Tom Hicks' Dallas Stars got their season off to a rousing start last night with a 3-2 overtime win in, of all places, Colorado. Which begs the question, "Better late than never?" The Stars, remember, ruined last year's great season with a playoff pratfall to the same Avalanche. In fact, Dallas, which plays its home opener at the American Airlines Center Saturday night, has been eliminated in first-round upsets by Colorado the last two seasons. But so far, so undefeated, right Tom?
"How 'bout those Stars?!" Hicks bellowed this morning on KTCK-AM's (1310, The Ticket) "Dunham & Miller" morning show. The rest of the conversation, however, was much more somber as the owner talked not about his hockey team's win, but his baseball team's loss.
"I had to make myself a stiff drink," Hicks said of his reaction to OK'ing the firing of manager Buck Showalter. "I've been in business all my life and fired a couple dozen people, but that was the hardest night I ever had."
So what did we learn from the Rangers' firing of Buck? That general manager Jon Daniels is indeed more than just a puppet. Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Jim Reeves deserves kudos for his big baseballs, asking Daniels, "So if the failure of the team doesn't just fall at the feet of Buck, but rather the whole organization, who else is getting fired?" We also learned it was indeed Buck's serious style that inevitably doomed him. Try to remember the last time you saw Buck smile, then consider that jovial, marketable Bobby Valentine had the longest tenure in Rangers history (seven seasons) despite never making the playoffs. Another season of Buck would've been an impossible sell to fans--and to players.
"We just don't have the confidence or swagger we need," Hicks said. "Jon thinks Buck's style had run its course with our core group of players. They were tuning him out and were not giving him proper respect anymore."
Buck, who lives on Hicks' street and has a kid enrolled at SMU, will likely stay in Dallas. The Rangers, meanwhile, will search for a manager with both pedigree and pizzazz.
"I love Buck as a man," Hicks said. "He's a great human being, he's loyal to the community and me. It's tough, but it's a move the Rangers needed to do to take the next step. Buck will be fine." --Richie Whitt
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