III Communication

Covering The NHL's Conference III Better Than Anyone On The Whole Internet. Like Ma Bell, We Got The III Communication

Category: The [Redacted] Week In Review

[Redacted]: A Trade and Free Agency Intervention

by obscenealex

[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…

Goal, [friends].

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.

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[Redacted]: Stars’ Playoff Drought Finally Over

by obscenealex

Five seasons.  That’s how long the Stars left fans in the lurch between playoff appearances.  Only Trevor Daley remains from that 2007-08 team that brought Dallas to the Western Conference Finals, upsetting the Mighty [Naughty Times] of Anaheim and San Jose [Accidents] before losing 4-2 to the Dead Things.  The turnover was severe as the Stars retooled and rebuilt and looking back at it, even though I watched it all happen, it is truly amazing how many changes this team has seen.

The deep pockets of Tom Hicks brought Dallas a Stanley Cup in 1999, but a series of poor financial decisions outside of the team dragged the Stars down with him.  The Stars subsisted on boiled shoe leather from 2009 through the beginning of the 2011-12 season and at least part of that time had creditors and the NHL managing the team’s finances.

Les Jackson's face says it all.

Les Jackson’s face says it all.

Doug “I’ll give you a 1st for Ladislav Nagy” Armstrong was canned at the beginning of 2007-08 when the team got off to a bad start.  From there, the two-headed monster of Les Jackson and Brett Hull reigned for a little over a season, most notably adding Brad Richards and totally useless [crap cranium] Sean Avery on Hull’s decision.

After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2002, Joe Nieuwendyk was brought in as GM and did many things right.  He restocked the Stars’ bare prospect cupboard, making it one of the best in the NHL in a very short timeframe.  He iced a decent team on a shoestring budget.  To the frustration of some fans, he even fired Dave Tippett as he attempted to aim the team towards a fast, puck possession style of play and kept Brad Richards, who also had a no trade clause, for a failed playoff push when it was clear Richards wouldn’t re-sign in the offseason due to frustrations over the team’s financial situation.  However, his inabilities to find adequate coaching, align team management in Dallas, and fully develop the Stars’ on-ice identity as well as Jim Nill being seen as a better option by new owner Tom Gaglardi were his real undoing.

As the first coaching hire after Tippett, Marc Crawford relied heavily on two lines and completely lost the room at the end.  Glen Gulutzan was brought up from the Texas Stars as a replacement.  Despite his ability to mentor young players, Gulutzan was too green to be an NHL head coach and something went completely [tuckus] over teakettle between Nieuwendyk and Gulutzan when Reilly Smith burned through the first year of his entry level contract at the end of 2011-12, getting scratched and barely seeing any ice time when he played.

No facet of the organization was immune to change.  Even my ticket sales rep left during the lockout.  More importantly, though, from the 2007-08 season to now, the player turnover has been astounding:

 

Left as a UFA: Brad Richards (Glen Sather’s band of merry misfits), Sheldon Souray (Mighty [Naked Funs]), and Adam Burish ([Poopy Pants]).

(3 NHL-caliber players)

What did we do to the hockey gods to deserve this shit?

What did we do to the hockey gods to deserve this [gentleman]?

Was not resigned: Mike Modano (Dead Things), Sergei Zubov (KHL), Marty Turco (Butthawks), Karlis Skrastins (KHL, RIP), Darryl Sydor (Boos), Niklas Hagman (LOLeafs), Antti Miettinen (Tame), Mark Parrish (AHL/Lightning), Brendan Morrison (Crapitals), Jamie Langenbrunner (Boos), Eric Nystrom (Perds), Radek Dvorak (Mighty [Babymaking Activities]), Mark Fistric (Oilers), Steve Begin (Boston), Jeff Woywitka (Les Habitrails/Rangers), Brad Winchester (Boos), Tom Wandell (KHL), Joel Lundqvist (SEL), Johan Holmqvist (SEL), Tobias Stephan (Swiss-A), Perttu Lindgren (SM-Liiga), Andrew Raycroft (Italian Serie A), Richard Bachman (AHL/Oilers), Andrew Hutchinson (AHL/Penguins), Chris Conner (AHL/Penguins), Jason Williams (AHL/Penguins), Garrett Stafford (AHL/Phoenix), Matt Climie (AHL/Phoenix), Warren Peters (AHL/Wild), Aaron Gagnon (AHL/Jets), Brian Sutherby (AHL), Ray Sawada (AHL) and Brandon Segal (AHL).

(About 14 NHL-caliber players, although some of them barely so, 8 European league/KHL players, and 11 AHLers)

Retired: Jere Lehtinen, Stu Barnes, Mattias Norstrum, Brad Lukowich, Landon Wilson, and Brent Krahn.

(3 NHL-caliber players and 3 AHLers)

God dammit.

God [bless him].

Traded: Brenden Morrow (Penguins); Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser (Boston); Mike Ribeiro (Crapitals); James Neal and Matt Niskanen (Penguins); Steve Ott and Adam Pardy (Sabres); Michael Ryder (Les Habitrails); Jaromir Jagr (Boston); Stephane Robidas (Mighty [Making Flowers]); Derek Roy (Cantnucks); Mike Smith, Jussi Jokinen, and Jeff Halpern (Lightning); Nicklas Grossman(n) (Flyers); Philippe Boucher (Penguins); Krys Barch (Florida); Philip Larsen (Oilers); Fabian Brunnstrom (LOLeafs); Tomas Vincour ([Rear]alanche); Dan Ellis (is now Florida’s problem); Junior Lessard (AHL/Lightning); Jake Dowell (AHL/Wild); Lane MacDermid (AHL/Calgary/retired); Doug Janik (AHL/Les Habitrails); Francis Wathier (AHL); Dan Jancevski (AHL); and Ivan Vishnevskiy (AHL).

(20 NHL-caliber players and 10 who are not)

Claimed off waivers: B.J. Crombeen (Boos), Todd Fedoruk (Tame)

(2 NHL-caliber players)

Bought out: Totally Useless [Fecal Forehead] Sean Avery

(1 waste of life I wouldn’t even [extinguish with urine] on if he was on fire)

New: The entire team minus Trevor Daley

 

Master troll Kari Lehtonen

Master troll Kari Lehtonen

Now granted, 32 of the players above were players who briefly saw NHL action before falling back down into the AHL, Europe, or the KHL, but this is still a hell of a lot of turnover.  42 NHL players.  Enough to ice two NHL teams with two healthy scratches for good measure.  Is that number a sign?  Also, here’s a hilarious bit of trivia – Ivan Vishnevskiy, once heralded in Dallas as the second coming of Sergei Zubov, was the main piece headed to the Atlanta Thrashers to bring Kari Lehtonen to Dallas.  Later that season, the Thrashers realized they made a horrible mistake and flipped him to the Butthawks for Andrew Ladd.  Oops.

#IAmValNichushkin

#IAmValNichushkin

In the end, though, all that misery was worth it.  The Stars have new owner Tom Gaglardi and with him came a new, savvy GM in Jim Nill.  Nill recognized what many fans didn’t and hired Lindy Ruff, who has turned out to be a great coach instead of the past-his-prime dinosaur fans feared.  Nill also took a smart gamble, did his due diligence and drafted Valeri Nichushkin, a player Joe Nieuwendyk wouldn’t have touched with a ten foot pole. Nill recognized a prospect pool full of good players, but no blue chip skaters, and risked a late first round pick on Jason Dickinson, a player that showed strong upside if he could fit all the pieces together.  He snagged a goaltender, Philippe Desrosiers, that is tearing up the QMJHL.  Most importantly for the present, he traded Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, and Matt Fraser for Tyler Seguin and Raptor Jesus a few days after the draft. He also added other complimentary pieces to fill out a roster mixed with youth and veteran leaders on short term deals to guide them.

Gaglardi rebranded the Stars off the ice by bringing Jim Lites and Mike Modano back into the fold and introducing new uniforms.  Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff have rebranded them on the ice into the fast, puck possession team Joe Nieuwendyk was aiming for but never quite reached.  Jamie Benn has grown into his role as captain and with a monster season, has led by example.

This season has seen ups and downs.  Winning streaks and losing streaks.  Times when fans have literally cried for joy and times when they’ve wanted to reach into their televisions and strangle the [snot] out of certain players.  Stepping back though, Stars fans know this team is just beginning to come together.  More pieces will be added and subtracted before they’re a true contender.

Paul Bissonnette is looking for his ball.

Paul Bissonnette is looking for his ball.

Back in September, most experts picked Dallas to finish outside the playoffs for a sixth season in a row.  Many fans, including myself, expected the same – a rebuilding year.  Instead, the Phoenix Coyotes now find themselves playing golf after the Stars triumphantly stomped all over the Blues this past Friday.  Hockey fans everywhere should thank Dallas for ensuring nobody had to watch the Coyotes stumble and trap their way through the first round.

Mickey heard the Stars were coming to town.

Mickey heard the Stars were coming to town.

Now, the Stars ironically find themselves facing Stephane Robidas, who was traded to a contender at his request at the deadline, and that Mickey Mouse organization in Anaheim.  After all the seasons of selfless effort where Robidas was one of the heart and soul players on the Stars – the countless times he broke his nose, all the times he got crushed by a hit and popped right back up, and the one time he couldn’t get back up this season – I truly wish him the best, but not at the Stars’ expense.  No, I want to see Dallas crush the hopes of Anaheim and the aspirations of the second California team they face in the next round again, just like in 2008 and as one final round of retribution for lumping the Stars in with a bunch of west coast teams for so many years… but if they don’t, I’m still happy because everything the Stars do from here is just icing.  You see, the Stars have exceeded everyone’s expectations.  They have nothing to lose and that’s what makes them dangerous.

Pass those boys some shells – it’s duck season.  Stars in 7.

[Redacted]: At My Wits’ and Season’s End

by obscenealex

Welcome to the last [Redacted] of the 2013-14 regular season.  When I first started this [sludge stack] I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew I could write but I’d never written about hockey and I wasn’t sure if I could keep it going week after week.  I’ve had a great time in the short half season I’ve shared my obscene, outlandish and/or ridiculous thoughts with you and I’ve met some cool people.  Thank you for embracing me and enjoying [Redacted].  You [beloved people] are all right.

This week, I’m going to open with some housekeeping and then get down to business.

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[Redacted]: Crown of Fecal Matter Update

by obscenealex

Richard Peverley eating cereal out of the Stanley Cup

If players eat cereal out of Lord Stanley, what do they eat out of the Fecal Fedora?

It’s almost the end of the season… that time of year when the Crown of [Fecal Matter] stops traveling, settles down, and gets comfortable on the heads of players, occasionally being removed so they can eat Cheerios out of it, bathe their kids in it, and maybe even throw it off balconies and give it lap dances.  Will players from your team spend the summer getting frisky with the Fecal Fedora?  Let’s review where the Sombrero de Mierda has been and where it may end up.  As always, new wearers are bolded.  Teams shamefully retaining the Crown are italicized.

 

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[Redacted]: Looking Forward

by obscenealex

Greetings, [confrères], and welcome to another week of [Redacted].  I’m going to pretend most of this past week never happened. Start over.  Press the reset button.  Rage quit.  Maybe even black out to forget.  Instead of revisiting the past week, we’re going to spend this week looking ahead.  The future hasn’t happened yet (something Boring Sean Monahan may have already said at some point) and therefore offers me the hope missing from the past week.  Let’s get this over with…

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[Redacted] Week in Review: Stop the [Bovine Excreta]

by obscenealex

I’m not in a welcoming mood this week.  Get off my [well-manicured] lawn.

Oh, I have to write a column for you to read?  Well [gird yourself] then, you spoiled [solipsist].  Here it is:

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The [Redacted] Week in Review: Goalie Edition

by obscenealex

Welcome to the [Redacted] Week in Review, [darling readers].  I’m your host, Obscene Alex.  Let’s get down to business.  This week, with a couple of exceptions, our topic is going to be goaltending.

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[Redacted] Trade Deadline Special Edition

by obscenealex

Greetings, [fellow travelers], and welcome to a special trade deadline edition of [Redacted].  Without further ado, let’s have a look at what each Conference III team did over the past few days.

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The [Redacted] Week in Review: It’s Otter Time

by obscenealex

Welcome to the [Redacted] Week in Review – I’m your HMFIC, Obscene Alex.  The NHL is back this week with one outdoor game, one indoor-outdoor game (it’s house-trained), and a big trade – and not a moment too soon because the withdrawal was making my hands shake.  Here’s what happened this past week:

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The [Redacted] Week in Review with Obscene Alex: Is This [Excreta] Over Yet?

by obscenealex

If you’re like me, you’re [thrilled beyond compare] that the Olympics are over and we can get back to our regularly scheduled program of hating each other over geographically closer teams.

In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the past couple of weeks:

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