Last week, Bob Sturm held an interview with Stars Owner Tom Gaglardi and President Jim Lites and the fallout should have Stars fans very, very confident. In case you missed it, Sturm has a full write up over at his Fox Sports Southwest Blog, so make sure to check that out. Jim Lites, hired by Gaglardi to return to his former role with the Stars, made the most revealing (and dangerously exciting) comment of the interview.
“We are without budget…as crazy as that sounds. We are restricted by only the CBA and fitting long and short term into that system. This is a different situation than we have been in for the last four seasons, which is we have an owner who is willing to spend and not being run by the league. We are prepared to spend what we need to spend.” – Jim Lites
That one line, “we are without budget”, is probably just what Stars fans wanted, and maybe needed, to here. When Joe Nieuwendyk took over the General Manager job in the summer of 2009, Stars fans were cautiously optimistic after a disappointing 2008-2009 season that saw the team miss the playoffs after a surprise Western Conference Finals run. Unfortunately we all know the story. The ownership problems persisted and only grew worse and here we are, in May of 2012, still without a playoff appearance from the Stars. Nieuwendyk has been unable to attract the right free agents to round out the team and trades for Kari Lehtonen and Alex Goligoski, while important, weren’t enough to put the Stars over the edge. But now the Stars are being led by fearless Owner Tom Gaglardi along with President Jim Lites. The executives are ready to give Joe Nieuwendyk the resources needed to compete.
The upcoming offseason for the Stars is the most crucial in recent memory. Five years without a playoff appearance would be absolutely disastrous and would certainly have far reaching consequences across the organization. With big name free agents in the form of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, an important draft, and franchise names on the trading block (Rick Nash, Roberto Luongo), all 30 teams have holes to fill and the stakes couldn’t be higher. For the Stars, free agent speculation is natural, but this isn’t the place. What is known is that Lites and Gaglardi are ready to make big offers and do what needs to be done to get this team back on top. It could come in the form of signings, trades, or moves in the draft. No one knows what’s going to happen but it’s one hell of a prospect for Stars fans who have been in limbo for almost half a decade.