At Christmas we look for peace on Earth, and goodwill to all men (even Maple Leafs fans). But the Dallas Stars’ CEO Jim Lites didn’t get that message and instead of spreading seasonal joy, decided to let rip on some the Stars’ top talent. So much so that the NHLPA have released a statement:
NHLPA statement on Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites’ comments about Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn: pic.twitter.com/S4CzyKRUmh
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) December 30, 2018
The comments, about the Stars’ Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, compared the two to horse excrement. The pair were singled out while the rest of the team avoided criticism. The comments came after Dallas’ win over division rivals Nashville last week. Naturally fans and fellow NHLers have defended Benn and Seguin who’ve largely dismissed the comments. Ottawa Senators fans meanwhile are just happy there’s another team taking some headlines about outrageously bad management.
The NHLPA’s comments were to be expected, they’re simply looking out for their boys, but you know how you should never send an email/tweet while angry? Yeah, that. What started out as some misplaced comments from a frustrated CEO is getting a little out of control.
That’s not a defence of Jim Lites, far from it. We as fans make comments when we’re angry or upset with our team’s performances (although rarely after a win). But that’s because our team is our passion, it isn’t our employer. We all have colleagues who perhaps don’t meet our expectations, to put it politely, but to slander them in the way that Lites did was unprofessional. That sort of behaviour is indefensible. Especially as these weren’t off-the-cuff mutterings, Lites arranged the meeting with members of the media and specifically asked that this be written about.
Criticism is a big part of professional sports, and when players are in the spotlight, they’re likely to face a lot of criticism when their performances dip. But that’s part of the game. Benn and Seguin have the biggest contracts by far on the Stars’ roster, and the forward lines are built around these two. This didn’t happen by accident though, and a team’s performance can’t be pinned on just two players. The comments made imply that the team has higher expectations on these two, because they make more money.
The language used by the NHLPA reads like a petulant gut reaction, but the point being made is valid. Jim Lites can be angry and upset if he wants, but that needs to stay within the organisation (or at least the back of an Uber).
Soon enough, Eugene Melnyk will say something stupid again, and the Lites story will be yesterday’s headlines. But the Stars’ organisation should learn from this, and focus its energies into holding onto that wildcard place.