You know we’re approaching hockey season when Benn & Seguin are getting grilled about their contract situations. The question is, were they really getting grilled? Instead of taking the tweets at surface value like everyone else, I took an hour to listen to the Cam And Strick Podcast episode with Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi so that you don’t have to. My sentiments were a lot different than what the court of public opinion is swirling around right now, and yet the question posed in the subject line of this article remains.
Similar to the jurors of the twittersphere that make up the aforementioned court of public opinion, I bear witness to the landscape of Stars hockey amidst what is supposed to be the dawn of a new era. Another public shaming would indicate that the culture is largely remaining the same; however, reading further into Gaglardi’s words reveals that the resurfacing headline betrays the sentiments behind his message.
Gaglardi Dispute Subject A: The Contracts In Question
Gaglardi and Nill were not wrong to give Jamie and Tyler the money that they’re currently on the books for. We’re quick to forget that the Stars scored more goals in the 2015-2016 season than the rest of the league, as Benn notched his career high in points at 89. Seguin was brought in as a cup winner as part of a trade that, in hindsight, heavily favored the Stars. Seguin’s seasonal offensive output in his first 6 years in victory green is a shade above 77 points per season.
For each of them, the stark drop in offensive output could be directly tied to the defensive approach to the game being implemented when Hitch was brought on. Even this move was calculated, as Gaglardi admits that the Stars weren’t hitting sustainable defensive metrics at the end of the Ruff era. Little did he know how “Ruff” the play of his top forwards would be in the ensuing years.
The end of Bones’ tenure as the bench boss put the Stars leadership (and ownership) at another crossroads to decide on how to approach the next era. After a flurry of instability at the position, Bowness was granted an extended stay just for the sake of continuity and perhaps a reward for the bubble run. The DeBoer hire is one that the team believes will stick and influence a mindset in the opposite direction of the risk mitigation we’ve seen from the team in recent years.
DeBoer, Nill, and now Gaglardi have all echoed the task of “unlocking the offensive potential” of this group. To translate this to what they’re signaling to the fan is that they understand that you pay for points in this league. The system in place was not allowing their top guys to earn those pay days, as evident by the aforementioned downward slope in offensive output. With Deboer at the helm, our big bucks boys will see an uptick (dare I say resumption) of those point totals we’ve seen them capable of in the past.
Gaglardi Contract Dispute Subject B: The Channel of Communication
Tom considers himself to be a hands-off owner when it comes to the decision making. He noted in his dialogue that he certainly does not speak on the matters of personnel and lineups, but he was using this opportunity to stir up some Stars conversation. As a consumer of Stars content, I found it refreshing to hear from Gaglardi on a number of different topics. He presented the information matter-of-factly and described the communication he’s been in with the players he has expectations for.
He even went as far as to say that Jamie was working out differently for the upcoming season. All this to say, Tom certainly didn’t sound like an owner with an axe to grind about how much bang for buck he was getting with the $82.5 million the league has allotted each team. He stated that a quarter of the cap being devoted to two stars was inefficient based on the amount of production that the team was getting from them, which needs to be taken into context.
Gaglardi spoke on his entrepreneurial ventures prior to addressing the cap issue outlined above. With that said, his solution to the problem was not to rehome the two former fan favorites. Instead, his approach is as business-like as you’d expect from a man worth nearly $4 billion. He posed the new coaching system as a solution to the offensive woes that the $20 million in cap space are experiencing currently.
This translates easily to the business world. If you’re not getting enough out of your sales team, refining your product and making it easier for them to sell is a surefire way to get their numbers up. If your offense is floundering by playing on their heels, put them on their toes and become the aggressor. Gaglardi is not changing the play style to make up for what’s largely described as a defecit. He’s creating a new opportunity for the players to maximize their worth.
In summation, Gaglardi wasn’t wrong to do either of the things brought up in this piece. I have no problem watching this teams pay for the talent and track record of its Stars. Especially after watching the Rangers sink $52 million into a guy for punching a villainous figure that was detested by the entire fan base (might be stretching it here). Beyond their decorated past, everyone with eyes on the Stars this year will witness a better Benn and Seguin than we’ve seen in recent history.
Additionally, Gaglardi was not wrong to say what he said on the podcast. He doesn’t speak out often so anything he said would be taken and run with, especially being a collective thought about wasted cap space that everyone is quick to bring up. You also can’t blame the fans for wanting to maximize cap space after seeing Klingberg leave for someone with more cap flexibility. Instead of revisiting an issue that’s been beaten worse than a dead horse, we should be looking forward to the culture shift that will be on full display this upcoming season.
Take a listen for yourself to devise further opinions