You would have thought the Dallas Stars had announced they were moving out of town. Maybe that they had traded Jamie Benn for a bag of pucks to a hated rival. Something huge happened last Monday. The uproar and commotion was massive, and it seemed like the Stars had done something horrible. And maybe they did in the eyes of many of their fans when GM Joe Nieuwendyk traded forward Steve Ott last week.
When the news hit that the team had traded longtime fan favorite Steve Ott to the Buffalo Sabres for center Derek Roy (with Adam Pardy tagging along to Buffalo), the divide was evident. Many figured that moves would be made and things shaken up with new ownership and the handcuffs off GM Joe. Mike Ribeiro being moved wasn’t a big surprise, some argued the return but the principal seemed okay with the masses. But the Stars and Nieuwendyk haven’t seen this sort of backlash from fans since Mike Modano wasn’t brought back and the face of the franchise went to Detroit.While many media members and the hockey “geniuses” of Twitter and the internet tagged it as a good gamble for the Stars, many die-hard and casual fans were ready to riot. Roy has had the numbers to be a top-six forward at times, if not a top-liner for a couple years, but needs to bounce back from a big leg injury two seasons ago and then a rough season last year. But after the Stars held off on moving Ott all last season and seemingly signaled that they were going to keep the multi-tooled veteran, he was moved in a continuing makeover of the roster.
So why did it hurt so much? Why were so many angry over the move? Was it even the right one to make? It took some a week of thinking for things to really start to become clear to me. Argue it if you want, but Steve had become the Dallas Stars. In the last 4-5 years, Otter had become one of the biggest names and instantly thought of players when you mentioned the Dallas Stars. He was one of the final members of the past Stars teams, having played with Modano, Zubov, Lehtinen, and Turco. He was here the last few times the Stars did make the playoffs and had his best year when the Stars made their way to the Western Conference Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. He even was having his name thrown around by fans and others a possible replacement for Brenden Morrow if he was traded and the captaincy became available.
He was the “Pesky Stars” in every sense of the concept. Ott wasn’t the next Mike, and he wasn’t necessarily the next Morrow. But over the last few seasons he made himself valuable and popular as the guy who would do it all on the ice and became one of the team’s biggest names because of that. While Benn might be the future of the franchise, “Otter” was the now of it. Unfortunately for him, the recent/current Stars were not working. Could he have been the next captain? Possibly. Could he have continued to be a contributor for the new Stars moving forward? I don’t doubt it. But with things not really working recently in Dallas, management was willing and ready to shake things up this season. And while fans might have been open to other names leaving town, Ott had value and the team must have felt that going forward with the new look that Roy could be a big addition.
Sure only time will tell what happens to both forwards. I know most Stars fans wouldn’t mind Ott pulling a Darryl Sydor and showing back up in town down the road. But right now the new, “more talented” Stars need to bring something to the ice to bring buzz back to the franchise. GM Joe and management think they have done so by adding Roy, Ray Whitney, and Jaromir Jagr. But until fans see something on the actual ice, many are still dealing with the bad taste in their mouth after this last move. And I for one can share in their disappointment that #29 won’t be on the ice nightly in Dallas anymore.