzzle anymore. This is about replacing the puzzle entirely.

With the backstops to the Stars’ stellar defense on the way out (Zubov, Lehtinen, and possibly five-star goaltending) and new offense rising to the top (Eriksson, Ribeiro, Richards, Morrow, and possibly Neal/Brunnstrom), it seems Nieuwendyk might be recognizing that it’s time to change up how the team plays. Last year, head coach Dave Tippett failed to utilize their offensive strengths for most of the season, putting pressure on the defense and goaltenders to step up their game and carry the injury-riddled team.

Now Dave Tippett has been fired.

Supporters of Tippett can point to many reasons to keep him around. There’s the classic “but the injuries!” cry, the “winningest coach!” argument, and the “but the 07-08 season ended so strongly!”

However, you might recall that before there were injuries, the team struggled right out of training camp. They had a losing preseason record, hit the regular season flopping around pitifully instead of riding their momentum from the playoff run, and the top lines weren’t clicking. Avery became the Avery Issue, leading people to wonder if Tippett was too much of a players-coach to keep him in line. Then there was the mismanagement of the goalie situation, and some questionable instances towards the end of the season when he played Neal and benched Brunnstrom (one time that comes to mind is this happening immediately after a game in which Brunnstrom had played well and Neal had a sloppy turnover leading directly to a goal against).

The pros and cons of Dave Tippett from the 08-09 season seem to cancel each other out. He wasn’t great, he had his “wtf” moments, but he also nearly got them into the playoffs despite all the injuries and drama.

That’s why I think this has more to do with Nieuwendyk and Hicks looking at the big picture, looking to a new direction, and realizing Tippett does not belong. He has showed an inability to adapt as the team changes, and there seem to be big changes ahead for Dallas.

June 10, 2009

Tippett Fired, Replaced By Crawford.

by Chelsea

It’s official. Dave Tippett is out, Marc Crawford is in. Lamb is also out as assistant coach, but we don’t know yet about Rick Wilson and Stu Barnes.

Crawford has coached for the Nordiques, Canucks, and LA Kings, with little postseason success (has not seen the playoffs since before the lockout) despite some very strong regular seasons. He also coached the 1998 Canadian Olympic team, leading them to a disappointing fourth-place finish.

June 8, 2009

Dallas – No Draft Interviews

by Chelsea

I was reading this article, written by 2009 draft prospect Chris Kreider from the Scouting Combine in Toronto. It’s a very interesting read on its own, but one sentence stood out as especially interesting:

The only two teams I’m not meeting with are Ottawa and Dallas – and Dallas isn’t meeting with anyone.

This was posted on May 27, 2009. Joe Nieuwendyk was announced as the new Stars GM on May 31. Obviously, upper management was going through some big changes at the time. However, that hardly seems to be a good reason to (apparently) completely ignore an important part of the drafting process.
So my big question: Why would the Stars pass on interviewing draft candidates entirely, especially when they have the highest draft pick (8th overall) since 1996?