Now that Mike Modano is gone, who will be the face of the Dallas Stars?

Thumbnail image for Modano7.jpgWith Mike Modano and Marty Turco gone, the Dallas Stars decided to market the team (actually the TEAM) rather than an individual player.

Still, Defending Big D tried to guesstimate who might be the new “face” of the franchise. Ultimately, they couldn’t come up with an obvious choice. Let’s look at some of the highlights.

Brenden Morrow?

My man crush on Brenden aside, I don’t think he’s the answer. The captain was perfectly positioned to make a run at the top of the public consciousness after his stellar playoff performance of 2008, but a torn ACL and a mediocre return have limited his effectiveness on and off the ice the last two seasons…

I agree completely about Morrow. If his health was ideal, he would be a solid bet, but at this point can you really trust his knee to hold up for a full season? Even if he plays, it’s hard to imagine him matching that breakthrough season he experienced riding shotgun with the hard-to-love Mike Ribiero.

Moving on, Brad Gardner pointed out the first name that popped into my head: Brad Richards. Despite his solid point producing totals, Gardner hits the nail on the head about why Richards won’t be the face of the franchise.

We love Brad Richards. He makes this team immeasurably better when he’s on the ice. I hope the new owner signs him up for the rest of his career. I might consider giving any offspring he may have an entry-level deal. That being said, he has all the personality of a wet mop. His interviews are boring. He’s a nice guy, but his demeanor just doesn’t pop, and his on ice performance, while efficient and productive, lacks the pizazz and flamboyance of Mike Modano’s jersey flapping behind him, or Marty Turco rolling around on the ice making saves.

To a hockey fan, he’s a genius. To your buddy “Joe Bob” at work, he’s nobody.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for jamesneal.jpgHere’s the wrap-up on the remaining choices. I’ll share my thoughts after the last excerpt.

The Other Guys.

James Neal. Jamie Benn. Loui Eriksson. Should they get consideration? Loui is as quiet and workman like as Jere and Brad are. The other two are burgeoning, but off the radar in the larger public consciousness. Again, to hockey fans they’re worth watching and you want them on your fantasy team, but to everyone else they’re guys who weren’t here in 1999. That’s unfair, but a lot of people see it that way.

What about Steve Ott? Face of the franchise? No. A larger player in the marketing game going forward? I wouldn’t be surprised, and I support it. Otter is everything people who don’t know hockey love about hockey, and he threw in 20+ goals to go with it last year. No one gets the AAC on their feet like Steve Ott. He definitely gets an honorable mention here with a nod toward the future.

After reading this article, it’s obvious that the team’s marketing-by-committee approach is the right way to go, but I’d keep an eye on James Neal. Here are three reasons why he could emerge as a solid, though by no means Modano-level, marketing chip.

  1. His nickname (“The Real Deal”) is awesome.
  2. He can score goals/points with aplomb.
  3. Neal also hurts people.

(Female fans could confirm or deny his attractiveness. I’m afraid that is outside of my area of expertise.)

So, overall, the Stars lack a matinee idol after having Modano for the entirety of their stay in the Lone Star State. Really, the team should count its blessings and understand that a box office lottery ticket cannot fall into your lap every time. As the DBD bunch point out, winning is the ultimate marketing tool, though.

Unfortunately, they might be closer to finding a face of the franchise than they are into reshaping into a winner in a tough Western Conference and Pacific Division.

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    The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

    Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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    It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

    But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

    “There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

    Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

    Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

    Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

    In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

    Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


    After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

    Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

    Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

    Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

    While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

    Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

    McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

    Todd McLellan

    Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

    Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

    In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

    Some of the more choice quotes:

    “I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

    “When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

    It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

    Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

    They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

    Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

    “We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

    Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


    The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

    After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


    You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

    “It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

    “We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

    There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

    His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

    Not good.

    Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

    Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.