Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Dimming Stars

The Dallas Stars 2007 postseason is over, and despite the great play of Marty Turco in the three Dallas wins, the overall roster is declining.

Sure the Stars have a lot of younger talent that is really hitting their stride. But the core of this team that has helped maintain their string of postseason appearances isn't getting any younger. Mike Modano, Surgei Zubov and Stu Barnes are all going to turn 37 this year. Jere Lehtinen, Eric Lindros, Darryl Sydor and Phillippe Boucher are all in their mid-30s.

Modano, the team's long-time captain, lost his C to Brenden Morrow, the team's new leader. It's a sign of changing times in Dallas. And another abbreviated postseason means the decline continues.

When the Stars arrived in North Texas in 1993, they began an impressive playoff run that the city became accustomed to. In the 15 seasons since the North Stars dropped their compass and because the Dallas Stars, the franchise has been to the post season 11 times. However the last three playoffs Dallas has been to (2004, 2006 and 2007) have all ended without a trip to the second round. At least coach Dave Tippett was able to guide the Stars to more than one postseason win this time around. That was more thanks to a hot goaltender, though.

Marty Turco, who turns 32 this August, saved the Stars series when he saved every shot in games two, five and six. His three shutouts in one series tied a postseason record. Hey, you know what, that's awesome. Good for him. However all this means is his critics will say, "okay, now can he win a series?"

Yes, Turco played well enough for Dallas to advance, but the fact is Vancouver is moving on. So that's great that he played well enough. Tracy McGrady has played well enough his previous postseason appearances for his teams to advance, but that NBA superstar has never been out of the first round (true that might change this year with the Rockets up 2-0 over the Jazz).

After speaking to my friend Vegas Dave about this subject last night, he said that Dallas is not even close to contending for the Stanley Cup. Obviously. But the point is not that they aren't close, nor is the point that they aren't close anymore. The problem is - with a few exceptions - they are going in the wrong direction.

This playoff season can be chalked up as a win for Marty Turco if you really want. Personally, I'd like to see a goalie advance before we declare his postseason successful. I know that's unfair with how well he played, but as the goalie it's his job to be better than his counterpart in the opposite crease. And Vancouver's Roberto Luongo shut down Dallas when he had to.

It's a stretch to say that this playoff series is positive for the younger talent on the Stars to get them experience. The only problem is there is no younger talent. The team is ready for it's collective AARP card. Modano doesn't need more playoff experience. Neither do Zubov or Sydor. Dallas would never have been the 1999 Stanley Cup champion without each of these guys and several other great playmakers of the day. And the Stars won't be Stanley Cup champions again until a new guard of Stars begins to shine.

Don't misinterpret this to mean I want the veterans run out of town. I don't. They are all fan favorites, and they're the reason people go to games. Mike Modano and the other's who were on that 1999 team are the face of the Dallas Stars. But it's time for them to take more reduced roles to allow any younger talent to develop. At this least way these veterans who know what it takes to win it all can mentor the new generate of Stars who'll have a shot at Lord Stanley's Cup.

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