I Guess No More A-Rod Contracts From Tom Hicks

Tom Hicks and the Dallas Stars have dug themselves a deep hole down in Texas. Hicks has never been shy about opening up the chequebook and signing star players. Just ask Alex Rodriguez who got $250 million to play shortstop for the Texas Rangers. Ask the likes of Pierre Turgeon, Bill Guerin and Phillipe Boucher who hit paydirt by coming to the Lone Star State.

But things sure changed during the lockout. Hicks was one of the bigger supporters of a cap, linkage and replacement players. His tune sure changed quickly. After their championship in 1999, things have started to go downhill for Dallas and the slide should continue next season. Gone are the days of spending to win. Gone maybe are the Stars top 4 on D with Hatcher, Sydor and Matvichuk already gone and perhaps Zubov on the outs as well. And most importantly gone may be their best player the last 15 years in Mike Modano. His unrestricted free agency status put him in limbo with the organization.

The reason for Modano’s uncertainty is because the Stars have committed roughly $22 million to 8 players (The Hockey News).

Forwards: Stu Barnes, Geurin, Turgeon, Jaroslav Svoboda, Jeri Lehtinen

Defence: Boucher, Jon Klemm

Goal: Marty Turco

Guerin is grossly overpaid, but not as overpaid as Turgeon. These two were awarded the most outrageous contracts in recent time. It is these two alone who have crippled Dallas and prevented them from resigning Captain Derian Hatcher and could cost them Modano. I guess the Stars should feel lucky they have one good forward in Lehtinen under contract, a good defenceman Boucher under contract and a good goalie in Turco signed.

But with so much money tied to so few players and franchise guys like Modano and Zubov still needing contracts, the Stars are in a deep hole.

And that is only the beginning as the Stars have many other key players who could be unrestricted as well including:

Forward: Jason Arnott, Rob Dimaio, Val Bure, Scott Young

Defence: Teppo Numminen, Don Sweeney, Chris Therien

Goal: Ron Tugnutt

The Stars will also need to bring back their restricted free agents who are the team’s young core.

Forward: Brendan Morrow, Niko Kapanen, Steve Ott

Defence: Trevor Daley

So what are the Stars going to do? Bringing back Modano is priority number 1. He is the face of the franchise and like Yzerman in Detroit, no one can see Modano play for another team. But the team has so many holes to fill and probably wont have alot of cap room to work with. The Stars have not had much success in recent years in the playoffs getting bouced by the Ducks and Avs plus missing the playoffs in another season.

In all likelihood the Stars will probably enter a semi-rebuilding mode and have roster spots filled with young players. Guys like Ott, Kapanen, Antti Miettinen, Junior Lessard, Morrow, Svoboda, and perhaps even overseas players Loui Eriksson and Jussi Jokinen if they are ready. Dallas would probably like to bring back Arnott but he may be lost thanks to Turgeon and Geurin eating up the payroll.

The Stars once boasted the best blueline in hockey with Hatcher, Zubov, Sydor and Matvichuk. Next season none of them will be wearing Stars jerseys. Instead guys like Shawn Belle, Daley, Matt Nickerson may be wearing Dallas Star uniforms. Though they are talented youngster on D, the Stars only have Boucher in terms of proven talent. They would love to bring back Zubov but he will be costly. They missed Hatcher’s physical play and Sydor made Dallas look really bad with his strong 2004 playoff performance.

At least in goal they are set for a while with the steady Turco. He is going to have to be better than ever if Dallas wishes to succeed because he wont have an all star blueline in front of him, and his team may be hard pressed to score.

Hicks and his spending ways are not only to blame for the lockout, but also for the demise of the Stars who will probably be no longer considered part of the big 3 in the West with Colorado and Detroit. His willingness to open the vaults have cost him tenfold. Gone are already some top players and even more key guys, especially Modano, could be out of Dallas too. Sure the Stars can buy out players and then open the floodgates again to make themselves a contender sooner than later. But Dallas would probably be best served to let their kids play, see if they pan out and build around youth than spending to win.

Prediction: Turgeon among others get bought out and Modano stays.


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