Dallas Stars: Players Only

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Rick Bowness.”

“G, this is a players-only meeting.”

Terrible half-finished knock-knock jokes aside, the Dallas Stars had a players-only meeting after the 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on November 10. Media members waited 30 minutes to speak with the team and then only had a 29 second exchange with head coach Rick Bowness.

Bowness repeats a few phrases in that short media exchange. We’ll find out. I know exactly what’s wrong. We’ll fix it. If it was so simple, why haven’t the Dallas Stars won a game in regulation yet? Why are they 29th in the league in scoring at 2.17 goals per game when they have a fully healthy roster? Why are they 31st in time leading? And why have the same issues from the beginning of the season persisted till now? There is no one clear answer, but these questions and more will be looked at in a subsequent article.

Roope Hintz emphasized twice in his media that night that whatever was talked about in the meeting postgame “stays there with the boys.” Jason Robertson spoke about the veteran leadership of the room and the resilience of them. Braden Holtby was a calm presence as ever, taking responsibility for his own play and said, “our job is to find a way to turn that around.” The team seemed united and the players-only meeting really showcased that.

So, what now? After Bowness’ short media, the Stars put Tanner Kero and Blake Comeau on waivers on November 11. While both players typically were on the fourth line, Comeau going on waivers is particularly significant. He is an alternate captain on this team. He was put on waivers the day after the players-only meeting. Bowness frequently praised Comeau and preferred playing him over younger players and he was an ideal fit for the Stars system under Rick Bowness. So perhaps this could be a sign of change in the system. Or, this is a warning sign to the players. Stars general manager Jim Nill was asked about Bowness’ job security, and the following was his response:

Bowness is the fourth head coach under Nill, and if he is fired it’s not a stretch to think that Nill’s job is also on the line.

There are a few options to bring up from the AHL once Comeau and Kero clear waivers. Riley Tufte has already been called up. He has had a strong showing from his training camp, rookie tournament, and preseason. He can fill the position that Comeau plays with more offensive ability. Jacob Peterson played the first six games of the season in the NHL, scoring one goal in his debut. He is an option to bring up as he has continued to play well in the AHL, recording five points in six games. Ty Dellandrea and Nicholas Caamano have both seen NHL time before and are names to keep an eye on.

Thomas Harley was sent down to the AHL as Tufte was brought up. It’s unfortunate to see him go as he was playing so well with Miro Heiskanen. Harley’s defensive game has definitely improved which is something he said that he focused on. Given the number of defensemen available to the Stars, it’s better for Harley to continue to get high minutes with power play duties in the AHL rather than play third line minutes in the NHL. Nevertheless, his play and development are exciting and hopefully he makes more appearances this season.

The Stars have made important moves both within the roster and publicly to the media. They have won just one game in their last seven. If they do not start winning games, and winning games decisively, more changes surely will follow.  

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