from Saad Yousuf of The Atletic,
Multiple times this season, DeBoer has essentially said, in nicer words, that Suter is getting old and doesn’t have what he once did. Why then, is he playing similar minutes and roles? The Stars will be quick to point out Suter has his lowest average time on ice this season since his second year in 2006-07, when he was 22 years old, but he’s still second on the Stars in total time on ice and five-on-five time on ice this season, behind only Heiskanen. He’s still been a consistent presence quarterbacking the second power-play unit, despite being inefficient in that role.
The thing is, you know that DeBoer recognizes this. At various points this season, DeBoer took steps to change things. For a few weeks in late January, Suter’s total time on ice per game fell to fifth on the team among defensemen. In early December, DeBoer was rotating Lundkvist in at the point on the second power-play unit, something he revisited recently after the All-Star break as well. A couple of weeks ago, with Lundkvist riding pine and Suter available, DeBoer kept Heiskanen out to run point on both power-play units.
The conclusion I come to when considering all of this is that DeBoer doesn’t feel that anybody else is a significant upgrade over Suter. The emphasis here is on the word “significant.” As a coach, you’re managing more than just on-ice talent. You’re weighing pros and cons of every decision you make. If you’re scratching a young player, how can this affect him mentally and affect his confidence moving forward? If you’re calling a player out in the media, is that player built to handle such a thing?
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