Dallas faces difficult offseason

Updated: May 8, 2003, 12:29 PM ET
By By Jim Wilkie | NHL Insider
Dallas didn't back up its regular season ranking as the best team in the West during the playoffs, and the Stars won't get any relief in the offseason despite getting knocked out by Anaheim in the second round. The Western Conference regular season champion Stars will pay for that 82-game success this summer if they want to remain among the elite teams in the league.

Already with a $66 million payroll, Dallas will be making some tough personnel decisions based on the uncertainty of the collective bargaining agreement that expires after next season. Dallas, which has made perhaps the wisest moves among the wealthier NHL teams, can continue to spend on free agents with sights set on a Stanley Cup in 2004. Or the Stars can start to become prudent in anticipation of "cost certainty," salary cap, revenue sharing or whatever might develop if the players' union and owners can avoid a labor stoppage before 2004-05.

"It's hard to swallow right now because we had such high aspirations, and we still believe this was an opportunity that we could have really grasped," Dallas general manager Doug Armstrong told The Dallas Morning News after the stars lost in six games to the Mighty Ducks.