5 Dallas Stars High-priced imports should bring the offense--and the team-- back to life

October 13, 2002

When the Stars opened training camp last month, defenseman Derian
Hatcher regaled his teammates with tales from the off-season.
Along with his brother Kevin, a former NHL defenseman, Hatcher is
the co-owner of Let's Play Racing, one of the top teams in the
American Power Boat Association's offshore racing circuit. The
Hatchers let a pro driver race the boat, but they followed their
38-foot, Factory 2 class craft in races from Corpus Christi to
Hyannis and collected four top-three finishes. "I've always loved
powerboating and racing," says Derian.

Even so, Hatcher figures he had too much time to spend on his
hobby last spring. Owing to combustible team chemistry, numerous
injuries and an abysmal penalty-killing unit that ranked 26th in
the NHL, Dallas finished 36-28-13-5 and failed to make the
playoffs for the first time since 1996-97. To avoid a repeat
performance, owner Tom Hicks committed more than $60 million to
free agents. First Dallas plucked forward Bill Guerin, who scored
41 goals with the Bruins last season; he is likely to play with
wing Jason Arnott and center Mike Modano on the top line. Second,
the club added steady wing Scott Young. The Stars also signed
Philippe Boucher, an improving defenseman who played 80 games for
the Kings last season.

The most significant off-season move, however, was hiring coach
Dave Tippett to replace the fired Ken Hitchcock. Tippett, 41,
became a hot NHL prospect after he helped the Kings become the
league's most effective power-play team last season. The Stars
hired him to add some va-va-voom to an offense that had idled
under Hitchcock's neutral-zone trap. "It's not
do-whatever-you-want-to-do," says center Pierre Turgeon of
Tippett's puck-possession approach, "but we'll be more wide-open
than we've been."

For all the optimism in Dallas, Texas-sized questions abound.
Will goalie Marty Turco be solid enough in his first season as a
starter? Can Arnott and Turgeon find their old form after
underachieving last season? Adding to the drama, Hicks announced
that he's selling the team. The Stars may not win the Stanley
Cup, but Hicks's upgraded team will be worth more next spring
than it is today. --L. Jon Wertheim

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID E. KLUTHO Bill Guerin

FAST FACT
Bill Guerin had 355 shots in '01-02 but only 66 points, the
fewest by any player in history with as many as 350 shots in a
season.

INSIDER

CATEGORY SI RANKING SKINNY

OFFENSE 5 Outstanding punch down middle: Modano, Turgeon,
Arnott
DEFENSE 9 Addition of Boucher provides size and depth
GOALTENDING 18 Unproven Turco is active and loves to handle puck
SPECIAL TEAMS 5 Zubov makes PP hum; Young will elevate PK
MANAGEMENT 13 G.M. Armstrong hired top coaching talent in Tippett

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)