• Member of The Internet Defense League

Neuwendyk’s Trades May be Why Stars Are Looking Elsewhere

Jaramir Jagr has at least one last chance to lift Lord Stanley’s chalice again. And he has Joe Neuwendyk to thank for it.

Jagr will lace up the skates for the Boston Bruins tonight as they look to even up the Stanley Cup Finals at one game apiece against Chicago. Two things to keep in mind: The Cup Finals have proven over the years that a 1-0 deficit is almost worthless, so Jagr’s Bruins are definitely still in it, and Jagr is not just along for the ride. Despite not yet putting the puck in the net himself this postseason, the 41-year-old has still contributed 26 points in 28 combined regular-post season games> And those that actually were in the American Airlines Center when Jagr wore the green and black know how potent he could still be on the power play.

The ironic thing is that, with a Boston-Pittsburgh East Final, it was guaranteed that a former Star would be playing for the Cup, with Brenden Morrow skating for the Penguins. Two trades of top players by the Stars payed big dividends for the recipients.

Which makes you wonder if those deals were ultimately what cost Neuwendyk his job as Stars GM.

Being a major league general manager is not an easy job, unless it’s GM of the Dallas Cowboys because you have ultimate job security by inhabiting the same body as the owner. But it’s even tougher when you’re running a club looking at a fifth straight year out of the playoffs in a league where you just have to cross over into that eighth spot to get in. And when you have a new owner like the Stars have in Tom Gaglardi, you’re on even thinner ice (pun intended).

Neuwendyk was clearly looking to the future, dealing aging players for more young talent that could grow with the likes of Jaime Benn, Cody Eakin, Brenden Dillon and others. WHen you’re a new owner, however, you want into that excitement of the NHL playoffs as soon as possible, and it probably stings that an opportunity was stripped away.

Even with the deals, the Stars still were within striking distance as the games ticked down before a three-game losing streak to end the year ultimately put them seven points out of that final spot. (Don’t get me started on the “points” thing; that’s a discussion for another time.)

You have to winder if Gaglardi saw that and had to feel that, had Morro and Jagr still been here, would the Stars have had the power to get up into that playoff window after all.

And to anyone who would just fire back that finishing with the last spot wouldn’t be worth it anyway, Gaglardi could just show them those year-old clips of an eight-place team from Los Angeles hoisting the Cup.

That’s probably why the former Conn Smythe trophy winner was shown the door.

So now it’s wait and see as to what new GM Jim Nill will do under Gaglardi’s watch. Just how much moey will Gaglardi be willing to shill out to get players to come to Texas?

It’s pretty clear the new owner wants to win now. And with him stripping away almost every holdover from the Stars’ years of glory, from the uniforms to “Rock and Roll Part II,” he may need to in order to get those AAC seats filled.

For Now, Stars’ Future Looks Brighter Than the Mavericks’

The lights are out in the American Airlines Center. And they likely will be out for six to seven weeks total, since unlike Denver, Dallas usually prepares for its teams making playoff runs.

But that’s not happening this year. The AAC will host no playoff games for the first time in its history, as the Mavericks and Stars have both failed to make the postseason for the first time since 1996.

Both teams’ fans and management face the big question: How to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

In either case, coming up with answers is easier than making them work. But upon close inspection, it seems the club in sweaters and skates may be in a better position than the one in tanks and sneakers.

The Mavericks’ hopes of returning to the playoffs, let alone becoming contenders for a title again, appear to once again hinge on breaking the bank on signing some big name free agent for the first time in their franchise’s history.

Top prizes this year: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

At the moment, Paul has to be seen as the most likely option. For now, let’s assume that a division title can’t overcome Donald Sterling’s stinginess and no maximum contract is coming Paul’s way from the Clippers. And why anyone would want to touch Howard after he got one coach fired in Orlando, still forced the Magic to trade him and then got ANOTHER coach fired with the Lakers is beyond me. All that talent plus bad attitude equals fool’s gold.

However, CP3 himself might not be much better. Rumors were circulating out of La La Land that Blake Griffin and other players nearly came to blows with theirq All Star guard even before the playoffs began. And while they amaze viewers with their ability to fill up the bucket themselves without ever dishing the ball off, the team success with score-first point guards is not good.

Still, the Mavs have few other options if they’re going to give Dirk Nowitzki a chance for another ring in what few years he may have left. And this is largely due to the Mavs’ inability to develop young players.

And it can’t just be blamed on picking so low in the draft every year. As much as I dislike the San Antonio Spurs, they do a fantastic job finding playes with their low picks that fit their system. I will say if there is an excuse, it lies in the inability to trust young players nowadays, which I’ll discuss further another day.

But ultimately, getting good young players is why the team with the most likely chance to improve may be the one that plays on the ice.

And yes, I’m saying that despite the Dallas Stars having fired their general manager and coach after missing the playoffs for a fifth straight year.

It’s been at least three straight years that the Stars have just missed out on breaking through that playoff glass ceiling. And clearly the front office moves are Tom Gaglardi’s attempt to find a way to stir interest back up after having fallen so far from the days of rocking Reunion Arena. Trading Brendan Morrow and Jaramir Jagr during the season definitely didn’t help.

But with the likes of Jaime and Geordie Benn, Trevor Daley, Cody Eakins and Brenden Dillon, the Stars are clearly committed to building a full team together from the ground up.

And this my be just my opinion, but that does lead to more optimism. if you stock you rtem with old veterans, you better win immediately, or the losing will be VERY frustrating. (Isn’t it, Anaheim baseball fans?) But with a young roster, there is hope, the belief that even if they’re not winning NOW, you feel like they’re trying and thing can only go up.

The Rangers built their way into a winning position by trusting their development system, as evidenced by having MLB’s best record with all but three pitchers coming from said system. The Stars are clearly looking to do the same, though for now whether it will finally work remains wait-and-see.

But the fact that they have a system to use is the one big advantage they have over their hardwood brethren. The lack of a true development program in the NBA is one more discussion for another time.

What else will happen over these summer months will go a long way in determining just how both teams’ situations and my thoughts on them will change.

But for now, if you’re hoping to see a playoff game at the AAC in 2014, you’re more likely to go to one wearing a black sweater than a blue tank top.