2/26/19 – Of Course Jim Nill Deserves Blame

Mats Zuccarello getting hurt less than one game into his Dallas Stars tenure is a fairly cruel break for a franchise desperately in need of at least a playoff berth. He was everything the Stars could have hoped he would be, and legitimately made everyone around him significantly better. That includes Alex Radulov and Tyler Seguin. His ability to create space for himself and others combined with his skating ability were just lovely.

Sorry, I need to stop. I’m getting the vapors.

Zuccarello breaking his arm blocking a shot so quickly into his tenure is a bit of irony I didn’t really need in my life. The timing was cruel, but the offensively gifted player they brought in to help fix the offense getting hurt on a defensive play is just a little too on the nose for my liking.

The move brought out some Adult Emotions for many fans, and some takes that are questionable at best. I can usually ignore Bad Takes (unless they are exceptionally poorly written in a Fort Worth Star Telegram column). This one though…I can’t.

Absolutely not.

Zuccarello getting hurt is a tough reality for the Stars to face, but they absolutely do not get to be let off of the hook because a move they waited until February to make didn’t pan out in the most cruel way possible. They chose to not do anything significant about the roster until after they Jim Lites called Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin fucking horseshit. They made the decision to say this roster was fine in July.

Blake Comeau, Roman Polak, and Val Nichushkin were the big prizes in the off season. Comeau is a fine depth player, of which the Stars had many. Polak is objectively the least successful player on the roster despite still having minutes shoveled his way.

At no point was Nichushkin ever coming back and becoming a 30 goal scorer. If the Stars really believed that they deserve every ounce of criticism possible for that terrible evaluation. Val had 54 points in 86 games back in mother Russia. If you translate that back to the NHL you’d expect him to be a 36 point or so player. He’s significantly under performing there too, but thinking he would solve the scoring issues was absurd.

We could keep going down the list. Martin Hanzal and Marc Methot were poor expenditures from the get go. Why is Ben Lovejoy now here? Watching Jeff Skinner, Max Pacioretty, and Ryan O’Reilly get dealt for reasonable to mediocre packages never made any sense. Dinging a franchise for moves they didn’t make is unfair as a general rule, but applied to this specific instance it isn’t. They thought things were fine. That’s a problem.

If you want to blame Jim Nill or Tom Gaglardi or some weird Deep Hockey State group for making poor decisions I don’t really care. The idea that they are allowed to shrug their shoulders, throw their hands in the air, and say “them’s the breaks” is completely unacceptable though.

Especially when Jim Lites himself said the media needs to be more critical of the franchise.

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