Dallas Stars: Kevin Dineen

Notes: Stars return home with test vs. Panthers

November, 15, 2011
FRISCO -- After spending a week out on the road, the Dallas Stars will play five of their next six games at American Airlines Center.

The Stars, who are 6-1-0 at home, kick off the stretch Tuesday, when they host the Florida Panthers. The first game back after a lengthy road trip can be a challenge and, in this case, so will the opponent. The Panthers are off to a good start under new coach Kevin Dineen and they have been solid on the road, winning six of their first nine games away from home.

“They play hard, they compete hard,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “They’ve got puck-moving D now with [Brian] Campbell and [Ed] Jovanovski. Those guys jump into the play and they can play offense. We’re going to have to continue to play our game. They play that hard, in-your-face style too, so I think this is going to be a real good game. It’s going to be two teams that want to play similar.”

The Stars went 2-2-0 on their four-game road trip. They lost the final two games of the trip, falling 3-1 in Pittsburgh on Friday and then 5-2 at Detroit on Saturday. The two games were good measuring sticks for the Stars, coming against two of the better teams in the league.

“It was really good to play those two teams because you almost see their evolution of what they do well,” said Gulutzan. “They’ve had a few years to perfect what they’re doing. It was a good learning experience for us as coaches. We would do things a little differently if we played them again. They exposed us in some areas where we need to be better. Our players are going to learn from these games and the coaches learn too. It’s always a good thing. We’re going to inch forward.”

Gulutzan said over the weekend that the Stars had overlooked some of their structure the past couple of weeks, and on Monday the team went over video from the last couple games of the road trip.

“We tweaked some things and looked at video today and adjusted our game a little bit,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “For the most part, I think a lot of it was the work boots. It was a long trip and that last game you want to fall back on your structure a bit when you don’t get the work, there were some areas that broke down and we’ve adjusted those.”

Notes: Ott questionable for Tuesday

*Forward Steve Ott, who has missed the last five games with a hip pointer, practiced with the team Monday in Frisco, but he is questionable for Tuesday’s contest.

"It's going to be a game-time decision tomorrow," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said after Monday’s practice. "He's very, very close. He's a for sure for Friday. I'd say it's pretty close for tomorrow. He skated the last couple days at home. He's feeling pretty good. I think the only thing is his conditioning.”

*Defenseman Philip Larsen, recalled Saturday due to the broken thumb suffered by Alex Goligoski, practiced with the team Monday. He will not play Tuesday, according to Gulutzan.

Brenden Morrow Bobblehead Night

Tuesday night is Brenden Morrow Bobblehead Night at American Airlines Center. The Stars captain said he hasn’t seen the bobblehead, but he’s sure his kids are going to like it.

“If it looks like me or not, it has the No. 10 on it and they’ll think that’s pretty cool,” Morrow said.

Steve Ott has seen the Morrow bobblehead and thinks his teammate is pretty lucky.

“I think the doll’s probably a little better looking than Brenden,” Ott said.
NHL realignment will not happen this coming season, but it will come in 2012-13 and it may involve a more balanced schedule. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hinted at the schedule adjustment while addressing the media prior to the opening of the Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver Wednesday.

Bettman said that while realignment will be coming now that the Atlanta Thrashers are moving to Winnipeg, there’s not enough time to give it proper treatment prior to the 2011-12 season. As a result, Winnipeg will play in the Southeast Division for one season as the league sorts through the realignment issue.

Several teams will be looking to take advantage of realignment, including the Stars who could benefit from moving out of the Pacific Division and into a more time friendly and travel friendly division such as the Central.

“We have a number of clubs that would like to address specific issues on realignment. All those clubs need an opportunity to be heard,” said Bettman. “That's a process we'll go through the first half of next season, looking at the issues that clubs want to raise, looking at various possibilities, and trying to figure out what will make the most sense moving forward.

“If I had to guess anything, and this is purely speculation, as much as I hate to do that, because ultimately it's a Board decision, I think we'll wind up moving towards a slightly more balanced schedule to accommodate the variety of issues I've heard so far from the clubs.”

What that more balanced schedule will entail isn’t clear, but it could include more inter-conference games to ensure that each team plays in every NHL building during the season.

A few other notes:

*Bettman announced that he is creating a new department of player safety that will be headed by Brendan Shanahan, who also will be in charge of supplemental discipline next season. He will be taking over for Colin Campbell, who has stepped down from handling discipline but will his retain his position in the Hockey Operations department.

“First, I know this is one aspect of Colie's job that he hates. It could be the most thankless and worst job in hockey, particularly after enduring it for more than a decade,” said Bettman. “Two, both Colin and I believe that it is time to take a fresh look at the standards that we use, and if we're going to move to harsher discipline, that change needs to send a clear message, and we think it would probably be best to do it on a clean slate. Having Brendan, who only recently came off the ice after a wonderful career, will give us the adjustment and the focus and the credibility that this change will bring about.”

*NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said next season’ salary cap is expected to top $60 million and could go as high as $63.5 million.

*The Florida Panthers became the first of the teams looking for a new head coach to fill the vacancy, announcing today that they have hired Kevin Dineen. He takes over for Peter DeBoer, who has fired after three seasons behind the Florida bench. Dineen has the spent the last six seasons as the head coach of the Portland Pirates of the AHL.