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Robidas Out, Klemm In as Stars, Hawks swap D-men

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

November 17, 2003

By J. Douglas Foster

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Losing is not an option.

Not to Stars General Manager Doug Armstrong at least, which he proved Monday morning by making a trade that he hopes jump-starts his team and helps get it out of its current six-game winless streak.

The trade, the first of this season, sent defenseman Stephane Robidas and a second round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for defenseman Jon Klemm and a fourth round pick in the 2004 draft.

In Klemm, the Stars get a 6-foot-2, 200-pound defenseman who was a part of two Stanley Cup champion teams in Colorado. Klemm served as an alternate captain for the Blackhawks each of the last three seasons since signing as a free agent on July 1, 2001.

For his career, Klemm has played in 579 NHL games, registering 122 points (35 goals, 87 assists) to go along with 318 penalty minutes.

Klemm's acquisition, however, wasn't about statistics. It was about solidifying the defensive corps with a veteran player.

"He brings some size and some stability to our defensive corps," Armstrong said. "And he has experience. We needed to shore up our team and starting on defense seemed like a logical place."

In Armstrong's evaluation of recent games, the biggest problem he has seen, he said, is the Stars' inability to get the game's initial lead. Only once in their six-game winless streak (at Boston), have the scored before the opponent, and Armstrong feels that has as much to do with the back end as it does the offensive end.

"We're continually starting in a 1-0 deficit," Armstrong said. "The statistics don't lie. Teams that score first win and teams that lead going into the third period win.

"Starting down 1-0 five minutes into every game is a recipe for being two games under .500."

For Klemm, it's the first time he's been traded in his NHL career, though he is more than familiar with the Dallas Stars.

Being a longtime member of the Colorado Avalanche, he faced the Stars in back-to-back Western Conference Finals during 1999 and 2000. And he learned then that there is plenty to like about his new team.

"I'm coming into an organization that is first class and that is committed to winning," Klemm said. "When I was playing in Colorado we had some pretty good battles in the playoffs, so I know what they are capable of."

Klemm also said there should be no question about what role he will play in Dallas. Hopefully it will be the same role he had on Chicago, where he was more than willing to take on valuable ice time at critical points in the game.

"I'm a defensive defenseman, and I take a lot of pride in that," Klemm said. "My man concern is playing well in our end of the ice. I'm not a real flashy player, I'm just trying to help the team keep our goals against down."

Right wing Scott Young is one player who has personal knowledge of Klemm, considering the two played together in Colorado.

And Klemm, Young said, will be a good fit in Dallas.

"He would be a good fit anywhere," Young said. "He's a smart enough guy with enough hockey sense that they moved him to the wing for a while in Colorado because we were so deep defensively. He's just a real strong player who will fit in anywhere."

His new coach, Stars head coach Dave Tippett, likes what he sees in Klemm as well.

"He's won before, and he's a solid, stay-at-home guy," Tippett said. "He's a very responsible player who makes good decisions with the puck."

Of course, the odd man out in this scenario is Robidas, a man who played very hard and very well during his time in Dallas before being dealt to Chicago.

The message Armstrong wanted to convey was that Robidas was not the reason for the Stars' slide, nor was his trade a reflection of his individual play.

It was simply time to make a move.

"It's important to note that Stephane Robidas wasn't the problem," Armstrong said. "We weren't getting good enough play from players up above. Stephane Robidas is the victim of the play of other players.

"This is an attempt to help shore up our defense, and we feel the players here are capable of pulling us out of this."


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