Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Live from San Jose

It is Tuesday morning. I am in San Jose with the bruised and battered Dallas Stars. They look up for the game tonight, but honestly, the optimism on the periphery is not at an all-time high.

These last 5 games have not helped the “Believe” in many of us who follow this team. They look like a team that has gone through too much this season and now the odds seem stacked pretty desperately against them. Injuries have continue to chop off the legs of the squad, and the more players have tried to pick up the slack, the more they have tried to do too much which have resulted in mistakes behind them.

Regardless, the schedule doesn’t wait for you to feel better. San Jose tonight, Los Angeles on Thursday, and Anaheim on Friday represent another grueling week of divisional foes for the Stars to try and get results. The clarity of the urgency is obvious. This team needs results, and they need them now.

A few emails?

With all the problems lately, you think it's time to see what Jamie Benn can bring to the table?

The 19 year old Benn is having another dynamic year in the WHL with Kelowna, as he is at 39 goals and counting. But, he is just 19. And he is likely not someone to bring into the meat-grinder of the NHL stretch run right now. You want to put him in a position to succeed and that would not be the big-leagues right now.


Since you are going to be up close and personal with the Stars this week, I was wondering if you could help me figure something out. I would love to know why Ott didn't receive any help from his teammates. I mean I was extremely upset, but I can't even imagine how Ott felt. Knowing that he (along with his linemates) has been carrying this team on his shoulders, and to have none of them step in to help when he got jumped by Moen had to hurt. Why didn't anybody (officials are included) try to prevent this from happening? He has a broken hand for pete's sake! He can't properly defend himself, and his mates were just standing around watching. Though I know Brenden can't be replaced but Ott is trying to do the job that Brenden would be doing if he were in the lineup. What would the guys on the ice have done if it were their captain getting jumped, knowing that he wasn't able to defend himself? I am really upset at this team for various reasons, but this was the icing on the cake for me (not that the past 5 games couldn't have been). I would love to know what his teammates responses would be if you presented the question to them.



I won’t lie, Chelsea. I feel the same way in many of your thoughts. I thought that was not a good sign from his mates, and although you could make the case that A) they saw the clock go to 0:00 for the 4th consecutive game and were not aware Ott was being pummeled but rather exhausted and disappointed that they did not find the game tying goal; and B) the guys on the ice were not the Hansen brothers. Modano, Ribeiro, and Lehtinen (I believe those were the other forwards on the ice) are not known for their fists.

Either way, both of those excuses are not fully acceptable as all you want those other players to do is tie up the opponent – not fight them. Just make sure that Ott isn’t being pounded by all the Ducks at the same time.

Then on Sunday, Malkin ran Sydor, and nobody seemed too angry at Malkin. I also felt that was a bad thing to let happen.

It is one thing to lose, but you cannot go quietly into the night. Trevor Daley took a fight to defend Loui Eriksson on Saturday, and good for him. But, for the most part, the Stars, while exhausted, need to get back to the pack mentality as soon as possible. It looked at times this past weekend that the “Fight” in their game was gone. And I am not talking about literal fights – I am talking about not allowing anyone an inch to physically take liberties with teammates. That cannot be allowed to happen.

I don’t believe there is any one deal that would right this team. We need a suitable Zubov replacement (I know there is not real replacement) and a forward. I can’t see Hicks working out one deal much less to. We may be very surprised. Unless Richards and Morrow suddenly have extraordinary recoveries, or Hicks makes the aforementioned deal(s), the Stars will probably miss the playoffs.
I just don’t see Hicks making any significant moves. I have not heard a lot of buzz about the Stars making any trades either, but I could be completely wrong. Here is the big question who would you trade? Eriksson, Ott, Neal?? Those three are untouchable in my eyes. Maybe someone out there is willing to take picks and some prospects, I just don’t see that happening.

When Smyth was a free agent I was praying he came here. How bad do you think Colorado wants to dump his salary? I think he would be a good fit, but does he really want out of Colorado? If he waives his trade clause and gets traded will he cry again???



Kirk, I don’t think a trade is going to happen. I just don’t see a move that improves this team dramatically enough to be worth parting with a future asset. Picks and prospects are valuable, and the Stars have done a nice job of building the “next wave” of studs here. If you can get Bouwmeester or Gaborik then we can talk about picks and prospects (but then cap room is a major issue to do their extensions), but for rental players (Guerin, Smyth, Tkachuk) just isn’t prudent in my opinion. This team is in good shape in 2009-10 as their nucleus is still quite strong when healthy. But for the 2009 playoffs? I am not sure there is a move right now that saves them.

The Stars play a Sharks team that has lost 2 regulation home games all season. They have 3 road games in California, and they must figure out how to get 3 points this week. Otherwise, this thing may have run out of gas.

Hope for the best. Get em’ Marty.

By the way, here is the Stars history when they allow our radio show to join them on the road....

2/14/04 At Pho L 3-2
2/16/04 At Ana L 1-3
2/18/04 At LA W 4-3

3/5/06 At Chi W 7-2
3/7/06 At Edm W 4-3
3/9/06 At Cal L 1-0
3/11/06 At Van W 2-1

3/21/07 At LA W 4-2
3/23/07 At Ana OTL 3-2
3/24/07 At Pho W 4-3

3/27/08 at SJ OTL 3-2
3/29/08 at LA W 7-2
3/30/08 at Ana OTL 3-2

7-3-3 so far....


Great NBA reading – Michael Lewis on Shane Battier …long and great:

There is a tension, peculiar to basketball, between the interests of the team and the interests of the individual. The game continually tempts the people who play it to do things that are not in the interest of the group. On the baseball field, it would be hard for a player to sacrifice his team’s interest for his own. Baseball is an individual sport masquerading as a team one: by doing what’s best for himself, the player nearly always also does what is best for his team. “There is no way to selfishly get across home plate,” as Morey puts it. “If instead of there being a lineup, I could muscle my way to the plate and hit every single time and damage the efficiency of the team — that would be the analogy. Manny Ramirez can’t take at-bats away from David Ortiz. We had a point guard in Boston who refused to pass the ball to a certain guy.” In football the coach has so much control over who gets the ball that selfishness winds up being self-defeating. The players most famous for being selfish — the Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver Terrell Owens, for instance — are usually not so much selfish as attention seeking. Their sins tend to occur off the field.

It is in basketball where the problems are most likely to be in the game — where the player, in his play, faces choices between maximizing his own perceived self-interest and winning. The choices are sufficiently complex that there is a fair chance he doesn’t fully grasp that he is making them.

Taking a bad shot when you don’t need to is only the most obvious example. A point
guard might selfishly give up an open shot for an assist. You can see it happen every night, when he’s racing down court for an open layup, and instead of taking it, he passes it back to a trailing teammate. The teammate usually finishes with some sensational dunk, but the likelihood of scoring nevertheless declined. “The marginal assist is worth more money to the point guard than the marginal point,” Morey says. Blocked shots — they look great, but unless you secure the ball afterward, you haven’t helped your team all that much. Players love the spectacle of a ball being swatted into the fifth row, and it becomes a matter of personal indifference that the other team still gets the ball back. Dikembe Mutombo, Houston’s 42-year-old backup center, famous for blocking shots, “has always been the best in the league in the recovery of the ball after his block,” says Morey, as he begins to make a case for Mutombo’s unselfishness before he stops and laughs. “But even to Dikembe there’s a selfish component. He made his name by doing the finger wag.” The finger wag: Mutombo swats the ball, grabs it, holds it against his hip and wags his finger at the opponent. Not in my house! “And if he doesn’t catch the ball,” Morey says, “he can’t do the finger wag. And he loves the finger wag.” His team of course would be better off if Mutombo didn’t hold onto the ball long enough to do his finger wag. “We’ve had to yell at him: start the break, start the break — then do your finger wag!”

When I ask Morey if he can think of any basketball statistic that can’t benefit a player at the expense of his team, he has to think hard. “Offensive rebounding,” he says, then reverses himself. “But even that can be counterproductive to the team if your job is to get back on defense.” It turns out there is no statistic that a basketball player accumulates that cannot be amassed selfishly. “We think about this deeply whenever we’re talking about contractual incentives,” he says. “We don’t want to incent a guy to do things that hurt the team” — and the amazing thing about basketball is how easy this is to do. “They all maximize what they think they’re being paid for,” he says. He laughs. “It’s a tough environment for a player now because you have a lot of teams starting to think differently. They’ve got to rethink how they’re getting paid.”

Having watched Battier play for the past two and a half years, Morey has come to think of him as an exception: the most abnormally unselfish basketball player he has ever seen. Or rather, the player who seems one step ahead of the analysts, helping the team in all sorts of subtle, hard-to-measure ways that appear to violate his own personal interests. “Our last coach dragged him into a meeting and told him he needed to shoot more,” Morey says. “I’m not sure that that ever happened.” Last season when the Rockets played the San Antonio Spurs Battier was assigned to guard their most dangerous scorer, Manu Ginóbili. Ginóbili comes off the bench, however, and his minutes are not in sync with the minutes of a starter like Battier. Battier privately went to Coach Rick Adelman and told him to bench him and bring him in when Ginóbili entered the game. “No one in the N.B.A. does that,” Morey says. “No one says put me on the bench so I can guard their best scorer all the time.”

Kirwan’s mock draft

Maurice Clarett has a blog?

Albert Haynesworth makes way more money than you

Star Wars dork …bigger than me!

Suns Gorilla is assualted

Beckham Lizard

1 comment:

Nhopkins said...

Hi Fruitwater,

Will we see you behind the bench this trip?

Please tell Dan "Happy B'day"