Dallas Stars President Jim Lites told The Athletic Friday that he and owner Tom Gaglardi are angry about the lack of production from captain Jamie Benn and star Tyler Seguin.
“We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done,” Lites said. “It’s embarrassing, and no one writes it. Write it,” Lites said.
In a profanity-laced tirade in which he called the pair “(expletive) horse (expletive),” Lites said he hears from Gaglardi five times per game about how poorly Benn and Seguin are playing. The Stars beat the Nashville Predators 2-0 Thursday night, but Lites still offered his premeditated tongue lashing,
“The team was OK, but Seguin and Benn were terrible,” Lites said.
About Benn, Lites said, “(Benn’s) the leader of the team, he stirs the drink, but he’s not doing it. He’s got to get it done.”
Lites also doesn’t accept the excuse that Seguin has had poor puck luck this season.
“He’s hitting posts, ‘Wah-wah,’ That’s what I say about hitting posts,” Lites said. “Get a little bit closer to the action, actually go to the spot where you score goals. He doesn’t do that, he never does that anymore. He used to be a pest to play against, people hated playing against Tyler Seguin, they don’t anymore.”
Lites said he has never before commented on player performance, but said he could no longer stand idly by and watch Seguin and Benn play poorly. He asked for a meeting with hand-picked reporters. According to The Athletic, Lites insisted that every word he said was on the record.
This tongue-lashing from Lites came after a Thursday morning skate in which coach Jim Montgomery told his players he was “embarrassed” by how they practiced, considering that they are barely holding onto a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
However, Lites’ criticism was directly pointed at Benn and Seguin.
“We’ve had meeting after meeting after meeting,” Lites said. “The accountability on the ice is not there.
“These guys were signed to big contracts because they were the third- and sixth-leading scorers in the National Hockey League over the past five years. They get their money, we expect them to not be outplayed every game we play in. And if they were as good as they’ve been in the past, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Benn has a salary of $13 million and a cap hit of $9.5 million and has 30 points in 38 games. Seguin, who signed an eight-year $78.8 million contract extension, has 32 points.
Because it is unusual in the NHL for team officials to criticize players, it’s fair to conclude that Lites’ tirade was designed to fire up his stars.
“It’s not about how much money. I don’t resent the money,” Lites said. “It’s about what we expect the money to be. You just can’t win if your best players aren’t your best players. And they aren’t our best players.”