McKenzie on Stars: ‘I’ve never seen a verbal broadside like this’

Jim Lites’ epic ripping of his team’s star players caused quite a reaction in the hockey world Friday.

The Dallas Stars CEO was brutally candid in Sean Shapiro’s piece for The Athletic, and - as intended - the rant drew a ton of attention.

There’s never a better place to get a measured, experienced take than from hockey’s No. 1 Insider, and Bob McKenzie happened to have a normally-scheduled appearance on the Senators pregame show on Ottawa’s TSN 1200 late Friday afternoon.

"I don't think I've ever, in all the time I've ever covered the National Hockey League - and that dates back to 1982 - I don't think I've ever seen a more scathing, public, orchestrated, intentional verbal assault on the best players on a team by basically ownership and upper-management,” reflected McKenzie. “And it wasn’t done in a PG-rated fashion either. It was full X-rated in terms of the language that was being used to obviously underline and emphasize the level of unhappiness and anger that Tom Gaglardi and Jim Lites and the Dallas Stars feel at what they’re getting - or more precisely what they’re not getting - from their two highest-paid players and the two best players on the team in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.

“So I’ve never seen a verbal broadside like this in my professional life in the National Hockey League, so it’s stunning on that level.

“And this isn’t even a case where Jim Lites happened to be doing media and somebody asked him, ‘How do you think Benn and Seguin have played?’ As it’s written in The Athletic, my understanding of it is he basically sought out The Athletic to make these feelings known. And then basically delivered this unprecedented verbal attack and then said, ‘Print it! What have you guys been waiting for?’

“So it’s stunning. And it’ll be absolutely fascinating now to see how it plays out.”

Indeed.

The conversation on Benn and Seguin continued for another few minutes on TSN 1200, if you’re so inclined.

McKenzie concluded his remarks here:

“It’ll be curious to see do they take it personally, do they take it professionally, does it motivate them, or what’s going to be the response here.

“Obviously Jim Lites and Tom Gaglardi, knowing the kind of attention that this would draw, are willing to bet that it’s going to be positives that come out of it, but that remains to be seen.”

Benn is in the second season of an eight-year, $76 million contract, which carries a $9.5 million cap hit and carries a no-move clause.

Seguin is in the final campaign of his six-year, $34.5 million pact, which includes a no-move clause that was negotiated in with his pending eight-year, $78.8 million extension. The cap hit on that deal - which will kick in for 2019-20 - will be $9.85 million, and it also includes a no-move clause in each of the eight seasons.


Contract-related info via CapFriendly