Okay so maybe this is a little pre-mature but let’s add everything up. The Stars are suffering at the gates and have been for a few seasons now. The 6,000 last Monday night vs the Coyotes and the 7,000 vs the Blues were anomalies mostly due to the Texas Rangers current playoff run, but it still leads to the conclusion that interest in the team is dwindling. I know for a fact there are plenty of die-hards that continue to support the team and kudos to you, but the numbers are just not what they use to be and something has to change.
The Stars are kind of at a fork in the road where a new owner is nearly in place and a direction will need to be taken to get this franchise back at or near the top where it has been for a good part of it’s years in Dallas. The Stars haven’t made a real splash in either the free agent market or via trade since trading for Brad Richards at the deadline in 2008 and before that you would have to go back to the Bill Guerin signing in 2002. You could almost count the Kari Lehtonen deal a couple years back and the way it’s looking it was a great one, but I don’t know if it would be considered a major splash. Either way I say it’s not only time to do something major, but it’s almost necessary and taking everything in to account, the perfect storm could be brewing.
Unless the New Jersey Devils can work him in to the payroll and convince him to stay, Zach Parise will hit the market by either reaching unrestricted free agency next summer or being placed on the trade block at or by the NHL’s trade deadline. He could be just what the Stars need to inject life in to the franchise and get things back on track on and off the ice.
For the better part of the Stars 17 seasons in Dallas, attendance hasn’t been an issue and in fact the Stars have been one of the more profitable franchises going. Things have changed over the last few seasons and the Stars have made their way back down to the bottom of the sporting world totem pole in Dallas. The Stars fan base was spoiled for years with not only a winning team, but also by being able to watch players like Brett Hull, Sergei Zubov, Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, and of course Mike Modano. All that has slowly gone away. The Stars went from being a consistent contender to going four years without winning a playoff round if you count the 2004-05 lockout. Since that run to the conference final in 2008 that ended the streak, the Stars have now gone three years in a row without even qualifying for the playoffs and of course the above mentioned players have all left the Stars and retired from the game one by one. Not to mention the current ownership ( or lack of ) situation and the inability to invest money in to the team like before has turned lots of people away. No, there’s not a lot to bring people to the rink right now despite the Stars boasting veterans like Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow, and young talents like Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn. A real superstar like Zach Parise could not only help the Stars when it comes to winning games, but he would also give them that face that they’re lacking to draw people to the AAC.
THE TWO YEAR PLAN
Let’s fast forward to the end of the 2012-13 season. Where will the Stars be by then ? Brenden Morrow will be a UFA and assuming we re-sign him, he’ll be 34 years old and likely will have seen his better days come and go by then. Michael Ryder’s contract will also be up and he’ll be in a similar situation at age 33 whether he’s re-signed or not. As of now, the only guy you could call a top four winger that will be considered in his prime ( assuming Jamie Benn is a center ) would be Loui Eriksson. It’s a drop off after that if you consider the Stars prospect pool isn’t all that deep. There really isn’t anyone in the system with the star potential if you compare our future to say a team like Edmonton, though Tomas Vincour has the potential to be a top six forward but do we bank on that ? 2009 first round pick Scott Glennie has had a rough go so far and has been unable to make any real progress and although it’s too early to write him off, it’s tough to call him a high end prospect at this point. So where does that leave us ? Well, pretty thin up front by then if things stay the course. The powers that be will have to decide if a complete re-build is in order and if it is, they may as well start now at stocking the shelves with high end prospects and raft picks and unloading some veterans. You would have to consider though that given the current dwindling fan interest in the Stars, a complete re-build would likely mean even less interest and some more years without any playoffs. Could the franchise sustain that ? Could it recover ? Joe Nieuwendyk has stated though that he wants to win sooner rather than later so you would have to think something else has to give. A player/players will need to be added to not only bridge that gap, but to make that Stars a contender again. Zach Parise would help with both big time.
It’s not a secret that the Stars have been suffering financially due to Tom Hicks’s money woes but thankfully a new owner should be in place in the next month or two. A new owner likely won’t want to sit around and watch his new investment remain stagnant. Let’s hope not anyways. If you take Buffalo’s recent reload thanks to new owner Terry Pegula as an example, as well as Darryl Katz in Edmonton, it tells you that new owners generally like to make their mark in one way or another. Given the current attendance problems in Dallas, you would suspect that going the Terry Pegula route would be the preferred option and likely the necessary one to keep the franchise afloat. The Stars will have an owner with money to inject in to the lineup and will definitely have the cap space to do it, especially if the cap goes up again as expected.
ZACH PARISE HIMSELF
At age 27, Parise has proven himself to be one of the game’s elite players. He plays in both ends of the rink and there aren’t many who can match his offensive flair. He came up big for the U.S. in the 2010 Olympics with four goals and eight points in the six games as well as scoring the tying goal late to send the gold medal game vs Canada in to overtime. Excluding his rookie season of 2005-06, he’s played four full seasons so far ( injured most of last year ) and has averaged 36.5 goals and just shy of 76 points per. His last two full seasons though since he’s really come in to his own has seen him average nearly 42 goals and 88 points per. Those are definitely numbers the Stars could use in the lineup. Nobody could ever replace Mike Modano or replicate what he’s done for this franchise but being that Parise is also American, he’s definitely someone the fans could attach themselves to. I’m not one to just jump on the biggest free agent out there and assume it’s a good idea to throw our money at him, but Parise is the exception. He’s the complete package and you know what you’re getting. Now of course, these are all reasons why the Devils will and likely are doing what they can to keep him, and that is definitely the first and probably the biggest roadblock for anyone wishing to obtain his services. He very well could decide to stick with the Devil he knows ( pun intended ) rather than one he doesn’t, but he could also decide to move on to greener ( hopefully the Stars new uniforms , pun also intended ) pastures. Ultimately it will be his decision.
For the Stars though, it seems the perfect fit given the timing and the current situation this franchise is in. Things seem to be lined up perfectly if you take everything in to account. Of course he wouldn’t be able to wear his number 9, which should be hanging in the rafters at some point soon. Neal Broten’s number 7 is retired and so are Bill Goldsworthy’s number 8 and Bill Masterton’s 19. Of course the captain Brenden Morrow wouldn’t be giving up his number 10, so that leaves number 11 as the closest number that could possibly be available to him, which just happens to be the number that his father Jean Paul wore for this franchise back in it’s Minnesota days. Coincidence ? I don’t think so.
Go get him Joe.
About the Author
Written by Travis Currie
Im your typical sports fan. Just a little more crazy about it. I live and die for my teams and I drive my girlfriend nuts. I consider myself the world's biggest Stars fan. Ive been a fan since I was a young kid going back to the mid 80's. Favourite Stars player of all-time is of course Mike Modano. Favourite non-Stars player of all-time is Peter Stastny. I love talking sports so please leave a reply to anything you agree or disagree with. If youd like to contact me my email is firstname.lastname@example.org