Dreger on Lites’ quotes: ‘This stuff leaves a mark’

The reverberations from Jim Lites’ comments regarding the Dallas Stars’ top duo may continue to be felt for quite some time.

Darren Dreger had a Monday morning radio hit on Toronto’s TSN 1050, and was asked to weigh in on Friday’s story regarding the Stars CEO’s comments regarding the play of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

“Bizarre is an understatement and probably not the word that most would use to describe it,” said Dreger. “Now initially when it happened, I read the comments in The Athletic, and I was like, ‘Holy Smokes.’ Automatically I thought, ‘Man, I sure hope Jim Lites knew that he was on record.’ And I mean the piece made it clear that Jim Lites knew that he was on record. And I couldn’t believe it based on the language that was being used here.

“But what I assumed - wrongly - I assumed Lites or Tom Gaglardi, the owner of the Dallas Stars, had reached out to Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin to say, ‘Hey boys, this isn’t good enough and we’re tired of it. We’re frustrated with the team in general, but we’re paying you guys megabucks here. You’re the leaders of this group. You’ve got to be better and send a message.’ So when I learned the next day that that hadn’t happened, that’s where it goes sideways for me.

“Look, as a media person it’s great fodder for radio and the follow-ups. And the initial piece, I mean, that’s just tremendous copy - it just is. But then when you peel away the layers of this onion man, it gets ugly in a hurry.

“In the big picture, I know Tom Gaglardi well. He’s a very passionate and emotional owner. He wants nothing more than to bring a Stanley Cup back to the Dallas Stars and back to the city of Dallas. He’s invested tons of money. And in truth, the team should be better than what they are.

“But after something like this… these type of things manifest. So now if all of the sudden Gaglardi decides if things don’t go well for the Dallas Stars that he needs a new general manager - which, it kind of feels that way, doesn’t it, based on Jim Lites coming out instead of Jim Nill coming out and softening the blow, but still sending a stinging message.

“If you feel like you’ve got to renovate or maybe even have a rebuild in mind, you’ve got to dip back into the unrestricted free agent market. Top unrestricted free agents are going to remember these quotes and this approach by ownership for a long, long time.

“This stuff leaves a mark. I was very surprised.”

The 20-16-3 Stars occupy fourth spot in the Central Division, two points back of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 Saturday, and will take on the Montreal Canadiens Monday evening.