Saturday, November 15, 2008

Stars Head Coach: Dave Tippett

Hello there. I know it's been awhile since HLOG has gotten some Dallas Stars news - forgive me, as it's hard to write when your normally good team is playing under .500 hockey. I've spent most of my time cowering a corner, using a Matt Niskanen jersey as a blanket while clutching a Marty Turco jersey in one hand (I use it instead of tissues) with some sort of alcoholic beverage in the other hand. My liver won't forgive me OR the Stars this season.

That said, here's what I think of head coach, Dave Tippett. This is a coach who has been with the Stars since the 2002-2003 season. The numbers are okay - with the Stars he is 87-48-27. At the end of the 2006-2007 season, he led the Stars in two back-to-back 50-win seasons (according to Wikipedia, also on the list of coaches with that honor are Mike Babcock, Scotty Bowman, Tom Johnson, and Mike Keenan). He's a nice guy, and appears to have a good working relationship with his players.

So what the hell is going on NOW?

So far in this young season, the Stars are 5-8-3. In the beginning it was blamed on a sluggish start - no reason to hit the panic button just yet. The problem wasn't the scores. The problem was how the team was playing. Everyone looked sluggish and confused. Granted, the team was without veterans Jere Lehtinen and Sergei Zubov, both of whom seem to have an incredibly calming influence on the team, but the Stars were without those guys for parts of last season and still managed to get close enough to taste what a Stanley Cup Final MIGHT taste like.

The blame was placed on Marty Turco, who wasn't playing as his usual self. The blame was placed on Sean Avery, who "messed up the chemistry" of the team. The blame was placed on a lot of people - including Dave Tippett. I adore Dave Tippett. I think he's a good coach, despite what the people on the Stars official message boards might say. Look, I can speculate all day long about what goes on in that locker room and what Tippett says to his players, but at the end of the day, I have no idea. I'm not granted access to that part of it.

Some people are saying that the team "won't play" for Tippett anymore. I think that's a load. From all I've seen of post-game interviews and whatnot, the players are equally as upset as Dave Tippett, if not more so. Poor Brad Richards looked like he wanted to cry during his post-game interview after a loss to the Kings at home on Thursday night. I have my problems with what Tippett does - mostly, the juggling of lines. It seems as though a line never plays together longer than a game or two, if that. How can there be any chemistry built between players if they never play on the same line? You have to actually play with a guy to learn what he does and what he's capable of. The only people that seem safe in their spots are Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro on the top line - everyone else gets juggled around. Matt Niskanen, who (usually) plays well on a defensive pair with Sergei Zubov, got benched for the entirety of the third period on Thursday night (not that he didn't deserve to get benched, but that's an entirely different post). Mike Modano, who was playing like a much younger man on a line with B.J. Crombeen and James Neal, now gets in on the shuffling as well, with Neal sent to the minors (which was a business decision, but it still sucks).

In the end, I think it's kind of unfair to place the entirety of the blame on the coach. It's his fault just as much as it is the players' fault. The only problem is, the coach is the easiest to fire.

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