Dallas Playoff Review and Beyond….
What a roller-coaster ride this season was. We started out weak, then turned the burners on to be one of the best teams in the NHL from January to early March. Injuries and suspensions hit and then everything went dead. Everyone expected a lot out of Dallas, only to be let down by a very poor post season in which they were knocked out in 5 games. Owners Tom Hicks has vowed major changes.The Stars were a team with no identity. Consistency wasn’t present a lot of times, and so called “superstars” failed to produce. When you have a $68 million payroll, you are expected to succeed, not fail miserably. Injuries did play a big part in the late season collapse of the Stars, as 7 regulars were out of the lineup at one point in the late season. The suspension to Marty Turco didn’t help either. They had a chance for home-ice advantage in the first round, but failed to capitalize on it.
Oh well, maybe we will do better in the playoffs, as a lot of sports writers predict we have the advantage over the Avs. Wrong! The Stars were pretty much mauled by the Avalanche. They were out-played, out-muscled, and were just darn right awful at times. Marty Turco had a terrible series in which his GAA was over 3.00 and his save percentage was well below .800. The leading scorer for Dallas was Chris Therien! He had more goals than Bure, Guerin, Barnes, Numminen, Morrow, and Lehtinen combined! No other player had more than one goal. Mike Modano usually plays well against the Avs, but had only a goal and 2 assists for the series. He was often matched up against Forsberg to defend him, thus taking away his scoring chances. Corson was sent out against Forsberg, and did okay, but ultimately failed. Jason Arnott had a forgetful playoffs.. wait, was he even playing during the playoffs? I have no idea, because he sure didn’t do anything worth repeating. Stu Barnes was brought in last season as playoff veteran, but he was non-existent. The best player for the Stars was Pierre Turgeon, who they wanted to trade him and waived him last offseason. Barnes, Zubov, Modano, Matvichuk, Corson, and Lehtinen were a combined -28. Awful for defensive forwards and defensemen. Matvichuk only confirmed that he won’t be resigned for next season. Modano only added onto his awful season performance. Turco ruined his marvelous regular season. He probably won’t even be added to Canada’s World Cup roster for next season.
The Stars weren’t exactly the worst ever in this playoffs, but they did get beat badly. Dallas did have sustained pressure a lot against the Avs, but Abby put a stop to anything Dallas threw against him. some of the goals that went past Turco bounced in from skate blades and legs. Nothing Turco could do about those. Posts were hit and empty nets were missed for the stars. A lot of bad luck though. But clearly, the best team won, by farrrrrr.
The Dreaded Offseason:
Hicks blew up at the players yesterday in the year-end team meeting. Armstrong had harsh words for the players also. Hicks said that he won’t pay for a $68 million team anymore, and the days of spending big bucks for free agents is now over. He did place blame on him because he was the one for getting the players and coaches. All 11 unrestricted free agents for next year are expected to not be signed. The list is: Shayne Corson, Rob DiMaio, Jon Klemm, Richard Matvichuk,Teppo Numminen,David Oliver, Lubomir Sekeras, Don Sweeney, Chris Therien, Ron Tugnutt, and Scott Young. Jason Arnott will be a restricted free agent and most likely not be offered a contract because of his inconsistent play and subpar performances. Valeria Bure will also unlikely be offered a contract as well. Both players could command salaries over $3 million. Hicks says he doesn’t want a payroll over $50 million. The team has committed $44 million between 10 players for next season. The team now will be built around Brenden Morrow, Marty Turco, Steve Ott, Trevor Daley, Antti Miettinen, Mathias Tjarnqvist and possibly Junior Lessard and Loui Eriksson, and Martin Vagner. Possibly Dan Ellis or Mike Smith or Jason Bacashihua will be the back-up next season for Turco with Tugnutt being gone. The Stars will also try and trade a few high prices players if they are able to. Turgeon only has two years left at $12 million, so he might be bought out. Guerin is down to 3 years left at $27 million total.
Next season, if there is one, will see a whole new Stars team. It is sad, because I am used to seeing Dallas contend for the Stanley Cup, but now it looks like they are moving to cost-certainty and allowing their young players to develop. Which is good, because their development has been blocked due in part of the free agents always being brought in. We have a poor prospect system, so hopefully that will be upgraded as the emphasis turns towards them. Hopefully Modano will have his outstanding play return so he can mentor and help develop the young-ins that will round out the roster in the coming season or the next next season, whenever that will be.
Stay strong Dallas fans, maybe we will turn into the Sharks. It looks like we will be following their lead after what they did last season and this one.