Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Go Stars!

Email of the Day:


I honestly don’t get the opportunity to listen to BAD radio, but what is you opinion on the Stars 2007-2008 season coming up?

I still think they’re going to be a good team with a #5 season finish, but I’m still shocked of the little moves that were made in the off-season to improve the goal-scoring department.


Joe, sorry you have things to do during our show. Those jobs can be pesky like that.

On to the Stars. I love the Stars. I love hockey. I have a bit of excitement in my being today knowing that hockey awaits me tonight.

However, the Stars are in for a tough season by Stars standards. It is my hope that someday soon the Stars return to being a legitimate Cup contender, but I don’t believe anyone with a straight face can make that claim about these guys. They will be competitive, they will not give an inch, and they will fight their tails off, but at the end of the season, I anticipate they will be on the road in the first round of the playoffs (if they make the playoffs) and will be quickly bounced to the golf course in the first few days of May.

There is not enough quality youth, there is not enough scoring, and there is not enough ability to play dominant 5 on 5 hockey. Sure the Stars will have a nice power play and a nice penalty kill. But when the game is even, the Stars usually cannot score.

Modano is 37, Zubov is 37, Lehtinen is 34, and the help behind them is Morrow, Turco, and a bunch of guys who are Finnish, but cannot finish. Odd, huh?

The Sharks are way better than Dallas in my estimation, and Anaheim won the Cup about 4 days ago so it might be tough to see the Stars any better than 3rd in their own Division. The good news is that the rest of the West is so-so enough that 3rd in the Pacific should still be between #6 and #8 in the West. But will this be the year that the Stars win another playoff series? Don't bet the farm, please.

Anyway, Go Stars, but the Cup is so far away that I cannot even see it anymore.

Cowlishaw looks at it

Modano was a No. 1 overall pick, but the Stars don't have another player they drafted in the top 20. They have acquired talent through the years from other organizations – Sergei Zubov from Pittsburgh, Jeff Halpern from Washington, Stu Barnes from Buffalo.

But because of the generally high level of success over the years – seven division titles the last 10 seasons – the Stars rarely draft high. And the top 20 picks they have had over the years – Derian Hatcher, Richard Matvichuk, Todd Harvey, Jarome Iginla, Richard Jackman – are long gone.

However, it's from their collection of youth that the improvement in scoring will have to come. That and full seasons of good health for Modano and captain Brenden Morrow. The Stars had little money available to pursue free agents and the few they did pursue, including Slava Kozlov, declined to come.

"Other teams had more room under the cap than we did and were able to do more things," Modano said. "So for us, it's got to be the [Jussi] Jokinens and [Antti] Miettinens and Loui Eriksson's stepping up."

If that fails to happen – for example, Jokinen has never been able to turn his sensational shootout skills into becoming a big-time scorer – then I think the Stars risk missing the playoffs for only the second time in 10 years.

Without having made big off-season gains, it's hard to see this club closing the ground on Anaheim and San Jose at the top of the Pacific Division. And teams such as Los Angeles, St. Louis and even Chicago appear to be on the rise in the West, possibly ready to challenge for a playoff spot as early as next spring.

Modano is beginning this season with hope that something more than a personal scoring record is on the horizon.

"I think we still fit into the picture in the West pretty good," he said. "Some young guys got some good playing time under their belts last year when a lot of us were hurt. Playing strong defending hockey has always been this team's backbone, and it's still there.

"In the past, we've been able to turn that defense into strong offensive chances. The offense kind of comes and goes, but you do have to have a focus on offense now because the rules do let you spend more time with the puck and not get clutched and grabbed all the time."

The face of the Stars franchise will grab another record early in the season. It doesn't have to be the last reward this team provides its fan base this season. But troubling signs that it could be are definitely in place.

Stars have a quality Captain …and he has a radio show on the Ticket, Thursdays at 2:10…

It has been a year since Morrow was named the Stars' captain, but seasons of practices, games, injuries, exhilarating highs and heartbreaking lows have led to this point. But those around him say they always saw his leadership potential. In fact, the Stars made him an assistant captain back in 2003

"That's his personality," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "But the thing about him is, his assertiveness is stronger. He earned the respect from veterans and young players and the coaching staff.

"The leadership has always been there; it's just the process he had to go through to get the respect level."

General manager Doug Armstrong said Morrow is "zero maintenance. His stature now is not just a young guy, but someone whose opinion I respect. He's a leader."

Former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said the captain's role fits Morrow well.
"There's a difference between being the face and being the voice of a franchise," Hitchcock said. "Brenden has become the voice of the franchise now, and that's what a captain has to be."

Still, it doesn't seem that long ago Morrow was the rookie who earned playing time when others' injuries gave him a chance in 1999-2000. For Morrow, it was all about earning whatever he could.

"If I played seven minutes, I wanted it to be a great seven minutes," Morrow said. "I never thought if I made a mistake I'd be sent down. I just played the game hard, and I think that probably was what caught the coaches' attention."

Morrow was physical, he got to the net and he could be a little scrappy if the situation called for it.

"He was willing to do all the hard things people weren't willing to do," Hitchcock said. "He was a very difficult player to play against at a young age, and, to me, it was just a continuation of the way he played as a junior.

"He had an edge to his game, and that allowed him to play in the NHL right away."

ESPN Ranks the NHL

1. San Jose Sharks

Yes, they've been ousted in the second round of the playoffs for two straight seasons, but is this the season the Sharks turn things around for good? Any team that has Joe Thornton (114 points in 2006-07) has more than a decent chance. San Jose racked up 258 goals last season. Since the Sharks are bringing back most of their lineup, that number should not change. Some may point to defenseman Scott Hannan's departure, but San Jose still has Craig Rivet, Matt Carle and Kyle McLaren.

2. New York Rangers

On paper, this team has no true weakness heading into the new season: deep down the middle, Henrik Lundqvist in net and, yes, there's a defense. The blue-line group ranked ninth in goals-against last season, so it's not like they're starting from scratch. And King Henrik might have a true big man playing in front of him if the club keeps 20-year-old Marc Staal in Manhattan. The only thing that scares us right now is that coach Tom Renney is still figuring out his top two lines. (Where will Scott Gomez and Chris Drury fit?) What a problem to have.

3. Detroit Red Wings

Get the octopi ready! Unless Dominik Hasek doesn't hold up (which is always a question), we can't see who can challenge the Red Wings in the Central Division. Why? There's Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios (freak of nature!), Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Rafalski and Tomas Holmstrom, and most of the 19 players who hit double digits in points last season are back in Hockeytown.

4. Ottawa Senators

Note to Ray Emery: Don't be an angry driver and miss those team flights. Stop. It's not worth it! Stop. End of transmission. With Jason Spezza, Wade Redden and Dany Heatley playing in the last season of their respective contracts, Ottawa fans might be feeling like it's now or never. But with most of its squad returning from their Cup finals campaign, we don't see how the Sens don't start off on the right skate.

5. Anaheim Ducks

We love the Ducks, we really do. But the defending Stanley Cup champion enters this season with too many questions to earn No. 1 billing. The biggest: the impending futures of Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne. Especially Niedermayer. You can't replace a player and a defenseman like him. Then, there's the health of goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who missed the team's season-opening weekend in London because of a nagging sports hernia condition.

6. Pittsburgh Penguins

Will Sidney Crosby run for mayor, too? The 20-year-old star won the scoring title, the Hart Trophy and ended the Penguins' four-season playoff drought all in the same season. He and other Penguins even delivered season tickets to fans' doors. Marc-Andre Fleury is a bit of a question mark, but Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Sergei Gonchar, Gary Roberts and Petr Sykora return; plus, there's the offseason addition of Darryl Sydor on defense. Pittsburgh will be in a dogfight with the Rangers for the Atlantic crown.

7. Calgary Flames

So, what's the over/under on new coach Mike Keenan? Can things really get that out of control if ol' Darryl's watching? Hope Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr don't regret signing those long-term deals. That being said, this lineup is still one of the best in the West. Can Adrian Aucoin rediscover his game after two lowly injury-plagued seasons in Chicago? The Flames' 22nd-ranked power play could use a boost.

8. Colorado Avalanche

Is a mullet worth at least a point in the standings? We think Ryan Smyth is the kind of player who is the difference between making the playoffs and an April round of golf. Just ask the Islanders and Oilers. Add in Scott Hannan, the now healthy Jordan Leopold, Paul Stastny and the eternal Av Joe Sakic, and you have one of the best "punches" in the league. Peter Budaj and Jose Theodore round out the lineup in net. This team was tied for third in goals scored last season (267) and finished the season on a 15-2-2 run. They're ready for more.

9. Buffalo Sabres

We know many in Buffalo were about to choke on their wings when they saw Chris Drury and Daniel Briere leave town this summer. And while those two players are very difficult to replace, we've seen enough youngsters come up and save the day over the past few seasons to know that all hope is not lost. You have a solid NHL netminder in Ryan Miller, too. Fans will also hope to see Tim Connolly come back strong. OK, let's open the argument up again: Duff's or Anchor Bar?

10. Vancouver Canucks

Will they score? Will Markus Naslund snap out of that mind-numbing (for me, at least) funk? A stud of an NHL goaltender is a terrible thing to waste. Roberto Luongo and his 47 wins carried this team into the postseason. Yes, yes, we know there were the Wonder Twins (Daniel and Henrik Sedin), we're not discounting that. But Luongo gives this team life, and he's the one who gets his team into the preseason Top 10.

16. Dallas Stars

Now that Marty Turco has erased all of those playoff demons (buried them, more like it), the Dallas Stars have bigger questions hanging over their heads. After another disappointing playoff loss, to the low-scoring Canucks no less, do we keep the Stars among the West's elite? Playing in a division with the Sharks and Ducks, we're not so sure. But Sergei Zubov always earns rankings points.

There is your hockey. Now on to College Football Fun…

Coach Fran is defiant

Dennis Franchione issued a defiant response Tuesday aimed at his critics who want him ousted as the head football coach at Texas A&M.

"I have no intention of resigning this position," Franchione said Tuesday in what was supposed to be his weekly news conference.

The routine get-together with reporters inside Hagner Auditorium morphed into one of the most defining and surreal moments of his A&M tenure.

Franchione is 29-24 in four-plus seasons at A&M and 3-13 against ranked teams. But those calling for his dismissal sometimes "forget you're a human being," Franchione said.

"I do have feelings, and I am sensitive," he added. "Everybody needs to know that. I do make mistakes, as I have. But all the people that have come to my guidance are really important. And the good Lord being with me is really important."

The events of the last two weeks prompted something drastic.

An embarrassing 34-17 loss at Miami on Sept. 20 enraged Franchione's critics. News of Franchione's secret e-mail newsletter may have exposed A&M to NCAA problems. And then, radio stations floated rumors that Franchione would resign in an imagined 4 p.m. news conference Monday.

Quarterback Stephen McGee said around 10 p.m. Monday he came up with the idea of having the players attend the news conference in a show of support. The players assembled just before noon, walked up a back stairwell and marched into the auditorium in unison.

Franchione's wife, Kim, officials from the 12th Man Foundation and other assorted school officials also crammed into the auditorium. The scene was reminiscent of news conferences when A&M hired or fired a prominent coach.

When Franchione entered the room, the players erupted and gave him a standing ovation. Franchione looked genuinely touched and joked, "You guys are in trouble for missing class, you know that, don't you?"

Franchione then read a prepared statement. He started by saying he wanted to "leave no doubt about my intentions and status concerning the job.

Does Player Support Help his case?

If the standing ovation the Texas A&M football team gave Dennis Franchione on Tuesday proved anything, it's that college kids still overestimate the impact of their own opinions as much as they always have. When the time comes for Franchione's bosses to decide his fate, they will assign about as much weight to Tuesday's applause as world leaders give to peace rallies on the typical campus quad.

Sure, the youthful demonstrations make for nice video footage. But in the end, the decisions are made by grown-ups who don't care what the kids think.

To see college players sticking up for an embattled coach is nothing new, but a few details of this week's drama at A&M bring one particular parallel to mind. It happened almost a decade ago at the home of the Aggies' archrivals, but the similarities are uncanny.

Like Franchione, then-Texas basketball coach Tom Penders was in charge of a slipping program in 1998. And like Franchione, Penders allowed the situation to worsen when inside information wound up in the wrong hands, via the popular technology of the time (one of Penders' underlings faxed a player's grades to a radio station; one of Franchione's underlings e-mailed injury reports to big-money donors).

And just when the criticism surrounding the coach was becoming too loud to ignore, Penders received an out-of-nowhere show of player support, just as Franchione did Tuesday. In 1998, it was a couple of UT upperclassmen named Kris Clack and Chico Vazquez who called a news conference, stood before the TV cameras and proclaimed their loyalty to their maligned leader. On Tuesday, it was A&M quarterback Stephen McGee who recruited teammates to stand up for Franchione.

Both groups of students had reasons to believe they were making a difference (although skeptics in both cases wondered how many of the student participants were making appearances of their own free will). The Aggies' big turnout prompted A&M officials to move Franchione's weekly media gathering into an auditorium large enough to accommodate the whole team, and Clack and Vazquez were so persuasive, they were able to draw a big crowd to a tiny gym several miles off campus. Presumably, they thought they had the power to save Penders' job.

But when they made their next public appearance a few days later?

They were among the crowd in a large room in UT's athletic building, watching Penders say goodbye after being forced to resign.

That's the way these stories almost always end, but it seems as though college players have to experience it themselves before they believe it. They naively think athletic directors and school presidents and regents and deep-pocketed alumni will consider their feelings when they decide what to do with their coach, when in reality, the opinion of the starting quarterback ranks somewhere between that of a 10-year season ticket holder and the guy who started the "Fire Coach" Web site.

It's not as though other A&M student-athletes haven't learned this before. Aggies basketball players were united behind Melvin Watkins the year he was replaced by Billy Gillispie, and A&M baseball players spoke out in favor of Mark Johnson before he was given a pink slip.

And as for football being a different animal? Consider these words of a fiery A&M quarterback:

"He's our coach," the player said, "and we're going to stand behind him."
That line, which sounds awfully similar to the speeches McGee has been giving about Franchione, was uttered by Dustin Long in November 2002, less than a week before R.C. Slocum was reassigned. If Long could talk to McGee today, he might tell him a college kid can't save a coach's job with words.

He can only do it with touchdowns.

OU tries to bounce back from its loss

After averaging 61.5 points through four games, OU's young offense, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford, seemed puzzled against Colorado.

The Sooners were 1-of-9 on third-down attempts and had only one drive of more than five plays against the Buffs. Colorado ran 82 offensive plays to OU's 46, holding the ball more than 17 minutes longer.

The end result: OU's tired defense couldn't hold a 24-7 lead.

"It was poor planning on my part," Wilson said. "It's my fault as a coach."

Colorado primarily played the same Cover 2 defense the whole game, having a cornerback play tight coverage on OU standout receiver Malcom Kelly at the line of scrimmage and a safety helping deep on Kelly's side of the field.

More often than not, Colorado had six players near the line of scrimmage, but OU couldn't take advantage because it struggled to run the ball.

"There were probably 60 to 70 percent of things that we thought were going to happen, that we were going to get, that never came forward," Wilson said.
In other words, Wilson had OU prepared for multiple defensive schemes but saw mostly one.

"I couldn't look at our guys after the game, couldn't look at them [Monday] in our meetings and say, 'You should have done this,' " Wilson said. "That one was on me and our plan."

Stoops is not a hater: OU coach Bob Stoops was asked Tuesday about a Texas player allegedly saying there is hatred between Texas and Oklahoma. Responded Stoops: "We don't talk about hating anybody."

"I don't believe you need to. I don't think it does a whole lot for you," Stoops said. "I think the Bible says not to hate anyone, but you can sure dislike them a whole lot. That's probably OK."

Bigger goals to attain: Stoops said beating Texas is just a part of the whole picture.

"In the end, we've beaten Texas before and not won the Big 12 championship, and I don't hear anybody congratulating us at the end of the year," Stoops said. "If you beat them and do nothing the rest of the year, that doesn't go around here.

"That might go at some schools where everybody said, 'At least you did that and you're showing improvement,' or whatever, but that doesn't happen here. Winning a championship is what matters."

To NFL Fun, and the popular view is that the Cowboys haven’t played anyone based on the poor record of their opponents. For comparison purposes, here are the 4 NFL unbeatens and their opponents records…

Patriots Opponents Record: 4-12
Packers Opponents Record: 5-11
Colts Opponents Record: 6-8
Cowboys Opponents Record: 3-13

So, yes the Cowboys have the worst mark, but it doesn’t look like any of them have good enough opponents to be given the Lombardi trophy right now. I guess we should keep the season going.

Mickey looks at it all

There are those who want to minimize the Dallas Cowboys' 4-0 start.

There are those who want to minimize Tony Romo's NFC-leading 112.9 QB rating and what's now a 10-4 career starting record.

There are those who want to minimize the Cowboys owning the NFL's No. 1 offense after four weeks and the No. 1 scoring offense.

There are those who want to minimize the Cowboys' defense giving up just one touchdown over the past eight quarters of play.

Now who knows, we can only judge by what we've seen so far, and so far the Cowboys have not only beaten every team the NFL has told them they had to play, but have beaten all four teams convincingly, each by at least a double-digit margin and all by an average of right at 20 points a game.

But when all is said and done in this 2007 season, these Cowboys just might look back to when they were charging past the quarter-pole and think: We were young and we were improvin' . . . .

Because don't look now, but these Cowboys, one of four undefeated teams remaining in the NFL and just one of two in the NFC, have a real chance to start improvin'.

Think about this now: The Cowboys have won four games and their starting left cornerback - arguably their best corner and one of the best in the league - has yet to start a game this season.

The Cowboys have won four games and their veteran outside linebacker thought to be one of the two best pass rushers on the team not only hasn't started a game yet this season, but has only played 15 plays on the nickel defense in one game.

Their starting fullback has missed each of the past two games.

Their best special teams player did not play this past Sunday.

Their starting nose tackle played just one quarter of football before landing on injured reserve.

Now I know, someone out there is saying, cry me a river, every team in the NFL has injury problems. And you're right, they do. But not all can withstand those injury losses. The Cowboys obviously have.

And now, get this: They are starting to get some of these injured guys back, one by one.

Baseball Payrolls Are Fun

Don't tell baseball owners that money can't buy happiness. When the divisional series begin today, they will do so with the two top Opening Day payrolls (New York and Boston) vying for the American League pennant and a World Series title. The Los Angeles Angels have the fifth-highest payroll and they're still alive, as are the Chicago Cubs, who rank eighth in payroll. But money doesn't guarantee success. Just ask the New York Mets, whose third-highest payroll couldn't keep them from making a monumental collapse. So who should bargain hunters be rooting for? There are plenty of choices still alive. The Cleveland Indians take the 23rd-highest payroll into their series against the Yanks. In the National League, the Cubs look like Neiman-Marcus, compared to the teams that resemble mom-and-pop stores. The Arizona Diamondbacks have the best record in the NL, but their payroll of just over $52 million ranks ahead of only Pittsburgh, Washington, Florida and Tampa Bay. Colorado's Opening Day payroll of $54 million puts it just ahead of the Diamondbacks. And for or all of its offense, Philadelphia's payroll ranks 14th. How will the payrolls affect the divisional playoffs? We'll have to wait until next week to see.

Catching up with my main man, John Gesek

John Gesek went from pro football and two Super Bowls to the investment world. He protected Troy Aikman and now he protects people's money.

The former Cowboys right guard, who played on two Super Bowl champions in 1992 and 1993, returned to the area after his playing career was over in 1996 and is an investment advisor in Coppell. Five years ago, he and a partner started their own business.

Gesek was part of the franchise's turnaround in the early 1990s with Jimmy Johnson. He was also part of an offensive line that helped break in future Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith.

This link is crazy, read all of the comments to fully enjoy the craziness

Uncomfortable Kevin Everett News Coverage

Husker Tunnel Walk is cool


Flaco said...

If Brenden Morrow gets hurt again this year, I will never forgive you. Or Dan. Or Donovan. Or Cat. Or the dude in the next cubicle...or whoever.

Take your curse somewhere else Bob!

Jay, Christi and Andrew said...

I'm so pumped about the Stars season! I spent the last two years in Nashville where they had a great team but no one seemed to care. Seems like we might have the opposite. Of course I haven't been able to go in awhile, but that will hopefully change soon.

And that Lloyd family saga in the comments section was maybe the most wheels off thing I've read all year! That is so crazy. I don't know if the family members commenting to each other was more crazy than the life advice from strangers. I'm bookmarking that bad boy.

Jay said...

Bob, listen the stars will start getting good players when we start spending more money at stars games and buy more luxury suites.

That's how you build a good franchise.