Mike Heika joins us at 11 a.m. Thursday, but ask your questions now and he will have them when he arrives. Thanks for your readership!
by SportsDayDFW 2/13/2013 11:57:08 PM
Hey guys, greetings from beautiful, overcast Vancouver. Stars with their last game in Canada in this compressed season on Friday as they take on the Canucks. So how do we fix this thing going forward? Or is it more fixed than we know? How full is your Stars' glass today. Let's get started.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 4:58:46 PM
I personally wonder if Jagr would sign at this point, and I also wonder if the Stars would commit to that. He has been great so far, and his influence in the room is worth the $4.55 million contract alone. He is detailed, engaged, experienced, smart...really just a joy to be around. But I think he also wants to be on a team that can win in the playoffs, and I'm not sure this is that team yet. This is a transition season for the Stars, and GM Joe and the powers that be would like the playoffs to be a part of the process in transitioning forward. While guys like Brenden Dillon and Cody Eakin need that experience to be better in the future, guys like Jamie Benn and Kari Lehtonen need it too. You don't want to pronounce your team ``ready to go'' and then lose in the first round of the playoffs because you have no experience. So they will keep alive the post-season dream and take things day-by-day, and they will make their contract decisions at a later time.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:03:19 PM
I just don't think he will get to ``blow it up'' unless they are out of the playoffs in late March. His history says he will keep pushing. As I said above, he values the experience of the post-season for all of his players, and he values the positive feedback for the fans and the organization. He does not take a trip to the playoffs lightly. I think the team is learning every day, and you do see step forward and steps back. Honestly, I think the reshaping of the coaching staff and how they are handling this roller coaster is at the front of GM Joe's mind right now. He talks with them every day, and he is trying to use every tool in the organization's toolchest to get that part of the team to where it needs to be.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:06:04 PM
It's both. It's like the back-to-back problem. You think about it so much and worry about it so much that it becomes a mental issue. Then, once it's a mental issue, you are digging even deeper. It's ``quicksand'' to quote Keanu in ``The Replacements.'' It's very clear that the opposition is going to bring the heat with a heavy forecheck, and the defensemen are going to have to deal with it. You are torn on thinking whether it would be best for the forwards to extend gap and try to beat the forechcek with one long pass or whether they need to come back and help the defensemen, and move the puck forward with three short passes. Honestly, the good teams use both and know how and when to do it. They just ``feel'' it. The Stars struggle to find ``feel'' for the game in transition, and there is a lot of doubt in the minds of the defensmen right now, and so this is what you get. The coaches are going to have to find a way to help them deal with that doubt and become more consistent. You can see improvement at times, but it is a process...a very loooooonggg processs, if you're a fan who has been watching for a while.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:10:41 PM
I do, because it seems the issues could be resolved with one player and not three. If you get the one guy at the top, the other players seemingly would fall into place, and everything might be fine. The problem comes if you don't get that one player at the top, then how do you deal with the group? Well, the Stars already have changed out Grossmann, Souray, Fistric, Pardy, et al in the last season, so is more change going to fix things? We'll see. The guess is they run with these pairs, look for the ``savior,'' and keep trying to get better each day. If it doesn't work, they reassess in the summer and maybe go through a major change at that time.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:13:21 PM
They have submitted the prototype to the NHL and are awaiting approval. They are 99 percent sure they will have new uniforms next year. And the expected ``reveal'' at this time is probably near the NHL draft in the summer. One of the problems with the Stars' bosses is they are very excited about making changes and getting things moving, so we get announcements of 7 p.m. weekday starts from Lites or ``good news on Jamie Benn in a couple of hours'' from Tom Gaglardi. Then, the group starts discussing the issue and things change, and you get an ``oh, wait a minute'' from the organization. The Stars believe that the best way to unveil a new uniform is to do it once this season is over. It's best to keep that distraction away from the purpose of the 2012-13 season, and best to sell new jerseys when the team might actually be wearing them. That's where they are right now.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:17:53 PM
There's no way to tell, really. We were told that one was done, and then the NHLPA said it didn't like the process. So I'm not sure how the process works now. I know that not everyone was on board with the four conference format proposed by Gary Bettman, so we have to consider that when this starts up again. I believe that's the leader in the clubhouse when the Board of Governors meets, but I also know these things can take wacky turns.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:20:02 PM
I don't believe so. I think he just is being asked to do a very difficult job. He basically is treated as the best offensive player and best defensive player on each line he plays on, and that's a tough job.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:21:06 PM
He is what he is. He is a streaky goal-scorer who has found his way in and out of favor in Montreal and Boston. He has a tremendous shot, and he has holes in other parts of his game. This is a tough year for Stars fans, because they want to see the future now, but that's just not how it's drawn up. Reilly Smith has the opportunity to make a difference on the third line with Cody Eakin, and he has yet to do that, so I'm not sure he has really earned the opportunity to bump Ryder out of is spot yet. It's a tough part of the ``win now, prepare for the future'' dichotomy of this team.
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:24:38 PM
On paper, I think that's your move. I also think you could consider a trade of Morrow or Ryder, depending on when Whitney returns and what the team looks like in the standings. If Morrow really has upped his game, you could leave that line alone and go with a second line of Whitney-Roy-Eriksson. But that's just two guys throwing stuff against the wall at a bar (or on an internet chat).
by Mike Heika 2/14/2013 5:26:45 PM