Ken Hitchcock once again becoming head coach of the Dallas Stars might not be the least likely “comeback” associated with the team during this turbulent off-season.
Not if R.J. Umberger can rejuvenate his career.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that the Stars are handing Umberger, 35, a PTO. That’s quite the offer considering the fact that Umberger didn’t play at all in 2016-17.
Instead, Umberger dipped his toes in the coaching pool, as Portzline discusses.
Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News confirmed Portzline’s report:
Hitchcock is likely keen on giving Umberger a chance since he saw his best days as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Umberger rattled off four consecutive 20+ goal seasons and almost reached that total in his final Columbus campaign, managing 18 in 2013-14. After being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, Umberger struggled, ultimately getting bought out a bit more than a year ago.
It’s likely that he’ll face a tough climb to land a spot on a crowded Stars roster, although Hitchcock may place extra value on his experience.
If Umberger could defy the odds and make the cut, it would continue a move toward bigger bodies in Dallas. They already beefed up in adding rugged defenseman Marc Methot, hulking center Martin Hanzal, and puck-protecting-phenom Alex Radulov to the mix.