Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet,
Biggest storyline to watch: Will the Jason Spezza experiment succeed, or will the Stars need to revamp next summer? Spezza becomes a UFA at the end of the 2014-15 campaign and Nill is confident he’ll sign him to an extension. Until he signs the extension, there will be a slight sense of unease. When the second-overall pick from the 2001 draft is healthy, he still has No. 1 centre ability. A one-two punch with Seguin and Spezza is outstanding on paper, and the Stars gave up too many assets for it not to work.
2014-15 bold prediction: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza and Valeri Nichushkin will each register at least 70 points as Dallas finishes third in the Central Division.
from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,
Having suited up for his hometown Jets for parts of their first two seasons back in Winnipeg, but limited by a string of injuries, Meech tried a new adventure last fall.
He signed with Dynamo Minsk of the KHL.
“In a different scenario I would have been there all year,” Meech said. “The city of Minsk was great. Obviously there’s things you’ve got to get used to — a different country, the language barrier, all that kind of thing. But it was a great experience for us.”
The hockey was something else, too, tailor-made, you’d think, for a smallish (5-foot-11), puck-moving defenceman.
“It’s a really good league. It’s a different style of game. But very skilled players. I played against some really good teams there.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stick it out the whole year there, because of my little issue.”
Twenty-three games into his season, a heart problem Meech has had, on and off, for several years flared up.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
In a league where one of the most common refrains is that it’s next to impossible to acquire top-end centers, Jim Nill picked up Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza just over a year on the job as general manager in Dallas.
No wonder the Stars are a trendy pick ahead of this season to continue its onward climb in the tough Western Conference.
``I think Dallas is ready to take a leap in with the big boys,’’ one Eastern Conference GM told ESPN.com this week.
"It's no surprise to anyone in the Western Conference that watched Jim Nill and his staff quietly weave his Magic in Detroit ... that the same culture of excellence is evolving quickly in Dallas through solid drafting and astute trades and FA signings,’’ another rival Western Conference team executive told ESPN.com via email.
from Ian Mendes of TSN,
After the Senators missed the playoffs in the 2013-14 season, there were rumblings that Spezza was on the trade market.
General manager Bryan Murray confirmed that Spezza and his agent Rick Curran had requested a trade in May, which created a ton of media interest leading up to the NHL Draft weekend at the end up of June.
Spezza declined an opportunity to head to Nashville in a trade and says he wanted to end up in Dallas. He wishes the entire episode was kept quiet, but he harbors no ill feelings towards Murray or the Senators organization for the fact the trade request became public.
"I think obviously the goal of mine was to kind of get traded without the hoopla around it and all the conversation that went around it. The reality of it is, that was never going to happen," Spezza said. "So I just tried to stay quiet, and I talked to Bryan a few times throughout the process. I have a lot of respect for Bryan, I think he has a lot of respect for me, and unfortunately, things get kind of dragged out through the papers and the media and sometimes things get skewed, but that's the nature of the game and it was my decision to ask him to move me and I had to live with the consequences. But, I'm happy with the end result."
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
The Taylor versus Tyler drama at the 2010 draft was, really, driven more by alliteration than uncertainty. Taylor Hall may not have been a slam-dunk first-overall pick ahead of fast-rising Tyler Seguin, but by the time the Edmonton Oilers brass walked to the stage in Los Angeles, it would’ve been genuinely surprising to hear them call a name other than Hall’s.
Four years later, however, you can make cracking cases for both players as preferable to the other—which is exactly what we’re about to do.
Hall and Seguin have had different experiences through the early stages of their pro careers, Seguin having been to the Stanley Cup final twice with the Bruins, while Hall has yet to see his first playoff game in Edmonton. By the same token, both players have endured their share of hardship. Hall has faced perpetual questions about when the sad-sack Oilers will turn things around, while Seguin never blended in Boston, leading to a much-needed trade to Dallas just over 12 months ago.
Beyond similar first names, these players are linked by all-world speed and skill. But if we were to draft all over again, who would you take first?
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
"They have the pieces and the personnel, it’s just a matter of whether it will come together," said Modano, who helped bring Dallas its first Stanley Cup in 1999.
Trades for top playmaking centers like Seguin and Spezza don't come by often and they aren't easy to make, but Modano wasn't surprised Nill was able to pull it off in consecutive offseasons.
Modano, regarded as one of the best American-born centers to play the game, has known Nill for a long and knows him to be a savvy hockey mind. Nill knows the game, how to treat his players and understands the business side.
"I think it says a lot about Jim Nill. Good GMs around the league have a way of luring good players to play for their organization," said Modano, who amassed 561 goals and 1,374 points in 1,499 NHL games. "That comes with his history with the [Detroit Red] Wings, working with Kenny Holland, [Mike] Ilitch.
"You create some opportunities for individuals getting a second chance or reinventing themselves as players. He's kind of got that asset to him that he's able to do that and get them excited about being here. The stability with ownership here, that does a lot too."
“When I actually saw the Spezza trade, or heard about it, I didn’t believe it at first. I had to go online, social media these days, and see if it was confirmed. Get right on my Twitter and type it in: ‘Jason Spezza, is he here or not.”
I’m really excited, it’s made this summer even longer just cause with our new acquisitions and how good we felt we were coming together last year, you really wish it was October already.
I think everyone’s ready to go. I’ve been talking, even seeing the guys so much this summer, it’s surprising for an offseason.
In Boston, I didn’t see my teammates that often, I guess, everyone kind of does their own thing. But this summer, with the Stars, it seems like we’re always together every other week, but everyone’s excited and ready for training camp to start.”
-Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars. More from Seguin at the Dallas Morning News.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
"When you look at how young we are with some of our talent, it will be how they manage those expectations that are going to be placed upon them," Ruff said. "There's going to be no free nights."
The good news is Dallas fared well against the Avalanche, Blues, Blackhawks and Wild in the second half last season, going 5-2-1. Overall, Dallas was 12-10-6 against the other playoff teams in the West, including 5-2-2 against the three Pacific Division qualifiers.
"Our guys know they can compete against those teams," Nill said. "That's what excites me about our group. Our dressing room is unbelievable. They play for each other and they play the right way."
Nill has given the Stars the tools by making several shrewd personnel decisions since he was hired 15-plus months ago. His focus has been on building through the middle.
from the CP via MetroNews,
A judge has ruled the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League broke federal environmental laws while renovating his waterfront vacation home in Kamloops, B.C.
The charges were laid after Tom Gaglardi and Northland Properties ordered workers to alter the shore of Kamloops Lake while constructing a boat launch. Gaglardi is due back in court on Aug. 21 to set a date for sentencing.
During the trial, former Northland employee Jim Parks said he was ordered to destroy documents and throw a computer hard drive “in the lake” when federal investigators began looking into alleged environmental improprieties at the home....
The maximum penalties for harmful alteration of fish habitat are fines of up to $1 million and or six months in jail.
a bit more...
from Alex Silverman of SportsBusiness Daily,
The Stars took a significant step forward in ’13-14, making the playoffs for the first time since Owner Tom Gaglardi bought the team out of bankruptcy in ’11.
The team followed up that milestone by adding veteran scorers Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky to its young core. With the hope that the team will carry its on-ice momentum into ’14-15, the front office, led by President & CEO Jim Lites, is working to put the team’s business operations in a position to follow suit.
Lites admitted the team likely is not in a position to turn a profit this season, but said that the goal is climbing closer. Lites: “Once we can sell the lower arena of the AmericanAirlines Center out on a season-ticket basis at fair prices, we’re going to be well on our way to being profitable on an annual basis.”
Lites said that the team is 80% of the way to selling out the arena's lower bowl on a nightly basis. The team has a full season-ticket base of 9,000 heading into this season, up from 6,000 when Gaglardi took over.
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