While nobody I have talked to has any definitive updates on Tom Gaglardi's bid and the sale process and why it is taking so long (which I think you can surmise is not a good thing), Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk talked today at the Glen Gulutzan press conference about how he views the ownership situation and where the Stars are right now. Here are some of the highlights from his discussions: On dealing with the budget limitations while the lenders are trying to sell the team: ``It has been a challenge, but the one thing I’ll say is we never used it as an excuse. I think we feel that the 20 guys we put on the ice can win any night, and we believe in each other. To me, that’s a big plus for our group. I don’t think the highest payroll always wins. I think it’s a group of guys who care about each other and play for each other, and we’ve built that over the last couple of years, in my opinion. Moving forward, we are going to have a new owner, and we’re going to be positioned to make some noise, because if you want to look at cap hit and numbers like that, we’re well positioned once we get everything resolved.’’(I'll agree that the Stars are well positioned. Recent reports say the salary floor (how much each NHL team has to spend) could be $48 million next season. That Stars have only $38 million commited to future contracts for about 16 players, so they'll need to add seven players and have about $10 million they will have to spend. They still owe Sean Avery $2 million, so that could enter the picture, but I think they should have at least $10 million to spend. As for the theory that teams that spend the most don't always win, I will argue that the teams that spend the least almost never win).On how he feels about his job in building the Stars:``I’m pleased with the way things stand. Obviously, missing the playoffs is tough to swallow, but I think we’re making significant progress. I think we’re moving forward on my checklist internally. When I came here, I didn’t feel like it was a team. I felt like there were a lot of moving parts within the walls of that locker room that maybe weighed on the team attitude, and I think we’ve made big strides in those areas. I think this team really cares about each other right now, and we’re moving forward.''(I do think the Stars are good teammates, and that's something I saw when I was helping cover the Mavericks. That's a great start, but they still have to fill some holes with improved on the ice performance before a great team attitude can make a big difference)On dealing with a time when interest in the Stars is at its lowest:``It makes it challenging, but I’m excited by the challenge. I went to Game 5 of the NBA playoffs and just sat there all night and thought about the day when we could have that kind of atmosphere in that building. I know it’s been there before, but that’s the challenge, and I really believe the only way you get there is through stability and drafting well. I think we’re moving in the right direction. Ownership will be plus, I don’t think anybody can dispute that, I think it will give us a good foundation to work from.’’(I had the same thought when I was watching the Mavericks games.It's a stretch to say the Stars can create that level of buzz, but it didn't take much of a tweak to get the fans excited in 2008, and I think fans will get excited again if they start winning. That's why it's silly to compare this team to Atlanta, Phoenix or Florida. This has been a three-year slump, not a 10-year slump.)On his philosophy that you can rebuild on the fly and that you don't need to ``blow things up:''``I think this organization has done a tremendous job of rebuilding on the fly, and we’re still in that mode. Obviously, there have been some challenges the last couple of years, but we’re working toward building a winner on the fly. We have some good players, we have some good young players, and we’re seeing some players who will be coming into Austin who will supplement our system. We’re clearly on the upside. I think 95 points is an indication of that, and we’ll just continue to move forward.’’On acquiring talent without losing draft picks or prospects:``You're right, in talking to people, most of them want draft picks, so it will be difficult. But I know there are teams out there who are hoping to move money, and we could be in the position to help them out. We're trying to study every option and we're trying to be creative. Bottom line is we have to spend some money, but we still want to spend it wisely.''(The interesting thing about taking a bad contract off of somebody's hands is you usually get a shorter term than if you simply outbid to get a free agent. If you get the right player, then paying a little extra salary to get him doesn't kill you if it's in the short term. Someone like Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell is still a good player even if he is overpaid, so adding an overpaid player can still make you a better team. The question then comes what do you have to give up to help another team).On even if the team isn't sold, can the Stars still be in the free agent game on July 1:``We have to be in the game on July 1. We understand there are players who are going to be made available, and we have to study what their contracts might be and whether they might be a fit for us long-term, because we do believe we will eventually have strong ownership. But, we're not going to be stupid. You have to overpay on July 1, but we still would want to be smart with our overpayments, if that's the case. If the right player is there at that cost ($4 to 5 million) and it fits what we can do, we would jump at that.''(I truly believe the front office is seriously considering spending a big chunk of the money needed to get to the floor on one player, either via trade or free agency. The problem will be convincing that player to sign with Dallas or giving up what is needed in a trade. Either way, though, it could make July an exciting time).