Topic #1 – Parcells Resigns. Not Re-signs.
I was shocked to hear this went down. I also keep hearing this was over an extension that Jerry wasn’t interested in giving, so Parcells decided to bail. Not sure if it is true, but everyone is saying it.
Regardless, he is leaving, which I don’t like (mostly because I fear who is hired next) but there is a case to be made that they could use a coach with the energy to go 24/7 for this team right now. I have several emails from you that suggest he was dangerously close to Don Nelson at the end.
Candidates? I think money-whipping Cowher or Stoops makes the most sense to me, but what Jerry has in mind is anyone’s guess.
Just not Norv, please. I got a gut-full of his routine for 7 years in Washington …no thanks, despite the fact that Galloway/Hansen/anyone who enjoyed those 3 Super Bowl rings wants him back. Sorry, dude is a coordinator. I am convinced of it.
JJT’s take …
Thankfully, the Bill Parcells Era ended Monday. It must be classified as a failure.
Yes, the Cowboys have more talent than when Mr. Parcells arrived four years ago. And, sure, there were some unforgettable moments such as the 2003 overtime win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football and Tony Romo's dazzling performance on Thanksgiving Day.
But the NFL is strictly about winning, and the reality is Mr. Parcells ends his tenure with the same number of playoff victories as his predecessor, Dave Campo: zero.
Owner Jerry Jones paid Mr. Parcells nearly $20 million for 34 wins, 32 losses, including two first-round playoff losses, and no NFC East titles. No sane person would consider that a success, given Mr. Parcells' Hall of Fame résumé.
And in the end, Mr. Parcells left the Cowboys in a precarious position after selfishly taking two weeks to decide on his future, giving credence to the idea that he retired because Mr. Jones correctly refused to give him a contract extension.
The owner now finds himself sifting through second-tier candidates to find the seventh head coach in franchise history, unless he wants to wait another two weeks for a chance to interview Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera.
Whomever Mr. Jones hires, the coach still must put together a staff, because Dallas has only eight assistants under contract. That's a difficult task considering the strict guidelines the NFL has regarding the hiring of assistant coaches already under contract.
Bob Stoops? Not as hot as he once was, and I'm not sure he's cut out for the media exposure a Cowboys coach endures, but he's still an interesting name.
Pete Carroll? He gets Michigan's vote, anyway.
Jeff Fisher? An early contender, he's tied up in a new deal in Tennessee. Bill Cowher? Taking a year off. Charlie Weis? Too expensive to buy out.
Frankly, I'd take any of the above. You should, too. Only a few organizations in sports have the Cowboys' cachet, meaning the latest NFL vacancy should attract the best candidates.
But that's not how Jerry works. From all indications, he may already have his man. Or he should. Just because the head coach made him wait two weeks while he decided what to do, Jerry didn't need to be held hostage.
And if Parcells was simply waiting on an extension, then Jerry played it just right.
Bet that he's been compiling a short list of candidates all along.
Bet this, too: If you hadn't heard from Jerry by the time Bill Parcells' statement hit the news Monday, forget about coaching the Cowboys.
The names circulating for weeks have been Wade Phillips and Norv Turner, a couple of logical candidates for many reasons, particularly if you understand Jerry's history.
Phillips is appealing because of his long experience with the 3-4, something Mike Zimmer didn't have. And unless you want to remake the Cowboys' roster – Jerry doesn't – making this defense work should be a priority.
Turner? He'd be an excellent mentor to Tony Romo, and he'd fix an inconsistent offense. He's also one of Jerry's favorites, a friendly reminder from an era that seems more distant every season.
Both Phillips and Turner are also players' coaches. Don't discount how much it means. Parcells didn't know how to reach his players anymore. Or wouldn't. Buck Showalter couldn't, either, and that's why Ron Washington is running the Rangers now.
The Cowboys, like the Rangers, will benefit from a looser atmosphere, from the coaching staff on down.
But a warm and fuzzy locker room is not necessarily why Jerry will go with Phillips or Turner, either.
For some, this was considered a great day at Valley Ranch. For me, it was considered a necessary day. It was time. Four years is plenty of time to either produce or leave.
Head 'em out. Move 'em out.
The regret here is it didn't work out with Parcells, but that is also not Jerry's fault. Jerry handled Big Bill's four years almost flawlessly as an owner, by far his best performance ever in a relationship with a head coach. (Don't give me an Eldorado Owens rebuttal. Bill could and should have said no to that fool, or to Jerry's stupid idea to sign Eldo).
Over the past four years here, this was a pretty simple recipe for failure. The players didn't perform, and Parcells didn't produce. Then the head coach was no longer employed. It's an old story in the jock kingdom.
Speaking of stories, there were grassy knoll theories floating around Monday about this departure being a failed contract negotiation. That Parcells was asking for a year or two tacked onto the one year he had left.
I can't confirm or deny, but Big Bill didn't deserve another minute of contract security, much less an extra year.
Count me among those sorry Parcells couldn't get it done here, but not leaving the light on in case he changes his mind.
Bring on the next hire.
Except, this is the scary part, of course. Scary Jerry hasn't got one of these right since the very first one. The Jimster in 1989. Anyone saying it was time for Big Bill to go (like me) has to live with Jones' unfortunate track record.
The first name I'd put in the mix is Norv Turner, currently the offensive coordinator with the 49ers.
"Not the sexy hire I'm sure many fans are looking for," said Jimmy, "but when you have the Tony Romo factor, then everybody had better think hard about Norv Turner.
"Everyone knows how I feel about Norv, but beyond that, I'm taking a look at what you want to happen on offense with Romo. And Norv is the candidate that makes the most sense in that area."
But when you mix in the serious defensive questions, can Turner find the right answers there?
"I don't know," answered Johnson, "but on a list of priorities for the Cowboys, developing Romo is as important as putting the defense back together. Now, can you find the right guy to do both?"
Of course, Turner knows the ropes here, and knows Jerry well. He's not the puppet type, but he can relate to how Jones goes about his business. Never underestimate this. It's all part of the local process.
Tony Romo needs Norv Turner. Julius Jones and Marion Barber need Norv Turner. Norv Turner's offense makes QBs and RBs better, and he did it again this year with Alex Smith and Frank Gore in San Francisco.
So, Randy, you are telling me that Jimmy vouches for Norv? Wow. Who would have guessed Jimmy would vouch for Norv. Next thing you will tell me is that Mike and Greg vouch for Barry Switzer!
Topic #2 – NHL All-Star Game activities
I am loving life. This is really cool having this in town. I love that Crosby’s first All-Star game is here in Dallas.
Guerin back in town …
Bill Guerin called Dallas home for three seasons, so his return for the 2007 NHL All-Star festivities is a homecoming.
Guerin has chosen to make it a happy homecoming. He was bought out by the Stars after last season and has moved on to St. Louis, where he has scored 20 goals and 15 assists in 47 games. Guerin says he holds no animosity over the end of his tenure with the Stars, rather savoring the experiences the Guerin family enjoyed while in "Big D".
It feels great to be here, honest to God," Guerin said during Monday afternoon's scrum with the media. "It feels like coming home. As far as the buyout, I understood their perspective. But I was very fortunate to have played with the Stars and to have lived in Dallas. It's a great city.
"I never felt any pressure regarding my contract," Guerin said of the lucrative free-agent deal he signed to join the Stars. There is the good pressure, the pressure you put on yourself to succeed. I just tried to go out and play my game every night. I wish we had had a chance to win a Cup here. It just didn't work out."
NHL Rosters for the Big All-Star Game …
Young Stars Rosters …
NHL to sort through scheduling changes today …
NHL players may be in line for more frequent flyer miles if the NHL decides to revamp next season's schedule today.
After coming within one vote of bringing back full inter-conference play last month, the board of governors will discuss what's become an emotional issue.
Not everybody is on board for a change to the current format. San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton said it wouldn't bother him to not see all 29 opponents during the regular season.
"I'm really a guy who likes to travel as little as possible and likes to get some rest," said Thornton. "I'd like to see us play less games and that would give us more of a chance to focus on staying fresh."
While there are several proposals on the table, a formula that will see teams from the East and West play each other once and possibly twice is getting consideration.
"I have a strong sense from fellow governors that everybody would like to see resolution on this issue," said Senators president Roy Mlakar.
"I know there are a lot of people who feel that we should play all the teams in the Western Conference at least once during the regular season. I know all the Canadian teams would be very disappointed if we didn't get a chance to play each other every year."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly agrees the league needs to resolve the issue one way or another today. The league can't keep talking about a change and then do nothing. Part of the problem is the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals are all against a change because most of their travel is done by bus. Those owners have a lot of power and the league is going to need 20 votes to make this pass.
"I'd be guessing if I thought which way this might go," said Daly.
Newy gets to say goodbye …
Joe Nieuwendyk retired in December when chronic back problems forced him to end his 20-year NHL career. He got to share that sentiment yesterday with Dallas Stars fans attending the NHL all-star game festivities.
Nieuwendyk was one of 11 NHL players recognized during the league's salute to a "Generation of Stars" that also included Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, 19-time all-star Ray Bourque and 15-time all-star Mark Messier.
During his career, Nieuwendyk won his three Stanley Cups with three teams - Calgary,
Dallas and New Jersey - and helped Canada capture an Olympic gold medal in 2002. When the Stars won their Cup in 1999, Nieuwendyk won the Conn Smythe award as the MVP of the playoffs.
"It was terrific to be part of what happened here in '99. For me, it started in '95, coming here to a city where hockey was page eight on the sports page. To be part of that was a really special feeling," Nieuwendyk said. "I never really got a chance to say goodbye when I left."
Before being honoured with some of the league's greats, Nieuwendyk was among 13 players from the 1999 Stars team that reunited. About 1,000 fans took part in a rally outside the American Airlines Center, where Mike Modano led a procession to the stage hoisting the Stanley Cup.
Ovechkin vs Briere …feel the love…
OVECHKIN A LAUGH RIOT: Crosby may be the face of the NHL, but Ovechkin could become the mouth of the league in the future. While Crosby is guarded in almost everything he says, the impish Ovechkin certainly isn’t afraid to have some fun when he’s answering queries.
He was asked Monday about playing in the starting lineup with Daniel Briere of the Buffalo Sabres, whom he drilled from behind into the boards earlier this season. He was asked whether he would seek Briere out to speak with him prior to the game.
“Yeah, just fight in the locker room,” Ovechkin said. “No, just shake hands, see how is everything.”
December 2 Ovechkin with hit from behind
December 26 Briere gets revenge
Ovechkin’s reaction to spear
Sorry, no Youtube comedy today. Gotta go…