Under the RadarDark Horses
Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards won’t play a role in tonight’s game as he’s expected to miss his seventh consecutive contest with concussion-like symptoms. But the fact that the Stars will be able to lean on the veteran center -- possibly as early as Friday -- should be reassuring for Dallas fans and maybe even the players who will skate against the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Jobing.com Arena. This 9 p.m. ET tilt is yet another game that will sway the bottom half of the Western Conference standings. (The Blackhawks did just that by moving from ninth to fifth with a victory over the Minnesota Wild on Monday.) Both teams enter with 33 wins. Dallas is in eighth place with a game in hand on the Wild and the Nashville Predators, who all have 72 points. Phoenix, who has been atop of the Pacific Division a good portion of the season, is in fourth in the conference with 76 points and two points behind the division-leading San Jose Sharks.At the end of the day, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk apparently wasn’t offered enough in return for Richards, who is set to become a free agent this offseason. Richards told reporters he was willing to waive his no-trade clause, but added that he’s curious to see how the Stars' ownership situation shakes out this summer. That took a little bit of a twist on Tuesday when The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell reported Dallas oil tycoon Douglas Miller offered about $110 million to purchase the franchise. Campbell reported that the purchase price would be announced closer to $225 million since debt and losses written into the deal for the first four seasons would be included in the larger figure. (Forbes ranked the Starsas the 10th most valuable NHL franchise at $227 million in December.) Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, however, is seen by many as the frontrunner to acquire Stars, who also play at American Airlines Center. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla will make his Coyotes debut tonight -- in the team's alternate black jerseys no less. He was acquired before the deadline along with minor league winger Dane Byers from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Scottie Upshall and defenseman Sami Lepisto. Defenseman Alex Goligoski, who the Stars acquired Feb. 21 from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for winger James Neal defenseman Matt Niskanen, has a goal and two assists and is plus-2 in his first three games on the Stars. The Coyotes have won the last three meetings and are 3-1 overall against the Stars this season.