Saturday, June 14, 2014

Finals Run Presents Challenge of Shorter Offseason

Regardless of series outcome, Stars will have little time to recover before 2014-15 season
Nilstorp (Credit: Colin Peddle)
With the Kings' Stanley Cup win last night, the AHL Finals between the Stars and IceCaps are the only remaining undecided championship. As we wait for the Calder Cup Finals to resume, it becomes closer and closer to a number of key dates in the offseason and the 2014-15 regular season as well. Part of the challenge of repeating a win or even a visit to the Finals is the challenge of a shortened offseason. If the series goes to Game 7 on June 23rd, there will be very little time prepare for all sorts of offseason front office activities and also for the players' to rest and recover.

First, the draft is just four days later. Starting on June 27th in Philadelphia, the 2014 NHL Entry Draft will kickoff player acquisition for the summer. The draft will wrap up the next day, June 28th. Two days later, qualifying offers are due for restricted free agents at 5:00 PM ET on June 30th. Then it really gets interesting. Unrestricted free agency begins on July 1st (Canada Day). Most players who are big names at the AHL level tend to be snatched up around the July 5-10th timeframe. Chris Mueller, for example, was signed by Dallas on July 8th last year. Also for reference, the big trade acquiring Tyler Seguin last year happened on July 4th.

Shortly thereafter, most NHL teams will hold development camp for their drafted prospects and many of the players who are expected to play in the AHL in the coming season. Training camp is two months later and then the whole thing starts over again.

Moving into speculative territory, the Stars could also be looking at new coaching options for the coming season, which is another piece of the puzzle you want to get into place as soon as possible. Vancouver had stated a desire to get their coach in place before the draft. The Canucks are rumored to be hot on Kings assistant coach John Stevens and Texas Stars head coach Willie Desjardins to replace the fired John Tortorella. In both cases, they were waiting for the playoffs to end for each team before contacting the coach. Stevens is now fair game. Desjardins is still on lockdown. Not a lot of time for them to make the decision if it goes to June 23rd.

If Desjardins leaves the Stars, Texas will have to find a new head coach, a new assistant or possibly both depending on what happens. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Desjardins would ask Doug Lidster to come with him to Vancouver. Lidster grew up in Kamloops, BC, and spent ten years of his professional career with the Canucks (1983-93). He could also move to the head coaching role in Texas if Jim Nill and Scott White feel he is ready for it.

Finally, the players will have just two months to rest and recover before jumping back into hockey activities. Usually you take a few weeks off from all hockey activity before going into your summer training plan. Players who might need surgery for nagging injuries get that done immediately and have a while to recover.

Obviously all that is a ways off, but it's something to ponder as we steam toward July.

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