Dallas Stars play by play man Ralph Strangis' contract expires on July 1, 2014, and like every single one of us Ralphie wants more. As the late Chuck Daly once told Derrick Coleman: "It's not about what you're worth, it's about what you can get."
The problem: Team owner Tom Gaglardi wants to reduce expenses, and unfortunately for Mr. Strangis this includes his price tag. The haggling could potentially lead to the Stars' breaking up their most famous duo - Ralph and Razor.
The Dallas Stars recently gave Strangis' broadcast partner, Daryl "Razor" Reaugh, a long-term extension. It would be odd for a franchise that actively promotes "Ralph and Razor" to end their partnership, but that scenario is on the table. Basically, the Stars' action says they like Razor more than they like Ralph.
I asked Ralph if he feels that way.
"I believe (Stars president) Jim Lites and the Stars love me and they love both of us," Strangis said. "I believe it's in everyone's best interest to figures this thing out. ... Nobody can argue I don't have a great job and don't make a lot of money."
As much of a fixture as Ralph is to the Dallas Stars, their team's fan base remains stuck in neutral, or declining. He is pushing, the Stars aren't budging. I asked him if he thinks he is playing with fire. There are only 30 NHL play by play jobs.
"It's always been my intention to finish my professional broadcasting career with the Dallas Stars," said Strangis, 52. "I went in to negotiate a deal that would keep me here for a long time. I don't see how that constitutes playing with fire."
As important as Strangis is to the Dallas Stars - he has been on their radio and or telecasts since the team moved to Texas - we are not talking about the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and taking Vin Scully with them. Scully may be the only team broadcaster alive who, if there was a legit contract squabble and he threatened to leave, the franchise would cave in fear of backlash. The same maybe for long time Cincy Reds voice Marty Brennaman.
Would the backlash be great enough from the Stars' loyal fan base if Ralph indeed left after the season? Some, but how much? It's all relative, and how much of a headache the team wants to deal with. History says loyal fans always come back, regardless of records, ownership, centers, forwards, lockouts, broadcasters, et all.
"We love Ralph. We pay him really well. It's not personal. It's none of that," Stars president Jim Lites said. "The choice is his."
The Ralph/Razor is unique in that they are the face for this franchise. The players are aware of it. One former player told me of Ralph and Razor: "This is the first time I've been on where you have to be friends with the broadcasters."
The problem for most broadcasters is that team owners view them like the rest of us - completely and totally disposable. We are worth so much, until we're not. Then a cheaper version of us will be inserted.
A current voice of a local team once was in a similar situation a few years ago, and he put up the good fight until he realized the team's final offer was their final offer. He took.
The Ralph and Razor duo will either endure, or this is its final season.
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