Dallas Stars: Dallas Stars

DALLAS -- Ten years after leaving the Dallas Stars organization, Bob Gainey returned Wednesday and was formally introduced as the team’s new Senior Advisor to the Hockey Department.

“It's a good time for me because I have followed the trail of the changes and the progress in the NHL from the administrative view over the past 20 years,” Gainey said during a press conference at American Airlines Center. “We’ve had a number of changes to the CBA, there’s been expansion and big changes a few years ago on how the game is played on the ice with rule changes. I've been able to live and adapt through all of that and take certain parts out of each of them that can apply today.”

The 58-year-old Gainey, who was acting in a similar capacity with the Montreal Canadiens until a couple months ago, said he will be a “consultant without boundaries.” He will offer input on various issues throughout the organization, on both the hockey side and the business side.

“I’ve had many experiences in pro hockey over a long period of time in the NHL,” Gainey said. “My goal would be to use some of those experiences, some of those valuable lessons learned to assist Tom Gaglardi in his ownership position, to assist Jim Lites in his position as president and CEO and to assist Joe Nieuwendyk in his operation of the hockey department in any way possible to bring the Dallas Stars in a better competitive light, better financial light and to rejoin in the sports community in Dallas as an important player.”

Gainey, who won five Stanley Cups as a player with Montreal, was the head coach of the Stars from 1990 to 1996 and general manager from 1992 to 2002. He was the architect of the Stars’ 1999 Stanley Cup championship team. He was GM in Montreal from 2003 to 2010, making the playoffs four of five years and finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2007-08.

“Bob Gainey is a winner,” said Lites. “We want to win the Stanley Cup. That's our goal, and that’s all we’re thinking about. Having a person of Bob's stature will help us get there.”

As far as Gainey’s exact responsibilities and how everything will work, that is still a work in progress.

“As we move ahead we’ll continue to define the description of things,” said Nieuwendyk. “Using Bob as a resource, so much history, so much experience, wisdom and insight, I will be able to benefit a lot from those things. We’ll define things as we move along. From my perspective, it’s a tremendous opportunity. I am really looking forward to communicating with Bob on a number of levels with team related issues.”

And it will take some time for Gainey to re-familiarize himself with the organization. He’ll spend time learning the players so he can offer input on that side of things.

“An outside set of eyes can bring a different view. Somebody that is overvalued, I might have a different view of that or somebody that is undervalued, I could have a different view of that,” Gainey said. “I am going to need to see training camp, some of the season and some of the games in Austin to be able to apply my opinion and my analysis to the players that are in the system.”

The hiring of Gainey is another step in the process as the Stars try to move forward Gaglardi, who said turning around a team that has missed the playoffs four years in a row will take time, but that adding someone of Gainey’s caliber on the management side of things is a big boost.

“We want to get better and we need to get better obviously and that's a process, unfortunately,” Gaglardi said. “I wish there were quicker ways to get there, but the only way to do this the right way is with young players and through the draft and developing players. That's what I've learned in my stint as an owner in another league (Western Hockey League) and I don’t think it’s any different in this league. Free agency is one route to get better, but it's wrought with pitfalls. You have to be very smart, and at some level lucky, to benefit that way. And obviously there are trades.

“The best way I know how to get better is to have great management, so it’s exciting for me to have a man of Bob’s experience, status and wisdom express a desire to join our organization. It was a no-brainer for us.”
Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen left Sunday’s World Championship game between Finland and the United States with a lower body injury after a collision with Team USA’s Bobby Ryan.

It happened with just over seven minutes left in the game when Ryan fell on Lehtonen in the Finnish crease. Lehtonen left the game and was replaced by Petri Vehanen.

There was no immediate word on the specifics of Lehtonen’s injury or the extent.

“Lehtonen is injured. That is all I know,” Finland coach Jukka Jalonen told media after the game.

Lehtonen stopped 25 of 30 shots in the game, which the USA won 5-0. It was a rough outing for Lehtonen, who was knocked around a few times in the crease by a U.S. team that dominated play from the drop of the puck.

Earlier in the third period, Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski was shaken up when he was hit from behind and slammed hard into the endboards by Finland’s Anssi Salmela, who received a boarding major and game misconduct. Goligoski returned to the game. Salmela is expected to face disciplinary action from the IIHF.

Goligoski had one assist and three shots on goal in 18:50 of playing time for the USA, which clinched a berth in the quarterfinals with its victory.

Stars goalie Richard Bachman backed up Jimmy Howard, who stopped all 18 shots he faced to earn the shutout for Team USA.

Sunday’s games

USA 5, Finland 0
Russia 2, Czech Republic 0
Slovakia 1, Switzerland 0
Norway 12, Germany 4

Monday’s games

Belarus vs. France, 8:15 a.m.
Latvia vs. Denmark, 9:15 a.m.
Kazakhstan vs. Finland, 12:15 p.m.
Italy vs. Russia, 1:15 p.m.


The Dallas Stars made the hiring of former GM Bob Gainey as a consultant official today. Gainey will be introduced at a press conference next Wednesday. Here's the release from the Stars.
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club has hired Bob Gainey as Senior Advisor to the Hockey Department.

Gainey, 58, returns for his second stint with the Stars’ organization. He was the club’s head coach from 1990-1996, and served as General Manager of the team from 1992-2002. Gainey was truly the architect in leading the Stars franchise to seven consecutive playoff berths, five division titles, two Stanley Cup Finals appearances, and of course, the 1999 Stanley Cup championship.

"I have great faith in the vision Tom Gaglardi, Joe Nieuwendyk and Jim Lites have in rebuilding this franchise,” said Gainey. “I'm looking forward to rejoining the organization, and lending my advice and guidance as we strive to get the Stars back on top."

"I'm extremely pleased that we are adding a respected hockey man the caliber of Bob Gainey as a senior advisor to our staff,” said Dallas Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk. “His experience and wisdom in this business is second-to-none, and he'll be an incredible asset as we continue to build our team to championship levels."

A native of Peterborough, Ontario, Gainey most recently worked in the Montreal Canadiens organization, serving in a variety of capacities, including general manager of the club from 2003-2010. He served as the Habs’ interim head coach on two occasions and was most recently a special advisor to the general manager. In his time with the Canadiens, he helped lead the team to playoff berths in four of five seasons as GM, including the 2007-08 season when Montreal ended the regular season with the Eastern Conference’s best record.

“The Stars had a fantastic opportunity to add a universally-respected hockey man in Bob Gainey to the mix, and his presence and voice will be extremely beneficial to the group moving forward,” said Stars President Jim Lites.

A 1992 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Gainey won five Stanley Cups as a player, an NHL-record four Selke Trophies as the league’s best defensive forward, as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the 1978 Playoffs. In 1,160 career regular season NHL games, all with the Montreal Canadiens, Gainey amassed 239 goals and 262 assists for 501 points. He added 73 points (25 goals, 48 points) in 182 career Stanley Playoff contests.
The Dallas Stars are close to hiring former GM Bob Gainey as a consultant, team president and CEO Jim Lites said Wednesday. An official announcement is expected next week.

“I’m a big fan,” Lites said. “We’re excited because of what Bob brings to this market, to this team and to the needs we’ve identified collectively. I just think he is going to be great.”

Gainey, who won five Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens as a player, joined the Stars franchise as head coach in 1990 and became GM in 1992. He stepped down as coach in 1996, but kept the GM title through 2002. He was the GM when the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999.

He also served as Montreal’s GM from 2003-2010 and had been a consultant with the Canadiens until just recently.

Lites said Gainey could consult on a variety issues throughout the organization, especially as an extra voice of input for GM Joe Nieuwendyk.

“He’s actually offered to help in any way he can,” Lites said. “But’s he’s really going to be a senior adviser guy on issues like, not so much who should we hire as opposed to do we need to hire anybody? How do you want to grow? How do we make ourselves bigger and better? Do we need more experience in a particular place? Do we need a more experienced guy in Cedar Park and who should those candidates be?

“At the end of the day those decisions will be made by Joe but Joe will enjoy, I think, a deeper, richer voice. And Joe has been real supportive. Joe has good chemistry with Bob."

Lites added that the hiring of Gainey is another sign that Tom Gaglardi is willing to do what it takes to get the franchise on the right track.

“The market will appreciate that Tom Gaglardi is saying that I am going to make us better,” Lites said. “You don’t get Bob Gainey for ten bucks.”

Prospect Note: OHL Finals

Dallas Stars prospects Jamie Oleksiak and Brett Ritchie are on the brink of elimination in the Ontario Hockey League Finals. Their Niagara team lost 4-1 to London Wednesday night in Game 4 of the series.

London leads the series 3-1. Ritchie had an assist in Wednesday’s game. Game 5 is Friday night.

The winner of the series will advance to the Memorial Cup, which will feature the champions of the Western Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and this year’s host team, the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.

World Championship begins Friday

May, 3, 2012
5/03/12
10:19
PM CT
The 2012 World Championship gets underway Friday in Sweden and Finland, and seven Dallas Stars players are at the tournament.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski and goaltender Richard Bachman are playing for the United States. Forward Jamie Benn is playing for Canada. Loui Eriksson is among the several NHL players on Sweden’s roster. Kari Lehtonen is the Finland’s No.1 goaltender. And Philip Larsen is suiting up for Denmark.

Stars forward Tomas Vincour is with the Czech team, but it’s still not clear if he’ll be playing in the tournament. He apparently won’t be playing Friday since he was not among the players registered by the Czechs on Thursday. The Czechs registered only the 20 players who would dress for Friday’s game against Denmark.

The Teams

Group H (Helsinki, Finland): Belarus, Canada, Finland, France, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Slovakia, United States

Group S (Stockholm, Sweden: Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Sweden

The Format

The preliminary round features round-robin play within each group. The top four teams in each group after the preliminary round will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be played within each group with the first place team playing the fourth place team and the second place team playing the third place team.

In the semifinals the winners will crossover groups. Group H 1st vs. 4th winner will play Group S 2nd vs. 3rd winner. Group S 1st vs. 4th winner will play Group H 2nd vs. 3rd winner.

The two semifinal winners will play for the gold and the two semifinal losers will play for the bronze.

Links

International Ice Hockey Federation (Official tournament site)
IIHF YouTube Channel
USA Hockey
Hockey Canada

Friday’s Schedule (Times are Central)

USA vs. France, 4:15 a.m. (NBC Sports Network)
Italy vs. Germany, 5:15 a.m.
Slovakia vs. Canada, 8:15 a.m.
Denmark vs. Czech Republic, 9:15 a.m.
Finland vs. Belarus, 12:15 p.m.
Norway vs. Sweden, 1:15 p.m.
FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Stars goaltender Richard Bachman had a season even he didn’t envision when he showed up at training camp last September. He started in the AHL, won the NHL backup job midseason, and next month he’ll represent the United States in international play for the first time when he suits up at the World Championship.

“It all happened very quick when you really look at everything, from the end of November to now, everything that has happened, but it’s been a fun ride and I’m just trying to enjoy every chance I can,” Bachman said.

It has been quite a ride for the 24-year-old Bachman, who came into Dallas Stars training camp expected to battle with Tyler Beskorowany for the No. 3 goaltender spot in the organization. But an injury to Stars No.1 goalie Kari Lehtonen and the struggles of backup Andrew Raycroft opened the door for Bachman, who was recalled from the Texas Stars of the AHL in late November and never looked back.

He won his first three starts and five of his first seven. He finished the season 8-5-1 with a 2.77 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. He gave the Stars some stability in the backup position.

“I learned a lot this year,” Bachman said. “I came in and tried to learn the NHL game, the speed, the shots, the preparation and then I kind of switched my role into a backup role, which I was pretty unfamiliar with. Just preparing and being ready to go at the drop of a hat was also one of the really big things I took from this year. Learning how to do that, I think, is good. Other than that, I just enjoyed every second.”

There were some big wins along the way. He won his first start, stopping 26 of 27 shots in a 2-1 win over Los Angeles at Staples Center. In his second start, at Madison Square Garden, he shut out the New York Rangers, making 34 saves. He also posted wins in Chicago and Vancouver.

“I played in some pretty fun arenas and pretty fun environments,” Bachman said. “It’s what you want to play in; you want to play in those games. Actually, you want to play in all of them, but if you’ve got to pick some arenas, I got to play in some pretty cool ones. I look back and it’s almost a little shocking where I played in the last couple months. As I said before, it’s been a heck of a ride and a lot of fun.”

Bachman will now get to represent the United States in international competition for the first time when he plays at the World Championship, which gets underway May 4 in Finland and Sweden.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for me,” Bachman said. “It gives me a chance to play more hockey and it will be a lot of fun. Getting to go over to Europe, I’ve never been over there, so I am looking forward to the experience.”

Bachman was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, but grew up in the Denver area and played at Colorado College. He’s spent a lot of time around USA Hockey, which is based in Colorado Springs, but he’s never had a chance to play for the U.S. on the international stage.

“You’re near the program or you see it and I’ve just never been able to be a part of it,” he said. “Now I get that opportunity, so I am really excited.”

2012 World Championship

When: May 4 – May 20
Where: Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden
Television: NBC Sports Network will carry all the Team USA preliminary round games, all four quarterfinal games, a semifinal game and the gold medal game

Notes: Stars fire some executives

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
9:20
PM CT
There was a behind the scenes shake up at the Dallas Stars offices in Frisco on Monday as some senior executives were let go.

Among those fired Monday were Assistant Vice President, Communications Rob Scichili, Senior Director of Game Entertainment and Events Jon Adams and Manager, Digital Media Lane Pate.

The changes in the front office have been going on for a while. Chief Financial Officer Robert Hutson had been let go previously.

Player/prospect notes

*Stars forward Tomas Vincour had one goal in two games for Czech Republic at the Euro Hockey Challenge over the weekend. Vincour, who is still in the mix for a spot on the Czech’s roster for the World Championship, will be playing for his country at the Euro Hockey Tour, which begins on Thursday.

Stars defenseman Philip Larsen also played at the Euro Hockey Challenge, picking up no points in two games for Denmark. Larsen is on Denmark’s roster for the World Championship, which gets underway May 4 in Sweden and Finland.

*Stars defense prospect Jamie Oleksiak (1st round/2011) and forward prospect Brett Ritchie (2nd round/2011) each picked up an assist as Niagara defeated Ottawa 5-2 Monday night in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. Niagara leads the OHL’s Eastern Conference Finals 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday night.

*Dallas Stars forward prospect Emil Molin’s Brynas team won the Swedish Elite League Championship, defeating Skelleftea, which featured Dallas defense prospect John Klingberg. Molin (4th round/2011) had one assist and a plus-three rating in 10 playoff games, but didn’t see a lot of ice time. Klingberg (5th round/2010) had four assists and a minus- six rating in 16 playoff games.

*The Idaho Steelheads, Dallas’ ECHL affiliate, had its season end Sunday when it was knocked out of the playoffs with a 2-1 overtime loss to Las Vegas, which won the second round series in five games.
The Dallas Stars and Texas Stars announced this morning that Texas Stars head coach Jeff Pyle and assistant coach Jeff Truitt have been relieved of their duties.

Texas finished last in the AHL's Western Conference and 29th in a 30 team league with a 31-40-5 record this season. The team missed the playoffs for the first time in its three year existence.

"These are difficult decisions," said Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. "We fell short of where we thought the bar needed to be this year with respect to our minor league team. I think looking ahead we realize the importance of the situation here moving forward, especially with all those kids we have coming in to that team. We just felt it was the right decision for our organization moving forward."

Several of Dallas' top prospects will play in Texas next season, including goaltender Jack Campbell, defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, defenseman Patrik Nemeth, forward Alex Chiasson and forward Austin Smith. Campbell, Chiasson and Smith played there the final few weeks of this season.

Pyle and Truitt took over the Texas Stars last summer after head coach Glen Gulutzan and assistant Paul Jerrard, who had guided Texas to the playoffs in the team's first two seasons, were promoted to the Dallas Stars' coaching staff.

Nieuwendyk said the Stars are in no rush to find a replacement.

"We'll let the dust settle a bit and we'll have plenty of time to go through the [search process]," Nieuwendyk said.
FRISCO -- Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow admits 2011-12 wasn’t his season, and he simply wants to put it behind him and set his sights on 2012-13.

Morrow played in just 57 games this season and registered 11 goals, the second lowest total in his NHL career. He missed 25 games due to injuries, primarily back and neck issues. It wasn’t what he expected after he registered a career-high 33 goals in 2010-11.

“It’s the toughest one I’ve had,” Morrow said. “Any year the team doesn’t make the playoffs is frustrating and disappointing, but to have the season I had right from the start of the year, with that knee injury in the first exhibition game in Montreal, it just added up and added up. I’ll wipe this one clean and start fresh next year.”

Morrow played through the back and neck issues for a good part of the season, but sat out a couple weeks in November and December, and then was out for more than a month just after the All-Star break.

After that last time on the shelf, Morrow returned for the final 14 games of the season and he felt better. He wasn’t 100 percent and his playing time was scaled back, but he believes that an offseason of rest and conditioning will have him ready for next season.

"The back didn't seem to really be a problem. It was more the disk in the neck that were bothersome,” Morrow said of the final part of the season. “The good news is that every doctor I saw – three or four of them – all had the same opinion, which is the neck isn't going to be a problem. It just needs some rest, and settle those disks down before I get started for another grind."

You have to wonder if Morrow’ style of play has taken a toll over the years and if he’ll have to alter his physical style moving forward, but the Dallas captain said it’s not an issue.

“I think I’ve already been leaning in that direction the last few years,” he said “I don’t think your instincts are ever going to change. You’re still going to finish checks when your instincts tell you to, but I don’t think I am as physical or run around with the aggression I did when I was 20. Everyone’s game evolves and mine has kind of gone in that direction.”

And he said he thinks he can still be an effective goal scorer where he does his best scoring, within ten feet of the goal and in.

“I am not going to shy away from those areas,” he said. “I know that’s probably attributed to a lot of the problems I’ve been having, but I know why I am in the league, too. That’s where I am going to be. I'm actually comfortable saying that how much better I felt the last two weeks of the season compared to what I was dealing with before. I don't think health is going to be an issue."

Improving power play a focus for Stars

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
12:46
AM CT
FRISCO -- It’s no secret that the Dallas Stars power play was a sore spot this season. The numbers are well documented. It was the worst in the league at 13.5 percent. That percentage was the worst in franchise history and the 33 goals scored set a franchise mark for power play futility as well.

But here are some more numbers. The Stars were 20-6-3 this season when they scored on the power play and 22-29-2 when they didn’t. In their 42 wins they were 24-138 on the power play for a 17.4 percent conversion rate. In games they didn’t win they were 9-106 or 8.5 percent.

The power play was a hot topic the Stars faded away in the playoff race and it was still a topic as the Stars held exit interviews and met with the media this week.

“I am sure that will be number one on Glen Gulutzan’s agenda this summer, breaking that down and analyzing,” Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said of the power play. “There was a lot of discussion about Jamie Benn not being out there as much as some other guys. There was a time period where Mike Ribeiro, Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson were kind of carrying this team and having some success, but it didn’t translate on the power play for any of our guys and we’re really going to have dig in hard and figure out why.”

When asked about possible offseason moves, Nieuwendyk mentioned the power play as an area that needed to be addressed.

Gulutzan said the Stars had the personnel to have a better power play this season, but they just didn’t get the job done.

“I don’t think we need to bring in anyone for the power play. As coaches I think we can do a better job,” Gulutzan said. “The power play comes with a little bit of confidence and that got in our kitchens a little bit. I think we’d go about thing somewhat differently with our power play, but we changed it four or five times. Everybody focuses a little bit on the end, but we were getting pressure from day one to game 82 on that thing. We changed it four times and who played with who four times, and I think it just got in our kitchen a little bit.”

Gulutzan has some valid points. The Stars’ power play woes took center stage after a dismal performance in the loss to San Jose that basically doomed its playoff chances, but it was erratic for most of the year. And there were a lot of different combinations of players used over the season, too. The only constant was that it struggled most of the time. There were a few good runs on the power play, but they were offset by some long stretches of low productivity.

“It’s the number one part we have to get better at,” said Stars forward Loui Eriksson. “We have to score more on the power play, that’s the way we can win more games. … We have to outwork them. We’ve been a little too sloppy sometimes. We need to put more pucks to the net, too. I think that’s how you score goals. You have to get traffic in front and put pucks there. Then rebounds will come out and you will score more goals. That’s something we need to do.”

It didn’t help that the Stars had only 244 power play opportunities, the third lowest total in the league, and that they were shorthanded 303 times, the fourth most in the league. Despite having a respectable penalty kill that ranked 13th in the league, they still gave up 19 more power play goals than they scored.

“Certainly we think it’s an area we where we can get four or five more points by having a better power play,” said Gulutzan. “Along with discipline, we can get four or five more points and we’re not minus-60 as far as penalties for and against. But as far as personnel goes, I think we have the personnel here to have a good power play.”
FRISCO -- Dallas Stars coach Glen Gulutzan usually takes a break after the season, but not this year. He’s not used to missing the playoffs.

Gulutzan’s teams made it both seasons he coached in the AHL and five of six years when he was in the ECHL. So, after missing the postseason tournament in his first season as an NHL head coach, Gulutzan and his staff will stay busy preparing for next season.

“Usually I’ve taken a little bit of a break, but this year we won’t. We’ve got to dig in to a few things. We’re asking the players to be better in certain areas and us coaches have to be better. We have to be held to the same standard,” Gulutzan said. “Chances are we won’t work on Fridays, but Monday through Thursday and at nights watching other teams play – we’re going to go through video here until we are ready to go.”

The Stars coach said he probably won’t watch too much of the first round of the playoffs. The emotions are still raw after not getting into postseason play. But he’ll have plenty of video of his team to watch.

Gulutzan spent all day Wednesday holding exit interviews with his players. Talks he said were productive.

“From an interview standpoint they were good and enlightening. They probably ran a little bit longer than everybody wanted, but you’ve got to tidy up loose ends and look for anything that can move you forward,” he said. “I thought we had some good honest dialogue with lots of players and lots of positive stuff that came out of a finish that we really didn’t want. We got a lot of positive stuff and I think everybody is going to be better for it next year.”

Gulutzan is optimistic about things moving forward. He believes the team made strides this season, despite missing the playoffs. And with owner Tom Gaglardi now at the helm and GM Joe Nieuwendyk having more flexibility to add pieces, Gulutzan believes the Stars are ready to take another step forward next season.

“If you look at the young guys we brought up, our D, our goaltending , the way some guys had career years, like Jamie Benn and some of the players we brought in a year ago, if we can build off that a little bit,” Gulutzan said. “Every year you are trying to make your team a little bit better, we did so this year even though we maybe didn’t show it in the standings. We certainly did make some strides with the personnel we brought in. We’ve got to continue to develop from within and maybe bring a couple guys in and put ourselves to be position to be first in the division with one game to go.”
FRISCO -- The Dallas Stars cleaned out their lockers in Frisco Wednesday and there were mixed emotions. There was disappointment that the team was packing it up and shutting it down for the season just as the Stanley Cup playoffs were getting underway.

“It’s very disappointing. We were very close but not able to make it,” said goaltender Kari Lehtonen. “It hasn’t hit me yet and it probably won’t until other teams start playing tonight. That’s going to be hard to see, them going for the Cup and we’re just eating popcorn and watching.”

There was some optimism as well. The past couple of years the Stars have headed into the offseason under the cloud of uncertain ownership. But now, with Tom Gaglardi firmly in place as the team’s owner, things are looking up for next season and beyond.

“It’s going to be nice to have an owner here this summer. Our future is bright,” said forward Jamie Benn. “We have a lot of good young players. You saw that in the last game. I think we’re going up. We’re going to keep progressing here and see what we can do.”

This is the fourth straight season the Stars have missed the playoffs, three of them under current GM Joe Nieuwendyk. But for the first time since he has taken over, Nieuwendyk will not have his hands tied by a tight budget and will have the backing of a strong owner.

“This summer is different than many summers because since day one that Tom Gaglardi took over you could feel that a cloud moved away from our organization,” said Nieuwendyk. “He’s passionate about winning, he cares about our group and we sensed that from the day he took over. There was a different buzz about our team and that is exciting, not only for the last couple months but looking ahead to next season and this summer.

“It’s a different dynamic in play this summer, having that stability, having that backing, now I feel like we’re a player again.”

The Stars, who are in a good position as far as the salary cap and have an owner who is willing to spend some to money if the situation is right, are expected to be an active player in the free agent market when it opens July 1. They should be a more active player when it comes to trade talks as well.

“The good news is we have flexibility. You need cap room and flexibility to be successful, if you don’t have you can’t,” said Stars president Jim Lites. “The difference between this year and last year there now is a guy there that you can call and say we have an opportunity to sign this player to this contract and he can make a difference for us for ten years. That opportunity didn’t exist before. That’s in the unrestricted free agent market.

“And, almost as important now, I think, is our opportunity to participate in is what I call the ‘we want to make a change but we’ve got no flexibility market,’ which is how this franchise acquired Brad Richards. A contract was stifling a team that overspent on a player, and it helps you get better. I think we’re there now. I think that is the biggest difference.”

As far as a budget for spending, Nieuwendyk said that is still to be determined. And there is still the question of what kind of system the Stars and the other 29 teams will be operating under when the league and the NHLPA negotiate a new CBA. The current one expires September 15.

The salary cap is expected to go up from the current level of $64.3 million prior to free agency on July 1, but the new system could bring changes and the possibility of a lower cap. Nieuwendyk said the Stars will have to play things smart and be prepared.

“We don’t know what the landscape is going to look like September 15, but what I will say is that we are well positioned as any team moving forward,” Nieuwendyk said. “We can’t say what the cap will be or what some of the dynamics that will be in play, but we are open for business and will be able to talk to a lot of teams about trades, free agency when it comes to July, and ways of making our team better."

Stars to pick 13th in NHL Draft

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
7:58
PM CT
As expected, the Dallas Stars did not win Tuesday's NHL Draft Lottery and will have the 13th pick in the NHL Draft, which will be held June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.

The Stars had a 0.8 percent chance of winning Tuesday's lottery, which was won by the Edmonton Oilers for the third straight year. The Oilers will pick first overall.

Here's the draft order for the first 14 spots. The rest of the order will be released after the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

1.) Edmonton
2.) Columbus
3.) Montreal
4.) NY Islanders
5.) Toronto
6.) Anaheim
7.) Minnesota
8.) Carolina
9.) Winnipeg
10.) Tampa Bay
11.) Washington (via COL)
12.) Buffalo
13.) Dallas
14.) Calgary

Dallas Stars roster outlook/free agents

April, 9, 2012
4/09/12
11:06
PM CT
Here’s a look at the status of the Dallas Stars roster. The Stars have 13 regular players from this season’s roster under contract for next season at a cap hit of a little more than $40.5 million.

Next season’s cap, which is expected to be announced in late June, is expected to rise from this year’s $64.3 level, but then it could go down when a new CBA is implemented prior to next season. It’s anyone’s guess at this point.

Either way, the Stars, who have been spending close cap floor the past couple seasons while waiting for a new owner, now have that new owner in Tom Gaglardi. And Gaglardi is on the record as saying he is willing to spend some money to make the team better.

On the free agent side of things, the Stars have six restricted free agents and five unrestricted free agents.

Here’s a list of players under contract for next season and the free agents. It doesn’t include the forwards and defensemen who played fewer than 20 NHL games this season.

The Dallas Stars ranked 17th in the final edition of the ESPN NHL Power Rankings.

Pierre LeBrun put together this week's rankings and had these thoughts on the Stars:
Two seasons in a row, the Stars fall just short in the final week. Man, that hurts. A five-game losing streak to end the season? That hurts even more. Jamie Benn is a rock star, and Kari Lehtonen is for real, but GM Joe Nieuwendyk has seen enough evidence over the past two seasons that he needs to change the supporting cast. And he will.

Vancouver topped the final rankings, followed by Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers, St. Louis and Nashville. You can see the entire rankings here.

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