[Redacted]: A Trade and Free Agency Intervention
[Ed. note: Hey, everybody! Remember us? Conference III. We're the guys who make historical analogies about hockey and then disappear in the middle of the playoffs. We didn't go anywhere. We're back. With free agency beginning in a few hours, our very own Obscene Alex is here to set us up.]
Dear Top Free Agent and Trade Candidate Class of 2014,
You may have heard the Dallas Stars are looking for a second line center and maybe a wing. You may have even heard we are in search of a number one defenseman… or that we’re not. We seem to be playing coy about that, but if the right opportunity presented itself…Anyway, you might be aware that Dallas used to be a premiere free agent destination. Players like Ed Belfour, Brett Hull, and Bill Guerin chose to sign with the Stars in their heyday. Dallas was also able to retain a strong veteran core of players they developed or traded for with ease, driving continued success in the years leading up to and following their Stanley Cup in 1999.
You might also know that more recently, a lack of homegrown talent due to relying too heavily on buying talent through trades and free agency, a marketplace reshaped by lockouts and a salary cap, and a bankrupt owner led the team into dark times. The past five seasons of playoff-less hockey left fans wistfully remembering 1999, 2000, 2008 and eventually, even years where the Stars were one and done.
However, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve noticed the changes – a new owner, new GM, new coach, new system, new uniforms, and a shiny new Tyler Seguin – that propelled Dallas back into a playoff spot. A new focus on the value of the draft to ensure that success is built upon has led to a top 10 prospect pipeline and a Calder Cup. A brand spankin’ new Val Nichushkin and a Jamie Benn newly invigorated by a return to the wing alongside Seguin will look to push the team over the top from bubble team to contender in the coming seasons. That word you keep hearing is the key – NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW NEW. Things are changing in Dallas. The Stars are on an upward trajectory.
What was old is new again, even if the path to get there will be a bit different this time around. Over the course of its tenure, GM Jim Nill’s mustache has indicated that, unlike Doug Armstrong’s bald noggin’s approach, the Stars will continue to build the team through the draft. However, we also know the mustache will make key trades and free agent acquisitions with an eye a whisker on both the present and the future. And that’s where you come in.
What this new Stars organization hasn’t seen yet – but should begin seeing this summer – is consideration from top free agents and top trade candidates with movement clauses like yourself.
— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) June 30, 2014
And that’s the sticking point. Just the briefest hint that any of you wouldn’t consider Dallas a top destination is [not cool, dude]. It doesn’t matter if we don’t want you here. Every single one of you should be calling us, going door to door in Dallas neighborhoods campaigning, hiring sky writers to write Paul Stastny Loves Texas above American Airlines Center, sending Jim Nill’s mustache the finest of grooming supplies… if you think you should be laying on the beach having a beer this summer waiting for the phone to ring, you’re wrong – you’d better step it up and start professing your interest – nay, shouting your lifelong dream of being a Dallas Star from the rooftops.
You might be thinking that there are 28 other teams to consider and Dallas isn’t that great – you want to go to a contender… and you’d be completely, emphatically wrong. Get those naïve thoughts out of your head, my friend. Who are you trying to be, Jarome Iginla? “Oh, I don’t want to go to Boston. Trade me to Pittsburgh where I’ll get swept in the Conference Finals by Boston! Oops, I’d better sign with Boston so I can lose in the Conference Semi-Finals to Montreal!” [Canadian].
Here, let me help you. First of all, we can weed out teams that [have disappointed recently] because you at least want a chance at winning something and the only way to get there is to have a chance of making the playoffs, right? Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Florida, Carolina, Toronto, Ottawa, Buffalo, New Jersey, Washington, and the Islanders – all gone. Kaput.
And about that chance of winning the Cup… You want to have that chance, right? At least at some point? Yes, of course you do. Cross San Jose off your list in permanent marker.
Hmm… how about some other options… Are you a Francophone or do you speak French? No? [French cussing]. You’d be the new media scapegoat in Montreal, so they’re out. In Dallas, we welcome everyone – our own Antoine Roussel is an actual Frenchman, too – not an imitation. However, Frenchman, Quebecer, Russian, European, American, drafted, or undrafted… Don Cherry be damned, it’s the quality of the player that counts here, not his place of birth or hockey pedigree.
Do you know what a block heater is? If so, do you want to live somewhere where you need one? [Oh golly no], you say? We’ve already eliminated the rest of the Canadian teams and now we can cross Winnipeg off the list, too. You could live with one? OK, but did you know Pavelec is still their goaltender? [Oh golly no], indeed.
How much does being recognized in public everywhere you go matter to you? In Philly, sure, they might recognize you walking down the street but at best you’ll be booed and at worst, people will seem friendly until they try to mug you. In Texas, you may not be recognized by the general public, but we wave, smile at, and say hi or even howdy to strangers and we genuinely mean it.
How about a recent Stanley Cup champion? OK. That’s an angle you should consider, but think hard about how difficult it is to repeat in this day and age of NHL parity. We’ve already established you don’t want to be Jarome Iginla – unless, of course, you are Jarome Iginla, in which case I feel genuinely bad for you but you’ve got to stop doing that to yourself. Seek help, man. It’s a risk you’re willing to take, you say? OK, let’s consider your options.
On the one hand, you have the LA Kings. Great team. Great team that [fitters] around all season and squeaks into the playoffs where they actually start to try when someone nearly eliminates them. Do you want to risk not even making the playoffs because there was so much [fittering] around combined with a Stanley Cup hangover? That won’t happen, you say? Fine. How about having Dustin Brown as your teammate? Yeah, I know. Scratch that one off the list.
On the other hand, you have the Chicago Blackhawks. If they have enough money to sign you after re-upping Toews and Kane and Joel Quenneville stops scratching his [not nearly as awesome as Jim Nill's mustache] long enough to coach his team past the Western Conference Finals again, this seems like a good option for you, but will you be bringing your family to your new city? Yes? Have you had a gander at those Chicago, and for that matter, Detroit and St. Louis violent crime statistics? Yeah, I agree. Nope to all of those.
If you want to go back to 2011 in this discussion of recent champions, you also have Boston to consider. However, we’ve already established you don’t want to be Jarome Iginla and if you like to have a good time, it’s only a matter of time before the pictures and videos will surface of you enjoying adult beverages with a bunch of other people, who for some reason aren’t judged the same way, also enjoying said beverages and also having a good time. The gossip and rumors will fly as the Boston media suddenly forgets they don’t work for supermarket tabloids. They’ll take that short slump you had that one time, tie it all up together in a nice pretty bow and run you out of town. You’ll waste at least a season or two if you go there, and nobody plays forever. Your time is precious. Don’t bother with Boston.
What about an also-ran like the New York Rangers? Well, sure, if you like being a part of a Frankenstein franchise assembled by Glen Sather randomly throwing money at players that only made it to the Finals because Ben Bishop and Carey Price both got injured. Yes, yes, I know the Rangers didn’t play the Lightning this year. What I’m saying is that a healthy goalie on either team would’ve eventually put the Rangers out of the running whether Montreal or Tampa won their first round matchup against each other. It wouldn’t matter who it ended up being.
Pittsburgh also sort of fits into that category, but I think we’ve seen enough to tell that you can’t just stack up parts around Sid and Geno, stick anyone with a pulse in depth positions, and cross your fingers. Also, did you see highly touted coaching interviewee Willie Desjardins pick Vancouver over Pittsburgh? Something is rotten in that Penguins franchise. Pass.
So what about an up and coming team? Dallas is an up and coming team. Yeah, I know, we’re not talking about Dallas right now. Yet. OK, fine. How about Anaheim? Hmm… nice weather, beaches… but holy [Grover Norqusit] get a look at that [preposterously high] state income tax rate. No wonder everyone and their dog wants to get the [heck] out of California. Did I mention Texas has no state income tax? And I can’t neglect to mention that [hygiene product] Corey Perry. You want him as a teammate? And oh God where is that glare coming from? Is that… Is it? It is! Ryan Getzlaf’s head! Why is it so bright?! Sure, everyone wears a helmet on the ice, but how on earth will you see to get dressed in the locker room before games? And we haven’t even discussed this team’s embarrassing Disney heritage yet… Yes, it actually keeps getting worse the longer we talk about Anaheim. Pass. Not only pass, run away screaming.
Hmm… up and coming teams. Up and coming teams. What about Colorado? Hahaha, I know. Just kidding. I thought I had you there, but you pay attention to advanced stats.
Columbus? On the one hand, you might be the next Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik, Derick Brassard, or Derek Dorsett (I think I’m forgetting some… there are SO MANY!) and play there to get traded to a real contender. On the other hand, you should probably just shortcut that and not waste your time.
Minnesota? You’re telling me you’d rather play for a knock off team, a franchise so lacking in creativity that it couldn’t even pick a plural name, than the original? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Is Nashville an up and coming team – a team that should make the playoffs? Some say yes. J.R.’s bow tie will yell at me, but I say no. I think they’re firmly just below bubble territory heading into next season. Trending up, but they’re behind Dallas in terms of putting the pieces together to revitalize their franchise. This year? No go.
[Arizona]? Nobody realistically considers [Arizona]. It’s like waiting in an impossibly long line to play that arcade claw game but when you get to the front of the line, there’s only one prize left and it’s a purple teddy bear with mystery stains and a missing eye but your girlfriend is a vapid, materialistic [lady] who insists you waste quarters trying to grab a [less-than-ideal] prize because she’ll die if she doesn’t have some proof that she’s worth wasting money on and you do it because you’re an idiot or you have no other options. If you want to play for a team that never quite figures it out while wondering where you’ll be calling home every year for the rest of your contract, you do it because nobody else wants you and you suck it up, get paid, and go to Phoenix.
Listen, whether it’s by process of elimination or your recognition that Dallas is the place you should be next season, get your act together. Time is running out. Don’t be that guy left holding a suitcase, scratching his head, and wondering if Phoenix is his only option… and if you’re one of the lucky ones, welcome to Dallas. Everyone looks good in Victory Green.