Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was a guest on NHL Live! Monday afternoon and he talked about several topics. Here are some highlights of his appearance.
On how the Stars are winning, considering they don’t stand out in any of the key statistical categories other than goals against
“I think our numbers are a little misleading. Our penalty kill at the beginning of the season was very poor, we weren’t keeping the puck out of the net. I think since then our numbers have been pretty good, so they can be a little misleading. I think we have enough scoring up front that we can get timely goals when we need them and obviously we are getting tremendous goaltending from both Kari Lehtonen and Andrew Raycroft. It’s just one of those things. I know when I played in New Jersey and we won the Cup in ’03 we had the 30th power play overall in the league, so I know the numbers are important but we are finding ways to win.”
On the acquisition of Jamie Langenbrunner and the message it sends to the team
“I think that’s the most important thing. It’s a message to our fans, a message to our players that we believe in our team and we believe in what we’ve accomplished this year. This is putting a player into our locker room that has experience. Obviously he’s been through a lot of battles, won a couple Stanley Cups. I know firsthand from being a teammate of his and a roommate of his the kind of qualities he brings to our locker room. It’s been really positive in the first three days that he has been with us.”
When asked if the Langenbrunner acquisition is a message to fans that despite the ownership issue that the Stars won’t be trading players and will be trying to win now, and if that has sent a positive vive around Dallas
“I think so. We made the case for why Jamie Langenbrunner makes sense for our team right now at this particular moment and obviously we had to go through a few hoops to make it happen. I think the fans in our market, especially, have been pleasantly surprised at how well our team has done. I think the players are believing in what we are doing and are gaining confidence. To add a guy of Jamie Langenbrunner’s stature and everything he has been through enhances that even more right now. It’s a positive. It’s been really positive.”
When asked if Marc Crawford is a better coach this year, or if it is a matter of his message getting through more or is there something else he is doing that is making a difference
I think Marc is a better coach this year. I think that’s a fair comment. I think there’s a learning period for everybody, not just players but for coaches too when they come to a new situation. We went through a lot last year, there’s no doubt about it. We had to make some tough decisions on key veteran players that had been here for a long time in [Mike] Modano and [Marty] Turco and the departure and retirement of Jere Lehtinen. Those were some key figures that were staples in this organization. It made it tough for the players, it made it tough for the coaches to kind of go through that. I think that at the end of the tunnel we have some young guys now able to step forth in the locker room and new leaders to take form. That’s the way your team evolves. I really believe that it’s a youth movement and we’ve asked our young players to play big roles on our team.”
On what associate coach Willie Desjardins has meant to the team
“He’s been terrific. We always want to talk about the players that we brought in, but Willie coming in has really been solid for our group. I think that rubs off on Crow the most, where you see the improvement in our coaching staff the most that way. Willie is a detail guy, Willie is a passionate guy and he is a hardworking guy who just loves hockey. I think in the beginning the players didn’t know much about him or know how to take him, but he has a real good rapport with the players. I think Willie is the type of hockey guy that comes in and makes people around him better and we’ve seen that here in Dallas.
When asked about the latest on trying to sign Brad Richards to an extension
“He’s a good pro and real good player for us obviously. There have been steps along the way here, getting Trevor Daley signed and trying to keep a core group of players in place for many years to come here in Dallas. We feel that way about Brad, too. Brad is a guy that we think is going to be one of those core guys. Naturally, all the attention and focus switches to Brad now. Like I said from day one, we’re going to try to what we can to get him signed up and those things have slowly been taking place.”
When asked if there is anybody on the roster that you believe you’re getting more out of than you thought, or anybody really surprising you
“In some ways the guy that really jumps out at me is Jeff Woywitka. Here’s a guy who we just had as a depth guy and your No. 7 defenseman, who has stepped up and for whatever reason – sometimes these things just happen – has terrific chemistry with Trevor Daley. Those guys enjoy playing with each other and they play very well together. He’s been solid for us for a couple months now. He’s really solidified himself in that lineup and made for a lot of competition for other spots on our D crew, which in my mind is a good thing. Having him come in and play the way that he has for us has been a big part of our success.”