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Archive for the ‘Mike Modano’ Category

As we approach the end of the 2009-10 season, the Stars should be filled with much more regret than optimism.

3 years ago, I said the Stars would win the Cup in the 2009-10 season. What could be sweeter than winning the league championship in the last year of Mike Modano’s, Jere Lehtinen’s, and Marty Turco’s contracts? How nice would it have been for players like Modano and Lehtinen to go out with a bang and win the Cup in their last year?

That can’t be what happens this season because the Stars were eliminated from the playoffs when Colorado won their game Sunday night. In a way, I was relieved that the Stars were finally mathematically eliminated because I was tired of holding out that .02% chance that they would make the playoffs (by the way, thanks stat dudes for keeping the hope alive!), but I was still disappointed that my favorite team failed to make the postseason for the second year in a row.

The problem with the end of this season is that this is the end of an era in Dallas. At the end of 2008-09, it was disappointing that the Stars didn’t make the playoffs, but there were excuses due to injury, poor management, a coach who couldn’t control the team. Changes needed to be made.

But changes were made and that didn’t help. A new coach, a new manager, a few new players… still the same result. The Stars didn’t get what they needed in the offseason for budget reasons. Even now, the Stars are spending money signing Ott and Petersen to deals. Don’t get me wrong, I like Petersen as a person and wish him the best, but honestly, he’s not going to be an integral part of a future Cup-winning team. He’s a role player who’s good in the locker room, and I’m sure the Stars could call up a similar player from Cedar Park and pay him less money. Otter is a fan favorite, and the team would be different without him, but I don’t see the justification in paying $3 million a season for a guy who scores about 20 goals and takes a whole lot of penalties.

We’re still not in the playoffs, but feelings will be different when the Stars skate off the ice Saturday night against Minnesota. There aren’t the same injury excuses. Yes, this team isn’t good enough to win it all, but they’re not bad enough to go the whole season without stringing together a 3-game winning streak. Edmonton managed to have a 5-game winning streak and Toronto had two 3-game winning streaks. These teams barely made it to double digits in wins, but they can manage to be consistent enough to win a few games in a row.

The Stars have lost so many players from the 2008 playoff run, and there hasn’t been anyone to take their places. We lost Zubov, Norstrom, and Boucher. Niskanen, Grossman, Daley, and Fistric haven’t been able to fill those holes. Fistric has shown promise this season now that Tippett is no longer there to send him down to the AHL. Grossman has shown some signs of development, but he’s not as far along as I’d hoped, and he’s nowhere near the caliber of Norstrom in front of the net in the WCF against Detroit in a 6 on 4. Niskanen has been a developmental failure, and maybe it’s time to give up on him in a trade. Daley needs to go away. The announcers have said that he’s been “developing” for the last 6 years, and I haven’t seen any signs of progress. He’s as good as he’s ever going to be, and it’s nowhere near good enough to be worth something to the team in the long run.

These were your defensive pairs in the 1999 playoffs:
Hatcher – Matvichuk (both in their prime)
Zubov – Sydor (in their glory days)
Ludwig – Chambers (two stalwarts that were maybe the best “third” pair of defensemen ever)

I don’t see any of the Stars current defensemen breaking into this lineup, with the exception of Robidas. His heart allows him to play way beyond his capabilities, and he’d make a wonderful third pair defenseman who saw some time on the power play but wasn’t forced to play 25:00+ a game. If you’ve seen the Stars play, you know how hard he plays the game and you know he’s too small to play that way effectively 82 games a year.

That’s just the defensemen. The forwards we lost, including Hagman, Halpern, and Barnes, created holes. While the Stars haven’t replaced them with similar players, the play of young James Neal and Jamie Benn shows that the Stars have hope on the offensive end of things.

Overall, the Stars aren’t even as good as they were in 2008, and that wasn’t even one of their best years talent-wise.

And they are about to lose a lot more. Pieces that can’t be replaced, especially since the Stars have been unable to replace pieces lost in 2008.

One of the pieces will probably move on to another team:

Marty Turco: He hasn’t played well since the 2008 playoffs, but he’s been an integral part of the team. The first time I remember hearing him mentioned was when I saw footage of some crazy young goalie flopping around in the crease during practice in the 1999 playoffs to emulate Hasek and his odd style of playing the game. I can’t do justice to Marty leaving; maybe Sarah will conquer that task some day when she’s ready.

He never won a Cup for the team, and until 2007 and 2008 he was questionable at best in the playoffs. But that’s not to say he didn’t have a wonderful career in Dallas. While I can think of so many goals given up on first shots or from the faceoff dots, I can think of just as many ridiculous saves that never should have stayed out of the net. When I think of Marty, I think of his performance in the 2 playoff games I attended in 2008: Game 6 against San Jose and Game 4 against Detroit. He played out of his mind. He kept the Stars in the San Jose game long enough for Brenden to get the the series-winning goal at 1:24 am.

Off the ice, he is possibly the greatest human (term borrowed from Razor) to ever play for the Stars. His work with Stick with Reading/Writing, his visits to children’s hospitals, the M Club at every Stars home game… Marty has given so much back to countless individuals and families in the city of Dallas. There’s a reason why he’s nominated for so many humanitarian awards every year.

While we may get a new goalie or test the waters with Lehtonen as starter, Marty was a fan favorite and I know it will take everyone time to get used to seeing someone else in the pipes.

Jere Lehtinen: As Ralph so eloquently said in his article about Lehtinen, he played his whole career with very little recognition. Yes, he won 3 Selke trophies, but he deserved to win so many more. He is +177 in his career, and this season will be the only season he finishes with a – rating.

Since, like everyone else, I don’t know much about Lehtinen, I don’t have a lot to say about him. So here is my favorite Lehtinen memory: If you’ve gotten your picture taken with him at practice, you’ve probably noticed that he seems standoffish and rarely smiles for pictures. I’m sure he’s not mean or grouchy, that’s simply the way he is. He probably doesn’t understand why people care so much about him. In one of the pictures I have with him, he’s looking the other way, and it looks like I took an awkward picture with someone at a party who wasn’t even aware he was in the picture. But at this practice, in March of 2008, Sarah and I found a way to make him smile. We showed him both our “We ❤ our Finns” sign and the “Leht’s Go” sign. He autographed them, smiling, and said our signs were “pretty cool”. This is the picture we got with him directly after:

A smile; success!

I’ll always remember his ugly yellow skate laces and the way he always seemed to make lines better. He’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve become such a Finn fan and have a Finnish flag hanging on the wall in my bedroom. He scored the crazy 1st goal of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999. I still don’t know how that puck managed to go into the net.

He’s been talked about more in the past couple seasons due to his injury problems, and I miss the days when he plugged along without gaining any media coverage.

Mike Modano: I don’t think I have words for this one. If this is his final season, there will be hundreds of articles written about his career and how important he was to the Dallas Stars and American hockey. I can’t write something to rival what they will write, so I’ll leave that to them. We all know he holds every valuable stat possible for the Dallas Stars, and that he’s the greatest American-born player in history.

Mikey was the first player I noticed at my first game in March of 1997. I was 8 years old the first time I saw him play. I remember grabbing the program from my mom to check the rosters to see who this #9 was in white who zoomed up and down the ice. He was the only one whose jersey actually flapped as he skated. Even though players now may be faster than he is, you don’t see that with anyone else.

As soon as I figured out who he was, my goal was to get a Mike Modano jersey. And on opening night of the 1998-99 season, I got my white authentic Modano jersey. It is still my favorite jersey – I’ve added a Cup Finals patch and it’s signed only by Mikey and Bob Gainey. The logo on the front is still wider than I am, I can’t imagine how it looked on me when I was 10. The first pictures I have with Mikey are from the days before digital cameras. I’ll have to find the originals so I can scan them into my computer.

I can’t imagine a Stars team without Mike Modano. He’s taken a reduced role in the last several years, and I’m sure there are many Stars fans/bloggers who appreciate what Mikey means to the team but really have no idea. They didn’t see him get an assist on the last 8 goals in the 1999 Finals. With a broken wrist. Maybe they saw Mikey break the American-born scoring records, but they didn’t see all of his goals from Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen, and Brett Hull in the 90s.

I wish I could have seen him before Hitchcock came to Dallas and changed his game. Mikey was a much better player after learning some defensive responsibility, but I still wish I could have seen him skate through 4 or 5 guys by himself to get the puck in the net.

I have this great picture of Mikey and Brett Hull at the Cup parade in downtown Dallas. He and Hull are both leaning on a metal pole sticking out of their float. Neither of them could hold themselves up through the whole parade after the injuries they sustained in the playoffs. They both have huge smiles on their faces.

I just can’t write anything else about him until I hear for sure about his decision. Although, his actions and what he’s said in interviews make me think that this is the end for him.

The other two players won’t be so easily replaced. They are the only two members of the 1999 Cup Championship team. They are the only two team members who were playing in March 1997 when I went to my first Stars game. I know Modano’s number will be retired as soon as he hangs up his skates, and I hope Lehtinen will get the same treatment.

I’ll be making the drive up to Dallas from San Antonio Thursday for the final home game of the season. I don’t know how many Stars I’ll be seeing the last of, but I want to be sure to see them all before they leave. Feel free to come say hi and share some Stars memories with me. Or to give me a hug, because I’ll probably need it.

Amy

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Today marks the one year anniversary of the firing of Doug(ass) Armstrong.

I won’t lie – I was ecstatic on November 13, 2007 when I came into my room after class to see that Tom Hicks had fired Armstrong. I called EVERYONE I knew who had the smallest bit of knowledge about the Stars to rave about how happy I was that this idiot finally got kicked out of his position as GM. I was excited by the newness of the Hulljack tandem. After a year, I can’t say I’m happy with Hulljack either. But in my mind, having one of the NESN announcers as GM would be better than Armstrong.

I guess Armstrong was never going to get my love since the only other GM I knew for the Stars was Bob Gainey… and that’s a hard act to follow – it doesn’t matter who you are. Armstrong struck out permanently with my family when he traded Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner his first week in office. Langenbrunner I didn’t care too much about – I never saw what the big deal was about him. He always seemed to be just a step away from being great, but he could never get there.

The Devils didn’t even WANT Nieuwendyk. The purpose of the trade was Arnott for Langenbrunner because they really wanted Jamie. Doug(ass) threw Nieuwy in to sweeten the deal. I still remember where I was when I heard about the trade. It was spring break, and I was trying to take a nap in my room when I heard my mom cry out that the Stars had gotten rid of Nieuwy, her favorite player at the time. Needless to say, that nap didn’t end up taking place.

Then there was the Darryl Sydor debacle. Armstrong didn’t just let go of him once – he did it twice and even refused to tell Syd whether or not the Stars were interested in signing him again. You DON’T do that to a guy like Sydor, and you knew how he thought about it when he said he was disappointed in the organization. Me too, Syd.

This is what Armstrong was so willing to give up – a man who cared so much for the team that he CRAWLED to the front of the net with a broken ankle because he couldn’t get off the ice.

Perhaps even worse than that was when Armstrong was ready and willing to let Mike Modano go to Chicago. Luckily Tom Hicks stepped in, and I like to imagine he said something along the lines of, “Hey stupid, this is our franchise player. Don’t be dumb enough to just let him leave. Ok? Thanks.”

Big moves aside, Armstrong was famous for trading first round draft picks for old and washed-up players who wouldn’t stay with the team for long. Norstrom’s play in the 2008 postseason was enough to almost completely make up for the previous year of over-paid, almost worthlessness.. but I would have liked the first round pick.

I will give Armstrong a little credit – he did manage to steal Ribeiro from Montreal and gave Brenden a huge contract extension.

But I’m not sure Hulljack have done a better job as GM.

The Stars seem to have a protocol for new GMs – be sure to trade my mom’s favorite hockey player as soon as possible. Hulljack’s first move was to send Jeffy, Smitty, and Jokinen to Tampa for Brad Richards. Now, I don’t think Richards is as much of an idiot as I did when we got him (“I only want to play for winning teams” = I don’t want to help work to make a team better), but I still think we gave up way too much in the trade. This would have been Smitty’s last season on his contract, and I think they should have let the 2 goalies split time this season, and then pick a starter at the end of the season. Then work on sending the other guy to a team he wouldn’t be totally against going to.

I’m not saying Smitty would have gotten the job with us. It just would have been nice to actually let them play it out instead of deciding without giving Smitty a chance. Then the Stars would know for sure that they picked the right goalie for the long-term – something I don’t think they can say today.

And just throwing this out there – it’d be really nice to have a good checking line center who can take faceoffs and absorb almost all the short-handed time. We lost that by getting rid of Jeffy and with Stu’s retirement. Basically, we went from 2 great checking-line centers to zero. And Mike Modano is NOT a checking line center. I don’t care if he’s “old” or “not the face of the team anymore”. He could still score a hell of a lot more goals if they would give him the opportunity to.

Then there was my favorite (heh) decision to tell Hagman that the Stars were “going in a different direction” and weren’t interested in signing him. I guess a mid-twenties, 27-goal scorer didn’t fit into their plans. Instead, we needed to sign Sean Avery. I’m still waiting for someone to explain that one to me.

While I’m on this topic, can someone explain to me why we need 4 players who serve the exact same purpose at different levels of effectiveness? Otter, Barch, Avery, and Crombeen are all the same type of player. We don’t need 4 of them – one, or maybe two, would suffice. Ott is best at the job, so keep him.

They have done good things. Getting the long extension for Ribeiro was good, and picking up Brunnstrom has the potential to be great. Sadly they promised him all NHL time when he could really benefit more from playing a lot of minutes in the AHL.

In my mind, Hulljack have built a team with way too many players serving the same purpose (and not that goal-scoring, game-winning purpose) and put all their faith in a goalie who may not have been the best decision for the job.

If I knew last year at this time that Jeffy, Haggy, Smitty, Mittens, and Jussi would be gone and replaced with Brad Richards and Sean Avery… well I probably wouldn’t have been so excited on the phone with everyone.

Amy

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Some more news: Tippett has announced that Stephan will start in goal tonight and Chris Conner has been recalled from the AHL since they placed Lundy on reserve. Yay Booger!

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tonight the Stars take on the Blackhawks in a rematch from last Halloween. Last year, Smitty was in net for the Stars and we lost 5-4. The first few games we played against Chicago were weird.. I remember referring to them as the twilight zone games. Of course, the BEST moment from the Halloween game last year was Brenden Morrow hammering Seabrook right in front of the net. I hope to see a replay of that tonight 🙂

The Dallas Morning News says that Brenden lost a tooth Wednesday night (!) but he will be playing tonight. I don’t want Brenden to be toothless! Hopefully he will get that fixed up soon…

I hope we see Stephan in goal tonight. He should be rewarded for his good play Wednesday, and then Marty could start tomorrow night against Boston. I’d be really surprised to see the game goalie play both those games with the amount of travel between games. Although, knowing Tippett, he’ll probably have one goalie play both games.

As usual, Zubie, Lehtinen, and Lundy will be out tonight. The Stars won’t get Zubie back tomorrow night due to weird/stupid NHL rules. Apparently he has to be on LTIR for 24 days, and he can’t play until the 25th day. That means he’ll most likely be back for next Friday’s game against Anaheim. Talk about bad scheduling… no one wants to wait a week between games.

My pick to score tonight is Mike Modano because it’s been a few games since he’s scored, and he always seems to play well against the Blackhawks.

Hope everyone has a great Halloween topped off with a Stars victory tonight!

Amy

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First off, I know this road trip will still be considered a success if we can get 2 points against the Islanders tonight. That doesn’t change how terrible that loss was last night to New Jersey and how it showed this team has so many problems it may not be able to overcome this year. I’ll start from the goalie and move out (imagine Optimus Prime saying that part)

Marty showed flashes of playing well last night as his defense and offsense collapsed around him and offered no help. That being sad, he is still playing poorly this season. He goes into these slumps every season, but he has never had to play himself out of one before. Tippett always gave the starts to Hedberg, Tugger, or Smitty for a week or so while Marty would work out his problems in practice. He’d come back in 3 or 4 games and everything would roll along smoothly in net again. That’s not happening this year. I think Tippett expects Marty to play out of his slump, and I’m not sure how well it’s working out for him.

Our defense corps has problems. Of our three amazing rookies from last year, one of them is starting with what looks to be a bad sophomore slump. Niskanen has been out on front of Marty for a LOT of the goals scored against us. Tippett seems to have something against Fistric since he’s barely been playing him in games or scratching him so Janik can play. Grossman has been playing well compared to the others, but definitely not at the level we need him to be at. I really don’t think Trevor Daley is very good, and he’s definitely not the second coming of Darryl Sydor like so many people promised. He’s out there with Niskanen for almost all the goals. Boucher has been relatively invisible so far this season, but I give him a bit of a break because he did miss most of last season and training camp so it has to be harder for him to come back. I have nothing but good to say of Robi. Except for taking a few suspect penalties, he’s been our best guy on defense.

Our offense has been producing enough goals to win most games, so the biggest problem with our offense is their inability to play defense. I noticed last night how far away most of the forwards were from the defensemen when the Devils were skating the puck into our zone. Most of them forget that they have to actually play defense when they are out on the ice. Our 3 rookies look like they’re having a lot of trouble getting back to play the puck, and a large part of that is that they’re new to the league and will need some time to get used to the system. Brad Richards has been such a disappointment to this team. His defensive skills are severely lacking, and in my dad’s words he thinks “defense is what separates his yard from the neighbor’s”. Sean Avery spends most of his time skating in circles and never really doing anything worthwhile. He doesn’t look anything like a player getting paid $4 million a year.

The only forwards I actually skating after the puck into the defensive end are Brenden, Modano, Petersen, and Ott (when he is playing). So that gives us 3-4 forwards who consistently skate for the puck to help support the defensemen. Match that with our young defense corps that’s not playing up to its ability and we have a LOT of problems.

This team follows Brenden Morrow, and everyone can see that Morrow is really frustrated on the ice. He takes penalties simply because he’s angry and uses his force to break someone’s stick, knock them over, etc. I know these are stupid penalties, but I can’t help look at him like a silly puppy that does something bad so I have problems being mad at him. He needs to play better though because most members of this team will pick up their play if he picks up his.

One thing that has gone relatively unnoticed in this season so far is the resurgence of Mike Modano. The only 2 wins the Stars have come from games he scored at least 1 goal in. He has been flying all over the ice, and it’s so nice to see after watching him the past several seasons.

So Stars, the Sign Girls are calling you out. Play better!

Amy

One last thing: Congrats to Ralph and Razor for winning 2 more Lone Stars Emmys for their amazing job of covering Game 6 of the San Jose series in May.

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The Stars play their second game of their 3 game roadtrip tonight against the New Jersey Devils. We’re coming off a great win against the Rangers Monday night. For the first time this season, I felt like the Stars were actually playing the game they hope to bring to the ice every night. Hopefully they can keep that going again tonight.

I’m sure Marty will get the start in goal tonight. After letting in the first shot Monday night (how many times does that happen?), he was really solid in net. Modano had a great game Monday – it is so nice to see him skating at jersey-flapping levels with Neal and Crombeen.

Heika says that Petersen is back with the team today, but that he will most likely not play. His wife gave birth to their second son, Elliot Jasper, yesterday. That is so MUCH better than Finley Vincent… Scratch Avery please?

Everyone is talking about Sean Avery’s return to the east coast, and I really don’t want this blog to turn into the Sean Avery Circus as almost every Stars site has turned into. If anything, he needs to come up with better insults than calling a goalie “Fatso” or Laraque a “donkey”. The 10 year olds at the camp I worked at came up with better insults than that.

My pick to score tonight is Loui Eriksson. That little Swede said that he really likes road games, so I’m hoping he’ll get a goal in this one.

Amy

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I have never been a fan of Trashville…especially not after what Tootoo did to Robi and how the fans reacted to Mikey setting the scoring record. Every game we play against them I cringe just a little bit more than usual when someone scores against us. Needless to say, there was lots of cringing.

I’d like to say tonight was a heck of a success, but I’m sourly disappointed in a few people, namely Trevor Daley, Marty Turco, and Sean Avery. Yes, Daley has scored 2 goals this season so far, but he has also been directly responsible for at least 2 goals in front of Marty: the one tonight off his foot and in game one off the same dang foot! Marty, Marty, Marty….what are we going to do with you? It seems to me that Marty’s been off in la-la land lately. I just don’t get it; he’s late on so many stops! I don’t think we should be worried yet, obviously, but it’s not comforting that Marty’s been playing like this and that 0.79 save percentage is not making me feel any better. And the GREAT Sean Avery. I don’t deny he’s been okay, but being okay is not why he’s here. He’s suppose to be our “missing link” and fill out this team well. I’d rather have Hagman scoring shorties for us than someone who can’t even do his agitator job as well as Otter.

Fabian Brunnstrom!! Boy wonder #2 scores numbers 1, 2, and 3 of his NHL career! All three goals were quite beautiful, don’t you think? I am very glad this kiddo chose Dallas; not only is he going to be a great addition to the team, but he’s also such a sweetheart to watch being interviewed! He’s certainly more intelligent sounding than poor little Loui! (So far anyway.) Robi of course was Robi and played his heart out tonight. If I’m not mistaken, I believe he is the current point leader for the team. Mike Modano, you, sir, look like you’re still in your 20’s! I was very happy to see how light and fast Mo’s play was tonight. Very, very nice!

My three stars:

3. Robi – Just another night at the office for the man with the squished nose!

2. Mikey Mo – My goodness! He’s found the hockey fountain of youth!

1. Fabian Brunnstrom! Need I explain this one?

 

Sarah

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I’ll start off by saying that we are officially playing Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs with our victory against Phoenix tonight.

The Stars played well tonight, especially in the first two periods. I thought Holmqvist played well in his first full game with the Stars. I’m not used to a goalie stopping the puck that much; it seemed like the Stars were always taking faceoffs in their own end.

Niskanen and Robi each had a goal tonight. It’s always great to see either of them score, but it was especially good tonight after the news about Zubie this afternoon. Brenden also scored, and Mike Modano had an empty net goal at the end.

I just don’t like the way our team plays in the third period. We are going to have to change that before the playoffs start, because we won’t be able to play a weak period every single game.

I like our chances against Anaheim in the playoffs. As long as the Stars don’t implode, as they’ve done recently and in past playoffs, they should have a chance. Otter has been great all season with pissing off the Ducks, and that almost always proves costly for them. They take a lot of penalties and it’d be great for our power play to be able to take advantage of that. I also like that there’s some rivalry between the two teams. It’s not the artificial rivalry the league tries to manufacture by making teams play everyone in their division 8 times a season (thankfully that’s changing next year), but it’s a rivalry from the playoffs in 2003. I really hope they can beat the Ducks this time. As for home ice advantage, the Stars will start on the road unless we win out and Anaheim gets no more than 1 point.

Everyone should go out and eat duck sometime in the next two weeks!

In other playoff news, the Caps are in the playoffs as of tonight. They beat our boys in Tampa tonight to get into the 8th spot. I’m hoping they’ll get in because Ovechkin definitely deserves to be in the playoffs, and you can see how hard he’s working on the ice to get his team there.

Last note: I really enjoyed not seeing Richards out there tonight.

Amy

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