Brought to you by: Big Shucks
The Dallas Stars should have been enjoying a relaxing break during All-Star weekend. A send-off victory against the Sabres ended a three game losing streak just before the break and Tyler Seguin headed to LA to represent the team in the NHL festivities.
Instead the Stars were forced to hear rumors about their coach being dismissed from the team when the season ends. A Fort Worth Star Telegram article reported a source from the team said Lindy Ruff would not return next season if the Stars do not make playoffs.
Ruff, who is coaching his fourth season with the Stars, has a 151-105-40 record with the team. That includes last year’s 50-23-9 (109 points) record.
Fifty games through this season and the Stars are 21-20-10 (52), one point out of a playoff spot. The report came at a point in the season where the Stars have lost five of their last seven.
To say this is a down season would be an underestimate. At this time last year, they were the best team in the Western Conference and playoffs were all but guaranteed. But now as this team idles between 11th and 13th in the conference, someone has to get the blame.
The easiest person to blame is the head coach. Only so many players can be moved at the trade deadline or offseason. All 25-27 players cannot be fired. So the coach is the usually scapegoat.
But this is a tough year to judge the performance of a coach. Several free agents hit the market in the offseason without the Stars going after any of them. Starters such as Jason Demers and Kris Russell were replaced with inexperienced, young defensemen. Then the injury bug hit. Eleven players have missed multiple games this season with Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky missing the entire season.
The Stars may have survived all of that if they would have solved the goaltender situation. The two goaltender system was the team’s downfall last season and prevented the Stars from making a deep run in the playoffs. The Stars failed to acquire a goaltender in the offseason and were left with the same big problem they had last season.
All that said and the Stars are still just a point out of a playoff spot. Ruff has mixed-and-matched lineups, replaced goaltenders (several times) and called out star players to somehow keep this team revenant.
Making the playoffs or not, it would be interesting to see what Ruff can do with the team next season. The young talent on this team will play better having a year under their belt. Missing players will be back from injury. And surely the front office will fix this two goaltender system, right?
Ruff has one more year left on his contract after this season. He has taken the Stars to the playoffs twice in his four years and is keeping a young team riddled by injuries in playoff contention. The proven, veteran coach deserves to finish out his contract.
Meanwhile the Stars continue to fight for a Wild Card spot with 31 games left. Two games remain on their long home-stand before heading back on the road.
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