In two days the NHL Trade deadline will have come and gone. In four weeks the 2013 Regular Season will have exhausted itself. Which date will have a larger impact on the future of the Dallas Stars?
Big philosophical question, eh. Well here are a bunch more to ponder, debate and spitball:
Should the Stars move their soon to be unrestricted free agents at the deadline?
Should they be looking to add a piece or two at the deadline?
Are there 'untouchables' on the current roster? In the system?
With the Cap retreating to $64.3M from $70.2M for next season should they be opening up space to allow them to take other team's Cap 'problems' off their hands?
Would the wise thing be to trade assets, play the youth and finish with a top three to five draft pick this summer?
Is making the playoffs a must from a season ticket, business, bottom line perspective?
What is the most pressing need to fill in order to be jockeying for home ice advantage in future rather than 7th or 8th?
What path, personnel changes, and degree of patience puts this franchise on a trajectory to sustained greatness again?
What is the identity the team/franchise desires?
I could fill pages with such questions, but the real importance is the answers.
"One idiot can ask more questions than ten wise men can answer"
When I look at the current state of the Stars it appears to be one of transition and ambiguity - one that could use a clear, distinct mission statement. Is it a youth movement with a core of players in their early 20s that will be the foundation of a championship team in the next 5 or 6 years? Is it to be a rare mix of 40 and 20 year olds working the schedule from both ends? Or is it a roster that will have its youth harvested by others in order to build a veteran team that can win in shorter order? Or, is it something else?
"A goal without a plan is just a wish"
Right now they are this: A team led by an antiquity offense (Jagr and Whitney) and platinum netminding (Lehtonen). They succeed through great individual performances but not with any real consistency. Other than that they are a very difficult team to categorize.
Having spent almost two decades embedded in Dallas Stars life (And having thoroughly enjoyed the journey/education along the way) I have come to believe this: To be successful in Dallas the franchise has to aim high, build toward clear and publicly stated championship aspirations, and do so with an entertaining and believable brand of hockey.
Yes it's true that for an individual, or group of individuals, to say such things opens the window for criticism and accountability reviews, but the best way to achieve dreams is to tell someone what those dreams are - it casts them. I dream of a second Cup in Big D, I bet you do too. I bet others do as well.
"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing"
So maybe as a franchise we need to shout from the top of the Reunion Tower Observation Deck that we desire a second Stanley Cup, that that is the goal, and that all will work tirelessly to achieve it. It might take some time but maybe by doing that a suddenly illusive playoff birth might again become habitual and expected, because just like my daughter's high jumping aspirations; the higher the bar is set, the easier it is to clear heights once perceived as unattainable below it.
"To be successful, you must decide exactly what you want to accomplish, then resolve to pay the price to get it."
I want to see us mark off our steps, visualize, knock the bar off a few times trying...and then clear the bastard, again!