Dallas Stars’ lenders might appoint temporary president while team sale hangs in limbo

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Forgive my oversimplification/generalization, but you can break down the Dallas Stars team sale situation by two basic schools of thought.

On one side, you have the crowd who are mostly negative about the situation. They point to the difficult situations faced by the now-sold Tampa Bay Lightning and the suspended-in-muck Phoenix Coyotes and wonder if the lenders who bailed Tom Hicks out will ever find a satisfying price.

On the other side, there is a local example that might hearten some Stars devotees. The team must only look to Arlington, at their former Hicks-ownership-related cousins, the Texas Rangers. That team was once mired in a situation that seemed far more grim; they hadn’t made the playoffs since the days of Juan Gonzalez and things weren’t looking up this summer. What happened since then? The Rangers took Major League Baseball my storm, encouraged a bidding war between groups headed by Mark Cuban and Nolan Ryan and made it to the World Series after beating the Yankees, for goodness sakes.

Whichever viewpoint you hold, this news could be big in the short term: the group of lenders may need to appoint an interim president to help run the team … and hopefully increase interest in the not-too-shabby Stars. Here’s more from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

The group of lenders who are serving as the owners of the Stars are seriously considering naming an interim president to help guide the team, according to a source close to the sale of the team, and a decision could be made by the end of the week.

The move could be seen as a sign that the lenders are content to run the team for the remainder of the 2010-11 season, but the source said it’s more a matter of doing what’s best for the Stars in the event a sale does not happen.


Several people close to the sale say that open dialogue continues every day but that neither side is close to finding a price that makes everyone happy.

That means the lenders could continue to run the team for the remainder of the season in hopes that either a strong run in the playoffs or a change in the economic environment could entice buyers to raise their bids. The Stars have been running on the monies collected in the summer through ticket sales, advertising and television revenue, but those monies could run out in December. The Stars have talked to the NHL about getting an advance on future money that is normally collected by teams after the season, but the lenders could have to be prepared to start covering potential losses as soon as December.

The best bit of information – for Stars fans and fans of competitive hockey in general – is that it doesn’t sound like the team will run a talent liquidation (if they remain competitive, at least). The article seems to stress that the lenders are hopeful that adding a president will help them maintain or possibly improve the on-ice product as that will spur profits and increase the perceived value of the franchise.

In other words, the Stars might not have to pull what would be the equivalent of the anti-Cliff Lee trade by shipping Brad Richards and his large (but now justified), expiring contract to another team.

At least, they won’t do that if they really want to win. Stay tuned, though, because the surprising Stars might just be (an admittedly economically healthier) 2010-11 version of the 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes. We’ll keep you posted.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen