Stars GM Jim Nill addressed the media for the first time since the team returned from the Edmonton bubble last week. After fighting all the way to game six of the Stanley Cup Final, the Stars roster was dealing with an insane amount of injuries and most of them very severe. Injuries weren’t the only thing addressed on Thursday, as Nill commented on the pending free agency of Anton Khudobin and the future of Rick Bowness behind the bench.
Our Stars staff got together to talk about what was revealed this afternoon.
While injuries are expected to mount during a playoff run, which injury we learned today surprised you the most?
Dylan Duell: Obviously it wasn’t surprising to hear about a Ben Bishop injury since the team’s number one goalie didn’t start a game past game five in the second round, but it was a shock that his problems staying on the ice were caused by a surgery back in May. Bishop reportedly wanted to have surgery earlier in the pandemic stoppage, but wasn’t able to go under the knife until more hospitals were open in May. The fact that the team played it so close to the vest and made it seem like he was possibly going to be able to go right from the start of the restart may not surprise some, but it certainly did make me go “huh?”
Garrett Jones: Roope Hintz’s residual toughness and willingness to play through injury is incredible. He ended up missing the last two games of the Stanley Cup Final, but time and again when he left in the early postseason rounds, he popped right back out of the dressing room and was a plus offensive player for the Stars. The severity of his injuries are the most surprising thing. It took a fractured ankle (!!!) to finally keep him out. Despite playing on an injured hip, he was a huge boost for Dallas skating on the second and third line. To be fair to Hintz, however- this isn’t exactly new- he played game seven of the second round loss to St. Louis on a fractured foot in 2019.
Whose performance with an injury impresses you the most?
Dylan: I’m going to go with the captain, Jamie Benn. While everyone was questioning his level of play over the last few regular seasons, he certainly stepped up in the postseason and played up to the “C” on his sweater. Benn was tied with Joe Pavelski for third most points on the team in the postseason and had plenty of timely goals and big-time plays as a leader that don’t show up in the box score. The fact that his play seemed to pick up while battling an injury certainly tells me that he was willing to fight through absolutely anything to help this team reach its goals.
Garrett: This is going to be an unpopular pick, but i’m going with Tyler Seguin. Jamie Benn’s long-time running mate slugged through a torn labrum and hip injury in the postseason, which, upon examining his production from August-early September, makes sense. He definitely put it together late in the Stanley Cup Final, but drew a lot of criticism for a long scoreless streak in the conference finals. The part that impresses me, and frankly, is a relief- is that he didn’t miss a single game throughout the postseason. Some were quick to question his passion due to the lack of production, but it’s clear he still desires to win, and perhaps a long, unique offseason will help him fully recover and return to the form that earned him in All-Star appearance before the COVID pandemic.
What are your thoughts on Nill’s at least verbal commitment to retaining Rick Bowness as the head coach?
Dylan: I’m a little conflicted. Obviously, it’s hard to argue for a coaching change after a team makes it all the way to game six of the Stanley Cup Final, but I just really feel like the Stars need to find an absolute long-term option for their head coach. At 65, I’m not totally sure that’s Bowness. While a coach’s leash in the NHL doesn’t seem to be more than a year or two, I still think Dallas should look into a younger innovative mind who’s ready to grow with the young core led by Miro Heiskanen, Roope Hintz and Denis Guirianov. I would think franchise cornerstones Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a face who’s committed here for the long haul and don’t want to see another coaching change anytime soon. Find the right guy and ride with him. Maybe that’s Bowness? I’m just not totally sure.
Garrett: It’s well deserved. No one can say that Bowness didn’t pass his audition in the interim role after Jim Montgomery’s firing in December, shoring up Dallas’ identity as a gritty defensive unit, riding the ebbs and flows of the COVID-19 pause, and adapting the Stars to winning ways at the bubble in Edmonton. Bowness is still the oldest active coach in the NHL at age 65, but also boasts the most composite wins in the league. Former Florida and Vegas coach Gerard Gallant is still the most attractive long-term candidate, but Dallas could use Bowness as bridge for the 2020-21 season and bring on a younger coach afterwards. One thing’s for sure- he has his players’ respect. Joe Pavelski was the first to shake his hand after the Stars’ Western Conference clinch, and players routinely lauded him for his leadership throughout the storybook run.
"The only real player that will not be available will be Tyler Seguin if we start January 1st."
🎥 GM Jim Nill provides a full update on the team's injuries following the season pic.twitter.com/Ce8zD5b45I
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) October 8, 2020
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