Posts tagged ‘Tom Hicks’

September 9, 2009

No Pressure?

by Kristine

When people are discussing what went wrong with the Stars in 2008-2009, a lot of them will say that they crumbled under the pressure of a highly successful playoff run. A lot of people will say that the expectations put on them by the media at the start of the 08-09 season were just too much.

Thank goodness there’s none of that pesky pressure on the team as they gear up for the 2009-2010 season. Oh, wait…

Pretty much every part of this team and their game has pressure on it. First and foremost, they will be expected to hit the ice with their skates on fire. There has been plenty of criticism based on the slow start they got off to last season. We’re the first to admit that if they had started on a good note, their troubles with injuries wouldn’t have hit nearly as hard. This season, getting a strong start and winning some games immediately is imperative.

Then there’s the team itself; the individual players that compose it. There are plenty of players for whom 09-10 is a contract year, and several of them are Olympic hopefuls. We’ll be putting a post up later featuring a look at who’s who in training camp that goes into more detail on individual expectations, so I won’t delve too deep into it here. Suffice it to say, the outside pressure will be nothing compared to the pressure the players will be putting on themselves.

This is especially true for Captain Brenden Morrow, who will be making his triumphant return from last year’s season-ending torn ACL. He’s going to be focused and ready to motivate his troops. He did his best to lead the team last season, but his on-ice influence is more important than anyone realized. He needs to bring his A-game on the ice and his best leadership skills off it.

I imagine Tom Hicks is also feeling some pressure. He needs to prove that he made the right decision in bringing in Joe Nieuwendyk as the new GM, and Nieuwendyk needs to prove that he made the right decision in firing Dave Tippett in favor of Marc Crawford. The upper management change is the biggest shake-up of the off-season, and nobody is sure what to expect. If the Stars have a great 09-10 campaign, it will be easy to blame 08-09 on the management. If they don’t have such a great season, it could be back to the drawing board for Hicks.

Overall, it would be a mistake to think that there is no pressure on the Dallas Stars this season. It’s of a different kind, certainly. Prior to 08-09, all the expectations placed on the team were media-driven. Now, it’s an internal pressure. The Stars have as much to prove this year as they did last year – if not more. The difference is that this year, they have to prove it to themselves.

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.

December 2, 2008

Sean Avery Suspended

by Kristine

UPDATE: Apparently Sean Avery went and got himself indefinitely freaking suspended for his little stunt. Ugh. -20 off ice points for pulling a stupid publicity stunt that ended up hurting his team, all because he can’t keep his big mouth shut.

Also, TSN has video of Turco, Mo, and Richards reacting plus the actual comment from Avery. The videos, titled “No Surprise” and “A New Low” respectively, are in a column on the right side of the page.

The saga continues: Apparently Hicks approves of the league’s action.

“I completely support the league’s decision to suspend Sean Avery,” said Dallas Stars owner Thomas O. Hicks. “Had the league not have suspended him, the Dallas Stars would have. This organization will not tolerate such behavior, especially from a member of our hockey team. We hold our team to a higher standard and will continue to do so.”

Honestly, it’s about time somebody upstairs finally holds Avery responsible for his behavior. I’m relieved to hear that Hicks is not as easily swayed by Avery’s charms – a term I use lightly – as Hull seems to be.

On another note, it will be very, very interesting to see if there’s a shift in how the Stars play without Avery in their line-up during his suspension.

More reactions from the Stars Brass after the jump…

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