December 06, 2003

Best Buy Poll Center for NHL

Voting is being conducted by electronic ballot on the league's Web site (, through broadband kiosks at 580 Best Buy locations

December 06, 2003 06:08

Coach, general manager blast falling Stars

By Mac Engel

SAN JOSE, Calif. _ The Dallas Stars were so bad Thursday that coach Dave Tippett actually allowed himself to get angry in front of a microphone.

The Stars were so bad Thursday that general manager Doug Armstrong allowed himself to get angry over the telephone.

Their message was simple: The Stars' big-money skill players continue to underperform. Their case was made during Thursday's 3-0 defeat against the Kings in Los Angeles.

"We have highly skilled people that are paid to make plays and we expect them to do that, and they aren't getting it done," Tippett said after the game in his first public tongue-lashing of his team. "This was about our skill players not (being) willing to play hard enough to make their skill effective. This was about making mistakes that end up in the back of your net. Let's call a spade a spade: Our skill players, five-on-five and on the power play, created very little."

And ...

"We've got high-end skill players that have to be difference-makers in the game, and they aren't even close right now," Tippett said.

Armstrong was equally critical of a team that is one game under .500 despite a $67 million payroll, the NHL's third-largest.

"(Thursday) was a prime example of hard work beating skill every time," said Armstrong, who is in Florida scouting. "Until the skill players are willing to commit to their teammates, it won't happen. ... If problems were there (last season), our goaltender (Marty Turco) solved a lot of them. Our goaltender is part of the problem. Last year, he was part of the solution.

"When you couple our goals-against average and our team's save percentage with ... the way our top players are underachieving ... Those are the players who have salaries that dictate they can make a difference, game in and game out. We're hard-pressed to say Rob DiMaio isn't doing everything he can to give us a chance to win."

The names are easy to figure out.

Mike Modano.

Bill Guerin.

Sergei Zubov.

Marty Turco.

"(Tippett) is right," Guerin said. "I hate to say it, but we are relied on and we have a responsibility to do certain things and bring certain things to the game. We looked like we've never played the game before.

"With our responsibility, it's unacceptable."

But it's becoming normal.

After the game, the Stars had their third closed-door meeting this season.

That's three in 25 games.

"That's too many," Guerin said.

Tippett also admitted that he's used what he calls a "mulligan." That is, the chance to openly rip his team. He gives himself three a year, and said Thursday he's used two already.

"A lot of weight comes on our shoulders. We have other guys too, and we need contribution from everybody," Modano said. "I've always been a point-a-game guy, so are we asking for three or four now? That's not going to happen. We need scoring from everybody.

"It's clear as day what the situation is. You don't need to stand up and try to explain it."

The explanation is right now is that the Stars' best players aren't their best players.ALL-STAR STARS?Bill Guerin ranks fifth in the voting for Western Conference wingers in the NHL All-Star balloting and Jere Lehtinen is 12th. Mike Modano is second among centers behind Colorado's Peter Forsberg. Marty Turco is second among goalies behind Vancouver's Dan Cloutier. Sergei Zubov is sixth among defensemen.

The NHL All-Star balloting will continue through December 31.

Voting is being conducted by electronic ballot on the league's Web site (, through broadband kiosks at 580 Best Buy locations in the United States, via paper ballots at all 30 NHL arenas and, for the first time, via Nextel phones in the U.S.

The All-Star Game is scheduled for February 8 in St. Paul, Minn.BRIEFLYThe Stars took forward Pierre Turgeon off the injured list Friday. They sent wing Rob Valicevic down to minor league Utah to clear a roster spot. ...

Coach Dave Tippett said injured center Jason Arnott (sore groin) might skate today but said no immediate plans are in place to have him rejoin the team. ...

With games on back-to-back nights, Tippett said backup goalie Ron Tugnutt could start tonight. The start would be his second of the season.


(c) 2003, Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Visit the Star-Telegram on the World Wide Web at

Posted by Craig at December 6, 2003 03:14 PM