Stars Keep Brad Richards, and their Playoff Hopes

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The Dallas Stars have been falling, from the top of the NHL's Western Conference down to eighth place.

But as yesterday's trade deadline came and went without any deals, the message is clear: The Stars aren't giving up.

It's not only a bold move. It's the right move.

Leading scorer and best player Brad Richards drew interest from teams, but general manager Joe Nieuwendyk made it loud and clear that, for Stars fans, no news was good news.

"A lot of teams were saying they could use Brad," he said. "But you know what? Our team can use him, too. We're sitting in a playoff spot and we're trying to make a run here."

The Stars, besieged by numerous injuries -- including Richards, who has missed the last six games with a concussion -- have 20 games to bail out their sinking ship, starting tonight in Phoenix against the Coyotes. Richards is eyeing a return Friday against Anaheim.

Without a new owner on the horizon, Richards -- whose contract expires after the season -- doesn't have a long-term resolution in Dallas. But with yesterday's decision to keep him, the Stars clearly have a short-term goal:

The playoffs.

"I believe in this group," Nieuwndyk said. "I'm about winning right now and making the playoffs."

Who knows when the Stars will get a new owner, whether Richards will be in the plans next year or even if the franchise will stay in Dallas? Only thing we know for now is that the focus this spring will be on playoff hockey, and that's a good goal.

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