And with that we prep for the impending autopsy during which we should quickly cut away the decay and rot that was too much for the body of work to fend off, and instead focus on the parts that can be harvested for future implementation.
23 and getting better every year. All-Star. Accuracy winner at ASG. Should (needs) to take a more prominent role on Special Teams.
That should about do it for the "Most Underrated Player" patronizing
THE reason they remained in the hunt. His fault is one I can live with; for a second straight season he tried too hard in stretch games, wanting so badly to get this team into the playoffs he appeared over-eager and surrendered too many goals. The team had two runs and during them he was twice Player of the Week and was named the league's 2nd Star in October
His presence was like adding a 35-40 goal scorer out of thin air. Poof! Presto! Shazam! And, when he shot the puck, Ka-Pow!
Character, spirit and determination. He was one of the few players who was consistently good in the disastrous 2nd games of back to backs.
A full year behind an NHL bench behind him with all the lessons learned, the successes and the failures, will mean a much better coach in October 2012.
The pixieish Dane made major strides. He"ll never be confused with Derian Hatcher (or Sergei Zubov for that matter) but he seemed to learn a few hard knocks lessons - most importantly, if something isn't severed, get up.
Swift, physical and competitive, he came out of nowhere to earn a spot on the roster.
It faltered a little in the final weeks but it was better than average. Something to build on.
These aren't at all the only positives from the season (Nystrom, overtime success, Souray...etc.), just the first nine that popped into my head.
Want a little levity? Look at it this way; the Sabres solved their ownership issues last year, spent a wack of money on players in the summer, have the most senior coach in the league - and still missed the playoffs.
Tom Gaglardi took control of the franchise midstream this season. His first order of business was just that, business. He lowered ticket prices to get fans more easily exposed to the team and has hired extremely well atop the structure of the franchise off the ice. The results have been easy to see. Stars games at AAC have come out of their dormant state.
Next up would be making prudent improvements on the ice but with the cautionary quotation "Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt" written in bold print.
To that end, I read someone rip the Sabres brass for their moves. It went something like, "next time spend elite-level money on elite-level players". Ouch. (Have to applaud them for trying though)
So avoiding that trap and trusting that management here can do as well with an expanded wallet as they did this past summer on a shoe-string will surely see a jump to the next level in Big D.
Remember also, external expectations of this team were minimal at the outset of the season. Bankrupt, inexperienced, and hovering just above the salary cap floor doesn't instill a lot of belief.
Ultimately they fell just shy of an unlikely playoff birth. And in the end - despite two wonderful, belief-inducing runs - they were no better than a .500 team, just average.
Sure another non-playoff year stings. It stalls the rejuvenation of this proud club, and it robs us of beard growing season. (Fact: men's beards grow faster in the Spring)
Good times are on the horizon for the Dallas Stars - I believe that with every fibre of my being. But it's going to take patience and smarts and sweat, and yes, money.
There is a promising crop of prospects coming into the organization out of Junior and US college ranks. Their development is going to be crucial to the big club's success in the coming years.
Austin has to become a prime incubator.
Dallas has to again become; a prime landing spot for quality free agents, an uncomfortable place for opponents to play and blast for fans to ' be a part of'.
This franchise got ground to a pulp the past three years. It will likely take that long for it to re-establish itself as the jewel it once was. I know we all want it to get there yesterday but it never works that way.
Oh it's going to get there, trust me, and it's so going to be worth all of our emotional and financial investment.
"Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be sure the reality will deal with you." - Alex Haley
Sharks. Preds. Blues.
That's what's left. That's the challenge.
Last season when Marc Crawford's club went under the whip it was a five-game winning streak against non-playoff bound teams that was needed; @Ana, CBJ, home and home with COL, and then that finale @MIN.
They, as you probably know, fell a victory short.
This year it's a much different challenge, yet it's kinda the same.
Instead of facing opponents headed to a summer on the links, this season it's nothing but playoffs bound - or hopeful - clubs that the team has to conquer, and a season ending winning streak seems to be a necessity - all be it a shorter one. San Jose, @NSH and then versus Hitch's Blues is the trifecta they'll try to hit.
There are no crutches to lean on, not metaphorically nor literally. They either get it done or they're done.
True 'must win' hockey has arrived.
Saturday night was a franchise defining game for the San Jose Sharks and they played like it. Tuesday at AAC won't be as hyperbole-soaked but it will likely decide the Stars playoff aspirations.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Maybe the most overused, under adhered-to word in the hockey world is "accountability".
Every club talks about "holding each other accountable", but those words - like backchecking - are hard work. Humans don't really like hard work. Hockey people are human. Hard work is hard.
It's human nature to explore 'an easier way' to do things and in sports that translates into taking shortcuts which usually precedes something called 'losing'.
So just what is this accountability thing?
Accountability: Accountability is taking or being assigned responsibility for something that you have done or something you are supposed to do. (noun)
In hockey this would include things like: penalties, turning the puck over, shift length, and whining at officiating, along with other stuff.
Mike Babcock is an accountability coach. The Penguins seem like an accountability team. The Blues appear to have found this religion. And if you watched 24/7 Road To The Winter Classic you are very aware of the level of accountability the Rangers John Tortorella asks for and the manner in which he goes about getting it.
In other sports, Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys had it. So did Bill Walsh's 49ers, Lombardi's Packers and John Wooden's Bruins.
It really is a simple concept. Systems and expectations are not a sometimes thing, they are an every time thing.
Holding others to a standard requires confidence and drive, energy and brass. It's hard. But it's also rewarding.
Saying is not doing. Doing is doing.
The proof, you see, is in the pudding. And the pudding is a playoff spot.
One of the fascinating chemistry test/poker table aspects of the race in the Western Conference is juxtaposing what team's did or didn't do at this year's trade deadline with how they've done since. (Approx. 10 games)
Two teams, the Stars and the Blues, stood pat. (Texas Hold 'Em in a paddle-wheeler on the Mississippi) They are currently the Pacific and the Central/W. Conf. leaders respectively. Well played indeed.
The rest did 'something' and here it is:
The Canucks swapped with the Sabres and landed a coveted, rugged young power forward that has huge upside, Zack Kassian. They also acquired defensive center Sami Pahlsson to 'Keep it Swedish'. Prior to and since, the Canucks have played with their food as they are all but lead-pipe locked into the 2-hole.
Last 10: 4-4-2
The Preds were maybe the league's most active team. They added Hal Gill on defense, Paul Gaustad at center, then reunited the Flying Kostitsyn Brothers and any minute now a Russian named Radulov is going to stumble back into the fold like Bobby in the shower on 'Dallas'. Message: Going For It
Last 10: 6-3-1
They acquired defenseman Kyle Quincey. They also have someone named Nik Lidstrom on defense, just in case the Quincey deal doesn't work out. Nik has been out with a foot malady...look at their last 10 without him...apparently he's quite good.
Last 10: 3-6-1
The Hawks badly needed a center so they trolled the waters and came up with defenseman Jonny Oduya. What they really need is a healthy captain Jonathan Toews at center.
Last 10: 7-2-1 (tied with Dallas and St Louis as hottest teams in West)
I've always liked Antoine Vermette and the Yotes were able to salvage him from the rotting pile in Columbus. They were unbeaten in February prior to the trade but are middling at best since.
Last 10: 3-5-2
Jamie McGinn is turning out to be maybe the most impactful addition to any roster in the West. He's potted 7 goals in 10 games since the trade from San Jose and that's helped the Avs cling to the final spot despite being the youngest and most financially economical team in the league.
Last 10: 6-3-1
San Jose (9)
As always, the Sharks continue to tinker with their personnel in an effort to find that which they are looking for. They brought in a trio of players (Winnik, Moore, Galiardi) to hopefully shore-up the league's worst penalty killing and seem to slowly be lifting their nostrils out of the water after a lengthy struggle to tread water.
Last 10: 4-3-3
Los Angeles (10)
The Kings, tired of losing 1-0 and 2-1, 'pried' Jeff Carter from the willing hands of the Bluejackets in hopes of improving their ability to score one goal per period instead of per game. (Carter has scored 5 times in 11 games) It's helped.
Last 10: 7-3-0
Yes they swapped jersey-filler Rene Bourque for former Flame Mike Cammalleri (6 goals in 21gp) but it's two mainstays who were retained that have them still in the mix (Iginla and Kiprusoff)
Last 10: 6-2-2
Bottom line, some of the best trades a GM makes are the ones he doesn't. Unless of course we are talking the ones that were made and did work. Razor calls this, 'selective affirmation'. It is a glorious tool. As am I.
RAZOR’S INAUGURAL 16th ANNUAL 10 THINGS THAT NEED TO GO
They don’t invite me to the General Managers meetings because of one measly friggin technicality; I’m not a GM.
Ya I agree, what a joke. But if I was given a voice here’s what I would table for discussion and dismissal.
1.) Elimination of the Redline
Brett Hull was right. The worst, most anti-skill play in hockey, the one where a d-man slap-passes the puck to a forward just over center-ice and he angles his stick to tip the puck deep into the other end of the rink, is about 90% of what the decision to remove the redline has produced – and it suuuuuucccckkkkks.
2.) Trapezoidal Areas
It never worked. Whoever came up with it didn’t understand geometry, or modern goaltenders, or game flow.
3.) Kicking Motion
This needs to be rewritten to say, “…as long as the players skate never leaves the ice, good goal”
4.) Illegal Hand Pass
No one can explain to me why a hand pass should be allowed in the defensive zone only. Unless, the league secretly wants to aid defense and bridle offense, which I know isn’t the case
Hybrid Icing intrigues me. No, its not better for the environment and mileage but…whoa, hey, wait, or is it in a way?
Necessary for playoffs, unnecessary for the regular season. For the first 82 lets just play 60 minutes for two points and then, if tied, go straight to a 5-man Shootout. Save some wear and tear, and save our fans from more intermissions and confusing standings.
7.) Face-off Rules
Face em up, both players sticks down, drop puck. Simple! Right now it’s too much of a sideshow. The play should be the thing, not the pre-play.
8.) Permitted Icing During Penalty Kills
A team should be fully penalized for an infraction, not ‘partially’. You can’t ice it during even strength play so why permit it when you’ve done something delinquent?! Duh.
9.) Late Period In-Arena Goal/Penalty Announcements Made After the Intermission
This is more an annoyance than a rule, and its self explanatory – and its really dumb if you think about it for half a second.
10.) Morning Skates
Originally adopted to get players out of bed and perhaps curb late night extra-curricular activity the night before games, its unnecessary nowadays – it’s a much different time. Adapt. Abolish. It’s now merely a wooby blanket for coaches and some players, and a colossal time waste for everyone else. Not to mention an unnecessary added workload for the athletes.
Feb 21 @MTL: Mike Ribeiro returns to Montreal and sticks his magic Easton right up the fundament of the once mighty, now floundering, Habs franchise. Kari Lehtonen blanks them. And a guy named Garbutt scores in his 3rd NHL game and it's the winner...3-0W
Feb 23 @CHI: The Stars kill the only PP awarded to either team as the league continues to crackdown on any and all crackdowns. They also get a winning performance from backup Richard Bachman, and rally with three unanswered goals in the 3rd to beat a discombobulated Hawks club 3-1
Feb 24 vs MIN: They enter the game as the only team in league yet to win the 2nd game of a back-to-back set. Thankfully the opponent also played the night before and was named the Minnesota Wild. The Wild still haven't won in Dallas since W was in his first term (16 trips, 16 losses) In this episode the Stars chased starter Nik Backstrom and outclassed their northern cousins 4-1.
Feb 26 vs VAN: The West leading Canucks come to AAC for a matinee prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. Stars get three goals from their top line, the 3rd one a beauty in overtime, and down the Canucks 3-2 in a fabulously entertaining tilt in front of 18,010
Feb 29 vs PIT: This one gets listed as a "loss" but really it was a tie, and a titillating one at that. It was fast, nasty and well played right from opening puck-drop. James Neal and Matt Niskanen were making their first visit to Dallas since the trade a year prior. Eric Nystrom trended on Twitter after knocking Letang loopy - one of about 60 hits in the game that was played with vicious enthusiasm and decided in a Shootout. The 4-3 Shootout "loss" is in my top 3 for Game of the Year.
Mar 2 @EDM: First game of the first of two swings through Western Canada in the month of March, the Stars and Oilers played what both myself and TSN's Ray Ferraro dubbed "The Worst Hockey Game We've Done Or Witnessed In The Last Five Years". Not only was it dull, it left a void in our souls, made our eyes cramp, and robbed us of 2 1/2 precious hours of life that we will never get back. Final shots: EDM 20, DAL 15...Final score: Stars 3, Oilers 1, Hockey 0.
Mar 4 @CGY: A showdown between two teams jockeying for a playoff spot in the West, it featured a stellar dual in net between Lehtonen and Kiprusoff that alternated from sublime to larcenic (new word). It was a hard hitting, high scoring-chance game that had to be decided in a Shootout. Shot totals finished at 40-38 Stars, as both clubs strafed the two Finnish goaltenders. Special teams ultimately decided it; the Stars scored shorthanded, on the powerplay, and then went two for two in the Shootout to secure a 3-2 "win".
Mar 6 @VAN: The Stars entered play against NW Division and Western Conference leading Vancouver with a little pep in their step - and fabulous, tender, tomahawk ribeye in their bellies after all were treated to dinner at owner Tom Gaglardi's house and were able to idle there way up the standings while doing so, arriving back at his downtown hotel full, and in first place in the Pacific Division. Ta-friggin-da! That good news was followed up the next night with a show of appreciation as they survived a series of early mis-steps and mis-fires to ultimately spiflicate a semi-uninterested and suddenly struggling Canuck squad 5-2 in front of 20,000 belly-aching Canadians not named Gaglardi.
I have great admiration for what the men in stripes do on a day in and day out basis in the NHL. It’s the world’s fastest game played by a collection of whiners - or more delicately put, lobbyists - with Big Brother second guessing/exposing the officials every decision. They travel like Gypsies, a lot of the time making their way to the next assignment day of game, and when they arrive their workplace environment is both dangerous and hostile.
They are good men, these NHL referees and linesmen.
That said, I am at wits end from trying to understand what the standards are for penalties and why the pool of linesmen have taken it upon themselves to hold the game hostage every time a puck needs to be dropped to resume play.
I know that players have adjusted to the “new rules” (lord, it was 7 years ago that they were introduced) and I actually prefer to watch/broadcast games that are officiated by refs who “manage the game” and/or “let them play” a little when the games are on the line – that’s hockey. But at the same time, a lot of what we have come to expect to be a penalty doesn’t seem to be - at least not consistently.
Regarding the face-offs, it’s the constant haggling and dismissing and delaying on what are supposed to be “hurry-up face-offs” (instituted in 2002) that seems to have reached ludicrous stage and is trying patience. Its like a lot of linesmen have contracted some sort of God-complex. Just drop the puck. Oh sure, be a bit more stern with draws in the attacking zone, but please, please, in the neutral zone and especially on the logo at center-ice just drop the puck.
A few years back they would drop it even if a team’s center weren’t there yet. When was the last time you saw that? As well, it appears they’ve stopped even threatening to kick the replacement out of the face-off and assessing the 2 minute penalty that goes along with that mythical infraction.
In soccer the throw-ins are conducted with fluidity, as are handballs at mid-field. Just get the game going again seems to be their goal. It should be ours too. Wasn’t that the point?
In basketball, throw-ins are rather immediate and it’s the players, not the officials, who slow up the free throws. (All you ballers out there, stop with the touch-hands time waster after every attempt. Just stop it.)
My suggestion to hockey would be to have both players put their sticks down on the dot at the same time and leave them there in preparation for the puck drop. Currently the road team’s player has to put his down first. This rule does two unnecessary things: It allows the home player to have an advantage, which makes no sense to me. Why does he deserve an advantage? And, it fuels the jockeying and jawing that ultimately leads to all the delays.
This current state of on-ice arbiting seems fixable; Especially considering all the good, hard-working guys the NHL has on its officiating crews. They are prepared. They have impeccable integrity. And their bosses, I do believe, hold them accountable.
All that’s needed is a hard reassessment of how they are governing these games and the fifty some odd face-offs that each contest houses.
Lots of ideas and suggestion about how to fix the current NHL points system.
What the new system, if there were to be one, would have to guard against is being too confusing for the casual or even the common fan. Trying to figure out true records and who is over/under .500 shouldn't make fans as mentally overwhelmed as baby in a topless bar.
Or should it?
Should points be kept in a completely arbitrary and fantastical way?
3 pts for looking like your team 'wanted it more'. 2 pts for 'sticking together as a team'. 1pt for 'not having as much talent' as opponent but still tried real hard.
Well then why don't we just award the team that finishes with more goals 2 points and the other team no points at all, because in the game that was played they were losers. Crazy Razor, eh?
Here is where I often site my "parade analogy" when engrossed in one of these NHL point system debates: Not everyone can be in the parade, some have to sit on the curb and clap and stare at the floats and clowns as they go by.
I just read back what I've written so far. I sound like I've had six Caesars.
Anyway, I guess what I'd prefer to see - no matter the equation used to arrive at it - is a system that ensures that the team that finishes the game with more goals than the team they just 'defeated' does in fact gain 2 points on that team. I don't care, make it 4-2, 8-6, 34-28 if you want. (Oops, more clamato and vodka talk)
What I want, as did Tom Cruise in 'A Few Good Men' , is the truth. I can handle it, and it just might set us all free.
So here is the Razor-truth in the Western Conference standings, today, March 1st 2012:
I have taken the standings, omitted all Shootout wins and losses, and boiled it down to wins in regulation and overtime. I've listed the standings by 'games over .500' in order to give a true representation seeing as some teams have been to Shootouts way more than others. Here are my findings:
1 Stl +18 (current artificially enhanced number in NHL standings is +23)
2 Van +16 (cae number +24)
3 Det +15 (cae number +23)
4 Nsh +11 (cae number +17)
5 Phx +4 (cae number +12)
6 Dal +2 (Chi would win tie-break, have one more win) (cae number +7) Chi +2 (cae number +10)
8 SJ +1 (cae number +11)
9 LA -3 (cae number +6)
So you'll notice that the Stars have the most honest record in the top 9.
Biggest charlatan? The Sharks.
Bottom line, not much changes other than I guess it bares that there are four really good teams in the West, and five, six, maybe seven other clubs that teeter back and forth on the fulcrum of mediocrity.
At least I think that's what all the math I did says.
And so with that I'll leave you with this; stats and standings get thrown out once the puck drops come playoff time. You just have to get in.
Speaking of time, maybe it's time to celery salt another rim.
In a place called Omak, Washington they hold a Stampede and at that Stampede there is a crazy-arse event called the 'Suicide Race'. It's a full gallop charge down an embankment, across a shallow river, and to a finish line at the arena. Not everyone makes it.
The 2012 W. Conference playoff stampede is a 'suicide race'
It's basically eight teams, feet in stirrups, reigns whipping backsides, going hell-bent-for-leather down a hillside, racing to be one of the first three across the finish line come April 10th.
Dallas, Colorado, Calgary, LA, San Jose, Chicago, Minnesota, and Anaheim comprise the ponies.
Health, confidence and goaltending will ultimately decide which three get in, but rest assured all eight are going to kill themselves (and opponents) to get in.
So let's handicap the insanity:
Stars - should get Benn and Morrow back in the next few days/weeks which should have quite the impact. Kari Lehtonen is as good as any netminder in the league. Any.
Colorado - currently hottest team in the race. Goaltending has a mix of veteran savvy (Giguere) and an athletic yet spasmatic youngster (Varlamov)
Calgary - is getting healthy with return of Glencross and Smith last week, Moss this week, and Stempniak eventually. Kiprusoff is their MVP and like Lehtonen he can win games by himself.
LA - has Jonathan Quick in net. That's strong to very strong - he has been phenomenal. With all the moves they've made (coach change, trades, etc.) they have the potential to surge, but will they? Or, will it be the same goal-challenged act we've witnessed?
San Jose - is currently a mess. They've lost their standing as Pacific division leader and a lot of swagger. The goaltending of Niemi and Greiss has been well short of awe-inspiring. What they do have going for them though is: experience, a returning Martin Havlat and games in hand. However, games in hand are only good if you win them.
Chicago - is a mystery. How a team with that collection of talent can have such crap special teams results is baffling. Their captain isn't healthy and that stings. In goal sophomore Corey Crawford has, not surprisingly, suffered a sophomore slump and Ray Emery looks stiff as a corpse.
Minnesota - has Nik Backstrom in net and although he sucks in Shootouts he shines in stealing games behind a very suspect d-corps. Half of that defense has been turned over in the past week. Health has been part of their problem but so has lack of NHL talent. They addressed some of that in a trade with NJ.
Anaheim - got a late start but is making a furious charge. Hiller gives them excellent netminding although his style is an acquired taste. When Visnovsky was injured they weren't very good. He isn't hurt. The only question is, can they keep up the pace or have they exhausted the nag?
Take a deep breath, dig those heals in and banshee-scream 'Hehya!!!'
It has been said that games 40 to 60 - more accurately 41-60 or "3Q" - tell a team's General Manager what he has.
So what did the 2011-12 Dallas Stars tell Joe?
There are many signals, behaviors and factors for him to consider when disseminating info from the 20 games, chief among them injuries to Captain Brenden Morrow, Benn, Ribeiro and Souray, but also an arduous schedule with a ton of travel in the month of February.
All that aside, here are the cold, hard statistical facts he will most certainly be mulling over:
PP 8 for 53 (15%)
PK 54 of 67 (80.5%)
Won two in a row once
Scored 2 goals or fewer in 14 of the 20 games
Allowed 2 goals or fewer 10 times
Four wins in regulation
Ten regulation losses
I'm really interested to get Joe's take on Q3 and how his evaluation of the segment will impact what he does or doesn't do prior to Monday's Trade Deadline.
THEY AREN'T KILLING KARI, AND THEY AREN'T COMMITTING HARI-KARI (THEY'RE TRYING TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS)
There is a Japanese phenomenon known as Karoshi, in which employees are worked to death.
Some seem to think the Stars might be guilty of this in regards to their goaltender.
Tonight in Montreal will be Kari Lehtonen's 10th consecutive start, a season high and a taxing little run considering the schedule no doubt. But here are some things to consider:
#1 Prior to this stretch he hadn't started more than 4 in a row since late October/early November
#2 The big Finn (or 'Iso Suomi') has had plenty of down time. He had over a month without the mental and physical grind of games in December, when he was out with a groin injury. And, like every other Star not named Jamie Benn, he got 5 days away from the rink at the All-Star break in late January.
#3 He's only played 23 games over the past 3 months - Twenty-three.
It's simple to me, go with your best (within reason) until your best simply won't be good enough, ie. mathematically impossible to get into top 8.
And should you get down big relatively early in a game, pull him. Ed Belfour told me that
after getting yet another hook when the two were in Chicago, Mike Keenan explained to an - at the time - tempestuous Eagle (as if there is another kind) that if he was going to start Eddie in 70+ games he was going to have to pull him in a somewhat pre-determined number of them. I get that.
Someone had a terrific analogy about coaches and #1 goaltenders. They said starters are like a drug habit coaches can't shake; when the pressure mounts they just keep reaching for the pill bottle.
No need to call Dr Drew on Gully's behalf. Not yet...
Here's a repost in honor of Hockey Day in America:
I admit it, I get extremely nationalistic when hockey gathers for international play. I'm Canadian. It's what we do.
But buried under the toque wearing, red maple leaf face-painted front of Canadians at this year's World Junior tournament in Alberta is the fact that - despite the Americans putrid 7th place finish - the U.S. is on the come.
This year in the NHL a record 23 percent of all players are American born, and 'defenseman' seems to have been the position of choice when this current crop were first lacing em' up (Alex Goligoski, that's you) as there are more U.S. born d-men than there are from all of the European countries combined.
The genesis for this upward trend can probably best be traced back to USA Hockey's decision to establish a national development program back in 1997. That put the best young players on the same team, trained them, exposed them to the best international competition, and in a word "developed" them. Prior to that the American national teams would just throw a bunch of kids together at tournament time and hope for the best; Kind of like taking a group of kids who can't swim, throwing life-jackets on them, driving them to the middle of the lake, tossing them into the water and wishing them good luck.
And maybe most encouraging is there seems to be a robust appetite for the sport among little tyke Americans. Over the past 5 years the number of kids eight and under playing hockey has risen to around 100,000, a historical high.
The sport is growing, others aren't.
Could it be that the U.S. is slowly becoming the land of "hockey mom" and apple pie?
As the Stars continue to paw and claw for traction this season the absence of a fully healthy Brenden Morrow is not helping.
What team can just chug along without its captain?
The Minnesota Wild are in the same boat (and it's a tippy canoe). With their soul, Mikko Koivu injured they have appeared to be up a certain type of creek, and apparently he has the only paddle.
But back to Morrow, and his wonky back.
It's been eons since Brenden was 100% healthy. Maybe the start of the 2009-10 season is the closest, and that was on the heels of rehabbing his ACL surgery for the remainder of the 08-09 season and the following summer.
This season he's been a hollow shell of his former self, a facsimile. No longer able to be the alpha male in every corner and win every net front battle, he has appeared frustrated - which has led to penalties. And it has bothered him. He has felt like a bad teammate and leader when we all know he is the exact opposite. He used to be a pain to play against, now he's just in pain - constantly.
The Stars have missed his leadership. Not dressing room speeches or social co-ordinating but rather his style, drive, and passion. When healthy, Brenden invigorates the lineup, he changes momentum, he competes. He helps you win.
And they miss his statistical production too.
Morrow has always had this impressive fung shui like balance to his home and road production while others have been vastly better performers on home ice vs in enemy buildings.
Just think of where this team might be if he was able to perform to his usual standards, or even close to them; twenty-five to thirty goals, eight to ten goals on the powerplay. For a team struggling to score two a night lately and with a season-long anemia on the PP afflicting them, Brenden at 100% would surely help.
Can he get his back and neck maladies to settle enough to allow him to rejoin the playoff hunt? Maybe. But even so, what percentage of him will they be getting after a month out of uniform?
In the meantime, the reality is that without him there is a $4 million pothole in this team's
already budget-conscious payroll, and a gaping hole in the leadership department. Yes, the silver leaf lining is that in his absence others are getting an opportunity to expand their game, role, and their voice but that doesn't aid the urgency of the here and now.
A left winger stable that goes Eriksson, a healthy Morrow, and then Ott makes this team much more formidable. A powerplay with a strong, space-making Brenden Morrow in front of the net scores more. And the bottom line is; this team is a lot 'harder to play against', and thus defeat, with their captain leading the way.
If you need examples to jar your memory see the 2008 playoffs and the 2010 Olympic Games as refreshers. Which is what the Stars heart and soul needs right now, a total body refresher.
Vincour – said he would prefer fans stomp/clap/chanting ‘We Will Rock You’ Queen
After polling the players, and seeing their delight in picking a song, I think teams and the NHL should consider incorporating this into the game more - build a musical marriage between a player and a song.
I could see these unions being wonderful audio-enhancement for Shootouts, player intros, and after goals are scored.