One of the things they teach you in leadership seminars is not to throw valued members of your team under the bus in public.
Apparently nobody told the NHL’s Dallas Stars this, as their, CEO Jim Lites, decided to compare two of his highest-priced free agents to something that comes out the north end of a southbound horse.
Except Lites didn’t put it nearly that delicately.
Instead, he called Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn “f—ing horses—,” according to The Athletic.
Bear in mind, Dallas is 19-16-3, hanging around the fringes of the Western Conference playoff race in the NHL’s byzantine playoff seeding system.
Lites followed up the equine scatological insult by saying, after a 2-0 Stars victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night, “The team was OK. But Seguin and Benn were terrible.”
And since leaving well enough alone is apparently for other people, Lites didn’t stop there.
“We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done,” he said. “It’s embarrassing, and no one writes it. Write it! These guys are not good enough. They’re not good enough for me, they’re not good enough for the owner, and they’re certainly not good enough for the general manager, who I can’t speak for, but it’s not good enough for the job he’s done. But we’ve had meeting after meeting after meeting. The accountability on the ice is not there.”
On the bright side, Seguin and Benn are Dallas’ top two point scorers, so they’ve got that going for them.
Seguin has 11 goals, 21 assists and a plus-11 on-ice goal differential in 38 games; Benn has a team-high 15 goals to go with his 15 assists and plus-6.
Sure, the Stars play a low-scoring, defensive-oriented style (they average well under three goals a game both scored and allowed, while the NHL as a whole is nearly bang-on three for each team), but the star-driven offense that they expected from Seguin and Benn simply hasn’t materialized.
Nobody on the Stars is within a country mile of the league leaders in any offensive statistics. Benn is tied for 20th in power play goals with six, and that’s it.
Meanwhile, Seguin is sixth in the league in shot attempts but has only the 11 goals to show for it, a horrendous shooting percentage by today’s NHL standards.
Dallas gets their wins on defense; Ben Bishop is fourth in the league in goals against average and ninth in save percentage.
Seguin, speaking to The Athletic, at least seems to know that his performance hasn’t been up to scratch.
“Not good enough,” Seguin said. “I’ve got to play better. I’m trying to do a job, and I haven’t had the right results.”
It doesn’t help that he is under contract for another eight years once his extension kicks in next year, and Benn still has six years left on his eight-year, $76 million deal.
The next time NHL labor negotiations are in the news, it won’t be a surprise if Jim Lites leads a charge to take a cue from the NBA, which limits its maximum contract extensions to five years (and four for any player who doesn’t get a “supermax” deal) in part to protect owners from just this sort of situation.
Because right now he’s looking at a long-term investment that isn’t contending for a championship now and doesn’t look like it’s going to be in the future.
And in a place like Dallas, when you pay for prime beef, you don’t want to end up served a plate of horse manure.
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