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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Going Retread Is Retarded

What makes analyzing the foibles of the power players in the NHL so amusing is that they very often continue to make the same mistakes repeatedly thus dooming franchises to continued failure.

It began a couple weeks ago when the Montreal Canadiens announced that their new head coach would be former Florida Panthers coach and general manager Jacques Martin. Martin, of course, is one of the many contributors to driving the Panthers into the ground over the years before stepping out from behind the bench and hiring former Canadian juniors coach Pete DeBoer.

Of all the bad moves Martin made over the years in Florida, his best move was hiring the very green DeBoer to try and make something out of the deck chairs on his version of the Titanic in Florida. The results? Florida just barely missed the playoffs only losing out in the number of wins compared to the Canadiens who they finished tied with for points in the Eastern Conference.

The way the Panthers were arranged, well, let's just say that some writers out there didn't have a lot of faith for how they were going to do given the apparent lack of talent and throwing a new coach to the wolves with such a rag-tag bunch.


So DeBoer does well enough for Bob Gainey to think that hiring Jacques Martin must be a good idea, right? Well, OK some (Four to be exact) Habs fans are at least warming up to it sarcastically. That's not a good sign.

So of course that leads some stupid owners to think, "Well shoot, we've got to get in on this before we lose out on our opportunity to give some failed reject yet another chance to prove why they've lost their job over and over again."

Is it any shock that Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks is that stupid owner?

In spite of the fanatical drama created last year thanks to the Sean Avery fiasco and Marty Turco's abysmal start to the season, the Dallas Stars rallied to be mostly respectable in a very difficult Western Conference. All of that was petty drama for Stars owner Tom Hicks and new general manager Joe Nieuwendyk as they first fired head coach Dave Tippett and then hired Marc Crawford to replace him behind the bench.

Look out Nelson, Crawford will send Krys Barch after you for laughing at Tom Hicks.

Uh... what? Why Marc Crawford?

He's a guy who was a terrible fit in Los Angeles, wore out his welcome in Vancouver (not to mention his fingerprints being all over the Steve Moore-Todd Bertuzzi situation) and saw his only real success with a team full of superstars in Colorado ten years ago.

Then again, he spent the last year or two working on Canadian television as an analyst so hey, he's got to be good right?!


Given how soon this decision came down after Joe Nieuwendyk's hiring, there's little doubt here that he's got a plan on how he wants to set the team up and for that, I guess, Nieuwendyk deserves the benefit of the doubt but some of his quotes at the press conference raise some questions for me:

"We went through an extensive process of evaluation, talking through many areas of the organization and evaluating where we were as a club and we believe that Marc has the qualities that we need moving forward. I talked to several former players of Marc's, such as Joe Sakic, Mike Keane and Trevor Linden and they all spoke very highly of Marc."

Well that sounds peachy, but how about the guys in the locker room that you're going to be managing?

"I did not speak to any current Stars players because I don't think any of them have ever played for Marc before."


Well there it is, Joe Nieuwendyk rules with an iron fist.

Perhaps this is his subtle way of telling the guys that the sort of rampant semi-mutiny that appeared to roll through the locker room last year (in particular with regard to Avery) won't be tolerated. For that, bringing in a fiery personality like Crawford may actually be a good thing.

After all, given the brand of hockey that Crawford is going to want to play, expect an even bigger role to be played by Steve Ott, someone that Crawford may view as Bertuzzi-esque in his size and physical play. I don't want to do the obvious tie-in with questionable physical play, but Steve Ott makes it kind of easy to do that.

As for some of the other things Nieuwendyk and Crawford will have to contend with, Stars Scene takes a nice peek at the list for them to contend with and one thing in particular gave me pause:

3 – Get a capable backup goalie for Turco

Oooh, I know how to handle this one and I think Marc Crawford will be a really easy sale for it too considering his love of this goaltender is like that of a fat kid and cake.

Dan Cloutier at his best in Vancouver.

Yeah, come on, you know we all want to see Dan Cloutier back in the NHL to serve up some of the most embarrassing goals you've ever seen.

Perhaps Tobias Stephan isn't such a bad idea after all.

After all of that, what does Crawford have to say about the current outlay of the Stars?

"I think that what impresses me so much about the Stars is the tremendous core values that team already has in place. They have a great foundation of habits that I will continue to build upon. You don't lose the strengths of previous coaches and previous regimes, there's still a part of Bob Gainey, still a big part of Ken Hitchcock and huge part of Dave Tippett still with this team and my job will be to add to that moving forward. I'm confident that the strengths I'm going to bring to the team are going to help the Dallas Stars."

There's Bob Gainey's name again. And Ken Hitchcock. I'm sure we'll hear about Dave Tippett landing somewhere else soon enough (New Jersey, perhaps?). I don't know quite what the "core values" of the Dallas Stars are but given how the roster is set up, they apparently value either beating you up (Ott, Krys Barch) or employing diving sissies (Mike Ribeiro) to drive Mike Modano crazy.

The key components of the Stars from this point on should be James Neal, Brad Richards, Brenden Morrow and Marty Turco. The team needs a lot of blueline help and were ravaged by injuries last year along those lines. They lack some serious forward depth while Joel Lundqvist and Loui Eriksson are nice pieces, they need a lot more here.

Rebuilding this team is going to be a tough job and I surely hope that Nieuwendyk is capable of handling it with a crazy overlord of an owner in Hicks watching him and a gamble retread of a coach in Crawford trying to make his pieces work.

A hire like this I'm sure makes the Stars brass feel like they're going to recapture some of the magic but I can't help but think that recycling old blood like Crawford is only going to make things worse.

It's up to Nieuwendyk in the off-season to make sure things don't get out of hand further in Dallas because things could go south fast for Dallas in the meantime, their division isn't exactly a cakewalk anymore.

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