From the sound of the Dallas Stars’ latest update, Tyler Seguin may limp into the 2020-21 NHL season.
Stars update: Tyler Seguin’s hip surgery delayed
Stars GM Jim Nill noted that Seguin’s hip surgery has been delayed. Considering the four-month estimate for a return, it’s possible Seguin’s recovery window could move to February, or later.
“We anticipate he’s having it next week,” Nill said, via NHL.com’s Tracey Myers. “Because of the (coronavirus) pandemic, where he’s having the surgery, there are certain restrictions, so we’ve had to work around some of those things. Some surgeries have been canceled, so he hasn’t had it yet. We’ll have another call here, I hope, next week, and I can update everyone on things moving forward.”
Theoretically, a possibly longer offseason could encourage players to undergo surgery rather than trying to play through issues. Gutting it out would be even more ill-advised if the 2020-21 NHL schedule ends up compressed, as expected.
But the reality of life amid COVID-19 is that surgery schedules can get disrupted. Among other things, moments like these remind us that there are bigger things than getting Seguin up to full-strength ASAP.
Even in the framework of the Stars’ next season, there are opportunities amid the bad news.
Making the most of bad news
So, yes, it’s definitely bad news that the Stars may begin 2020-21 with Seguin on the shelf.
While Myers notes that Nill expects other banged-up Stars such as Ben Bishop, Jamie Benn, and Anton Khudobin to be ready, estimates are ultimately just educated guesses. Players can have setbacks, especially older ones who’ve had nagging issues, such as Bishop.
Maybe this is an opportunity for no-longer-interim head coach Rick Bowness to accelerate the Stars’ transition from old to new?
Taking the Hintz
Back in October Bowness said all the right things to The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro (sub required) about giving rising young forwards Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz more opportunities.
“They are coming into the team next year knowing they are a big part of it,” Bowness said of Gurianov and Hintz. “They are go-to guys now …”
Let’s hope Bowness backs up those words by actually unleashing Gurianov and Hintz.
On one hand, Hintz saw a minor bump in regular season ice time after his 2018-19 rookie campaign. Those hoping for a continuation of his 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs breakthrough would have been irritated, though. Hintz went from a 16:06 TOI average during that run to just 13:44 per night as the Stars made the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
Look, it was nice to see Corey Perry redeem himself during the postseason after a rough campaign. It’s not quite as nice when you realize that he received as much ice time as a far more productive Gurianov, and slightly less than Hintz.
With Perry out and veterans like Seguin either on the shelf or maybe working back to 100 percent, Bowness and the Stars may not have much of a choice but to give Hintz and Gurianov more opportunities. So, in a roundabout way, this Seguin news could end up being a blessing in disguise.
Giving it a rest
Even if Seguin and others are healthy — plausible if February is the modified starting month — the Stars might want to ponder the benefits of rest.
Consider, for one, how banged up Seguin was. And, with Jamie Benn getting older, his rugged style will only get tougher to maintain over a typical 82-game pace.
If you listen to the accounts of Carey Price‘s playoff performance, you’ll notice people mentioning the difference rest made. Perhaps that’s a lesson the Stars can take to heart?
Naturally, you can only really entertain the notion of rotating some key players in and out of the lineup if you can afford to. In an NHL where parity is rampant, the Stars might not be able to afford to sit Benn and/or Seguin.
However, if the Stars find themselves with some breathing room, they should really think about trying to save Seguin’s best days for the playoffs. In doing so, they’d likely give some of those premium shifts to Hintz and Gurianov, potentially improving their outlook in the present and the future.
Pulling all or some of that off takes a mixture of skill and luck, making it an inexact science. The Stars could kick themselves if they don’t even bother with such experiments, though.