Stars Go Young and Marc Crawford Will Probably Go Home

CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 09: Antti Niemi #31 of the Chicago Blackhawks stops a shot by Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars at the United Center on February 9, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Stars 4-3 in a shoot out. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

I’m curious to watch the Stars next season.

Historically, they’ve been a team of names. Mike Modano. Marty Turco. Sergei Zubov. Brett Hull, back in the day.

The recent history of the Stars has always been big NHL players.

Now, this season, they’re going in a different direction, choosing youth and potential over names and experience.

In fact, Brad Richards, arguably the biggest name on the roster, can’t even get a contract extension.

Now of course, a huge part of this youth movement is driven by the Stars being for sale. Current ownership doesn’t want to make any long-term commitments that might scare off a potential buyer.

Youth is cheap and so it makes the Stars more attractive to a potential owner.

But is it the best idea to give Dallas coach Marc Crawford a young team?

This is what Helene Elliott said over two years ago when Crawford was fired by the Kings:

Crawford wasn’t going to get [the Kings] remotely close to contending for the Stanley Cup, not with his habitual scalding criticism of the kids who are becoming the core of this team and will make up an even greater chunk of the Kings’ roster and soul next season.

Maybe Crawford learned from his mistakes in Los Angeles and is now prepared for the specific challenges of working with a young roster. It’s not unheard of for coaches to change and to grow.

But more probable is that Crawford will quickly become frustrated with a very young team and an organization that will probably try and shed even more age (and salary) as the season progresses.

Next year’s Stars won’t be about the team that starts the season. Instead, it will be about the team that ends the season — probably minus Richards, who will prove irresistible to any team making a playoff push, or to the Rangers, who seem to be trying to re-create the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning, and most likely with a new coach better equipped to deal with the roster in hand.

Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk is a smart guy. He’s assembling a team that will be something to behold in the next few seasons, but probably not right away. When the Stars are finally sold, Nieuwendyk will be ready to strategically add salary that should dramatically improve the team.

Until then, he’s got a team that should be good enough to tread water, depending upon if Crawford has learned how to coach a young roster, or how quickly a coach is brought in who does know how to do that.