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Hey Heika: Which legend's number should be retired next?

DallasStars.com's Mike Heika answers Twitter questions from fans in his latest mailbag

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

With no games for a couple days, it seems like a good time to delve into the questions that are vexing you, the fan, and by proxy, your team, the Dallas Stars.

Let's attack these issues with the relentless that Jim Montgomery expects:

 

Tweet from @bigbluearm: #HeyHeika Do you think the Stars will release a third Jersey this year? Do you think they will be black to represent the jerseys from the year we won the Cup?

Mike Heika: No, not this year. I think the Stars will wait until they are part of one of the outdoor games, either here or elsewhere, and that's probably a little ways off. As for color, that will be a vibrant discussion. I've had a hankering for North Stars throwbacks, but you definitely could do something themed on 1993 or 1999. That would be a classic look and still keep the focus on Dallas. I'm also a huge fan of the logo on the Stars' current pants and think that might be a nice centerpiece for the alternate sweater (or uniform).

 

Tweet from @guyinahumansuit: Can you explain the #Bang guy we people not from Dallas see on all the highlight packages? Is he.......ok? #heyheika

Heika: He is a dedicated fan who paid big money to sit on the glass, so he could bang the glass when there was a big play or big moment. However, his bangs annoyed fans around him and the television broadcast, which has mics on the glass, so he was asked to stop. He then started using the "BANG" sign to show his enthusiasm. I believe that's how the story goes.

 

Tweet from @Buhlahkayy: #heyheika It seems Honka has been playing surprisingly sloppy lately. I know we are struggling with injuries, especially with D men, but do you think it���s time to send Honka down and see if somebody else is willing to step up?

Heika: Julius Honka requires waivers, so an attempt to send him to the minors would probably get him picked up by another team, but the question opens an interesting discussion. This is an interesting time in the development of a key player. Honka is a first-round draft pick, so he is going to get every chance to succeed. The organization is invested in him, and they believe in his talent. It's a battle between philosophies and one that rages in fan debate quite a bit.

The Stars sat Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth in favor of Jordie Benn and Jyrki Jokipakka because it appeared Benn and Jokipakka could help win games at the time. That hurt the development of Oleksiak and Nemeth (and all four are now out of the organization). Now, they are choosing to live with Honka's mistakes in hopes of aiding his development, and yet there are some who don't like that path.

It's a hard life trying to make decisions in the NHL, and only the future will give use the evidence we need to see who is right.

 

Tweet from @KitchenKC: #HeyHeika, I'm going totally off the radar here & wondering if they've ever tried Honka up on RW. The guy is clearly gifted with the puck, but makes too many mistakes defensively. Obviously now with the injuries, it's not happening, but if everyone was healthy? Thinking outloud.

Heika: I don't think they will ever do that. There have been defensemen like Brent Burns or Dustin Byfuglien who have dabbled at forward, but they almost always return to defense because defensemen have more value to a team. My guess is if they don't feel Honka will work out as a defenseman on the Stars, they would simply use him as an asset in a trade. That would be a simpler solution.

 

Tweet from @JL_Intramural: #heyheika now that he���s back, do you expect Bayreuther to be pulled up soon, or do Gleason/Hanley stay up? Do they take Texas��� interests into account when making these decisions?

Heika: I do think there is a good chance you could see Gavin Bayreuther. He was very impressive in training camp, and the coaches have a lot of confidence in what he can do. He has played well in his return from his injury, and there is a good chance he is in the lineup Friday against Boston. As much as they want to do everything they can to help the Texas Stars, they are focused first on getting wins at the NHL level.

 

Tweet from @cbarnard82: #heyheika one player no one seems to talk about for the Stars to acquire is Eberle. More realistic than Panarin or Duchene, IMO. And- perhaps the Stars could swap a struggling prospect for Ho Sang as an addon! Thoughts?

Heika: While I like that you are always thinking of ways to improve the Stars, I fear I have bad news. This recent run of injuries has pretty much eaten up any cap space the Stars might have had. And while the team is dealing with all sorts of injuries to all sorts of expensive players (Marc Methot at $4.9 million, Martin Hanzal at $4.75 million, Stephen Johns at $2.35 million), they will get no help from "Long-Term Injury" because all three are expected to play at some point this year.

To acquire any of the players that might be out there, the Stars are going to have to clear out some salary, and I'm not sure how possible that is. In addition to a team wanting young players or draft picks for the player they have, they would also want young players and draft picks to take on your salary. That seems a very high cost to add one player right now.

We'll see what happens, but this run of injuries could mean the Stars are out of the market to acquire any significant forward.

 

Tweet from @saxbrack: Who���s the next Star to get their number retired ? Morrow? #heyheika

Heika: I think hands down it is Sergei Zubov. Not only is he a potential Hall-of-Famer, he ranks first in franchise history among defensemen in games played (839), goals (111), assists (438) and points (549). He is one of the most important players in Minnesota/Dallas history.

I like Brenden Morrow and feel he had a nice impact during his era, but I almost think you could say Marty Turco might have been a bigger player during that stretch. I just think it's Sergei Zubov far ahead of everybody else when it comes to retired number talk.

 

Tweet from @CodyMarcom: Faksa is a great defensive center but he's being paired up with other defensive players to create a "shutdown forward line" with no offense (6th worst xGF)Would you like to see Faksa playing with offensive wingers? (Faksa/Hemsky) This team was best when all 4 lines could score.

Heika: It was my feeling before last season that you could make Radek Faksa a No. 2 center in the mold of Ryan Kesler or Jordan Staal, so I see where you are going with this. The problem is who do you play with Jason Spezza? I just don't think the Stars have enough offensive wingers to pull off that trick right now. What they need is for players like Janmark, Nichushkin, Dickinson and Shore to find their offensive game. If that happens, both Spezza and Faksa will be better centers.

 

Tweet from @rbwentert2: WHY DID YOU LEAVE THE DMN?

Heika: The opportunity to work with the Stars was too good to pass up. They have the resources to produce incredible coverage of the team, and the fact that anyone can read the website content for free dramatically increases the eyeballs that get to see my stories. This really gives me an opportunity to interact with even more fans, and that's a big reason I do what I do.

 

Tweet from @jtraviss09: The Stars have looked out of sync, missed passes, passes to no one... Is Monty adding new wrinkles or is this regression?

Heika: He is trying to move forward in the implementation of his "system," but the rash of injuries is making that more difficult. Thus, the plan right now is to simplify things, and that will slow the education of the team. To do what Jim Montgomery wants to do, he needs players to be in sync and to do things automatically, and that's been difficult in recent games. We'll see if they find a compromise after these three days without a game.

 

Tweet from @dwinkler1234: Hey Mike, any word on Stephen Johns? Also seems like we are in for a rough patch once teams figure out how to deal with our patch work defense.

Heika: He doesn't seem to be making any progress right now. The Stars want him to feel normal, and every time he has gotten close to that, he has had a setback. They will wait until he gets past all of this rather than risk him returning early.

 

Tweet from @gohonks: #heyheika what is your opinion on the new goalie equipment rules?

Heika: As an old-school guy, I wanted to tell them to suck it up and deal with it when they complained of the bruising or injury risk caused by the tighter-fitting equipment, but I'm starting to see their side now.

Stick technology has increased the speed of shots, so you need to protect the health of the goalies. And while I agree that more goals does make the game more exciting for the fans, I think great saves also make the game exciting. I feel that the style of play being embraced by coaches, and the speed of the young athletes, should be able to increase scoring in a more organic fashion.

Let the goalies have their protection, it's a tough job.

 

Tweet from @JQMoney: Why does Montgomery continue to play Ritchie over Gemel when Gemel is truly the far better player? And why is Gurianov still in the AHL? He showed in his 3 games that he belongs in the NHL. I don���t want to hear waiver BS. The best team should be iced. #heyheika

Heika: I still think the aspect of size and physicality are things Jim Montgomery wants in his lineup. I also think salary cap and roster size are things that make it difficult for a player like Denis Gurianov to stick in the NHL. That's just the reality of the NHL as a business.

You are right: If they wanted to, the Stars could keep Gurianov and send Ritchie to the minors (risking losing him on waivers), but they are choosing to not do that. They also could try to trade Ritchie to open a spot for Gurianov. They are choosing to not do that.

Your way would be more risky. They are choosing to play it safe. We'll see how it works out.

 

Tweet from @gtopjon: Are we good? I���m still not sure.

Heika: It's a great question. Like a lot of teams in the NHL, they are unfinished. They are trying to learn how to play this new style and also trying to get healthy. If they eventually get healthy and are still hanging around a playoff spot, they could be great. In that scenario, they could peak at the end of the season, and roar into the playoffs. But if the injuries prove burdensome and the team never really gets in sync, there is a chance for a bad ending.

I would have told you on March 9 when the Stars were 38-24-6, that this team was "good." I would have been wrong. That is the peril of putting your emotion behind a professional sports team.

 

Tweet from @Scorpio1998: #HeyHeika I get Heiskanen has and is stepping up with Klingberg out. Who do you think would be best paired with him and why?

Heika: In both a good way and a bad way, Miro Heiskanen is going to play with everybody. He is so good, he is going to get the most minutes. That means he likely will see a lot of time with Esa Lindell, and I think they are a good match because Heiskanen can play either the right or left side.

I also don't mind him with Roman Polak, so my guess is those two will be his main partners while the current defensemen are out of the lineup.

 

Tweet from @BubbaJack8: #heyheika why the 3rd period woes?

Heika: Like the road issues, it is mental. Like the road issues, they are aware and are working on improving play in the third period. They fixed the road issues, so my guess is they will be able to improve their third period play.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.

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