Whither Devin: Arizona could solve the Hester headache

devin-hester-headache-slide.png

Whither Devin: Arizona could solve the Hester headache

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns in the midst of frustrating season with Stars

Former Blackhawks prospect Stephen Johns was like the rest of the Dallas Stars entering this season: he was optimistic, for his own game but also for the Stars, the team coming off a solid postseason and bringing a strong lineup back.

The season has been nothing but a disappointment, however, for the Stars, for a lot of their players and definitely for Johns, who has been in and out of the lineup.

“We have a pretty young team and most of these guys have played on teams that have always had the chance to win the championship of whatever league,” Johns said. “It’s tough for a lot of us right now. I’ve never been on a team that’s missed the playoffs. You have to stick together and get through it together and win as many games as you can. But it’s tough. It sucks.”

Johns will be a healthy scratch on Thursday when the Stars face the Blackhawks. The Stars are coming off a 1-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks and, like most coaches, Lindy Ruff is hesitant to change a lineup after a victory. Johns has played in 55 games this season. For the 24-year-old defenseman who was considered a great present-and-future piece of the deal that sent he and Patrick Sharp from the Blackhawks to the Stars in the summer of 2015, it’s been frustrating.

[BLACKHAWKS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

“It’s all about confidence at this point and trying to find it,” Johns said. “It’s easy to lose your confidence and hard to get it back. It’s just finding it and sticking with it, blocking negative plays out and not letting it affect you, but it’s tough.”

It would be easy to think forward to next season. The Stars are all but eliminated from this postseason and, with some good health, perhaps they could get back to where they were in the 2015-16 season. Johns, too. Instead, he’ll focus on trying to make the final games of this season as positive as possible.

“You can’t look too far ahead into the future. Right now we have 10 games left and we just have to focus on those 10 games because nobody knows what’s going to happen in the summer,” Johns said. “It’s more about focusing this year on a positive note and then whatever happens, happens.”

With first big contract in hand, Tim Anderson planning a run to the Pepsi machine

With first big contract in hand, Tim Anderson planning a run to the Pepsi machine

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tim Anderson plans to buy one very expensive Pepsi.

When it comes time to make his first big purchase, the White Sox shortstop already has a good idea what he's going to do.

As he quickly rose through the minors, Anderson — who signed a six-year deal Tuesday that could pay him $50.5 million through 2024 — talked to his mother about her retiring if he ever reached the big leagues. But all Lucille Brown joked that she has wanted from Anderson is a Pepsi, just one Pepsi. Anderson said on Thursday morning that he intends to make good on his promise and then some.

"She always told me, 'I don't want anything from you, I just wish you the best. The only thing I want from you is for you to buy me a Pepsi,'" Anderson said. "Pepsi is her favorite soda. The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to buy her a Mercedes and I'm going to buy a Pepsi and put it in the cup holder for her."

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

An outpatient healthcare worker, Brown and her husband Roger — who are Anderson's aunt and uncle — raised Anderson along with their three children. Anderson said he and Brown have discussed her retirement over the past few years and will broach the topic again in the future.

If Lucille decides to retire, Anderson thinks she might take up decorating houses, which she did for the second-year player after he recently purchased a home in North Carolina. But for now, Anderson wants to take care of his family for helping him attain his goal of playing in the big leagues, which led to the "life-changing" contract.

"I think she's going to retire," Anderson said. "We haven't picked up on that conversation yet, but we'll talk about it.

"I feel like nothing but good people have been in my circle from the time that I got drafted."