The Stars season is over, and earlier today they fired head coach Marc Crawford after two years of sparing us to death with his hair and mediocre hockey. Now, it’s up to Joe Niewendyk to find Crawford’s replacement, adding to the list of things the Stars have on the offseason agenda. Here’s a rundown of everything the Stars need to accomplish this summer.
1. Resolve the Ownership Debacle
Tom Hicks is the biggest problem with this team right now, and Stars fans are wondering when their knight in shining armor will come and save them from the same man who put the Texas Rangers in such a bad financial way (not to mention FC Liverpool, the man is an international joke).
Hicks has been shopping the Stars for close to a year now, and while he’s had a few nibbles, there have been no serious discussions about a sale. One name that continues to pop up in these rumors is Mark Cuban. I’m torn on whether or not I want him owning the Stars, but that’s a blog for another day. Regardless of who it is, a new owner, and financial stability, is essential if the Stars want to accomplish anything else on their list this summer.
2. Sign Brad Richards to a long term deal
The best player on the team, and arguably one of the best in the NHL, is a free agent this summer, and it is imperative that the Stars sign him to a long-term deal. He already voiced his interest in the New York Rangers before the trade deadline, when the Stars were incredibly close to dealing him for a handful of useful parts.
If the Stars let him slip away, they’ll really regret not trading him earlier this year. After all, the Stars demands were so high, the Rangers were scared away. Also, I feel Niewendyk didn’t lower what he wanted for Richards because he felt that trading Richards meant sacrificing making the playoffs this year. Well look what happened. No playoffs, and now there’s a potential for no Richards and nothing in return.
3. Find a new coach
The Stars have to be kicking themselves for getting rid of Dave Tippett now that he’s taken Phoenix to the playoffs two years in a row. However, that’s neither here nor there.
Now that Crawford is out, Dallas needs to find a new coach. Some coaches that are available are Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller and Ken Hitchcock, all of whom have ties to the Stars organization.
Carbonneau was a player on the Stars from 1995 to 2000, and was a member of the Stanley Cup Championship team in 1999. He coached the Montreal Canadiens from 2005-2009, finishing with a record of 124-83-23.
Kirk Muller joined the Stars as a player midway through the 1999-2000 season and played with Dallas until he retired in 2003. He finished his stint with the Stars with 18 goals and 49 assists. He served as an assistant coach under Carbonneau with the Canadiens, and he is currently still an assistant coach for Montreal.
Every single Stars fan should recognize the name Ken Hitchcock. Arguably the most successful coach in Stars history, Hitchcock was the head coach from 1995-2002. He went 277-154-60-12 (Wins-losses-ties-OT losses). He led the Stars to their only Stanley Cup Championship.
The only thing I can think of that would be strange about hiring Hitch, would be the fact that current GM Joe Niewendyk was a player under Hitchcock. I don’t know how that situation would play out. Same goes for Carbonneau and Muller, who both played with Niewendyk in Dallas.
Regardless, these have to be the three front runners to replace Crawford as head coach.
4. Bolster the Defense
Assuming the Stars can hold onto Richards (and that’s assuming a lot), the major holes that need to be filled are on defense. After Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas, the Stars are incredibly thin when it comes to defensemen. More often than not, goalies Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft were placed in difficult situations that either led to goals or ridiculous saves thanks to the lack of defensive ability the Stars showed.
A number of top end defensemen are due to become free agents this year, including Eric Brewer, Scott Hannan, Ed Jovanoski, James Wisnewski, Andrei Markov, Christian Erhoff, Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle. If the Stars can land one of these guys, that will go a long way to shoring up the holes on defense.
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, everything the Stars do relies on the ownership situation, and if it doesn’t get any better by next season, don’t expect the Stars to.