NHLPA rips Stars CEO for Seguin-Benn criticism

The NHL Players Association on Sunday took Dallas Stars CEO Jim Lites to task for derogatory comments he directed Friday at stars Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

“The comments Jim Lites made regarding Tyler and Jamie are both reckless and insulting,” the NHLPA said in a statement. “If players directed such comments towards management, how would those be regarded? To say that Jim Lites’ conduct is unprofessional would be a gross understatement. In professional sports, all individual players and teams go through highs and lows, but this is not how professionals handle adversity.”

According to The Athletic, Lites had told reporters that Seguin and Benn have been “f—ing horses—; I don’t know how else to put it.”

Lites, who said the feeling also was shared by team owner Tom Gaglardi, continued to unload on the team’s star players.

“For me, it’s pissed me off,” Lites said. “What nobody says is what is completely obvious to me: We are getting terrible play from our top two players. … We are a stars-driven league, and our stars aren’t getting it done. … These guys are not good enough. They’re not good enough for me, they’re not good enough for the owner.”

Said Seguin on Saturday: “Jamie and I hear the message. I think the whole team hears it. We know that we have to play better and we understand that.”

Seguin, who signed an eight-year, $78.8 million extension in September, said he hadn’t talked to Lites since the end of last season and was caught off guard by his comments.

“A little bit of a surprise there. I guess, in one aspect, because I obviously didn’t know how he felt,” Seguin said Saturday. “So, it came as a bit of a surprise. But, I said it yesterday in practice that I understand I need to be better.

“Jamie understands that he needs to be better, and we need to lead this team to be better. I think our organization needs to be better. I think everyone is frustrated the last couple of years and it kind of came on us.”

The Stars are eighth in the Western Conference standings with 43 points — just seven points behind current No. 1 Winnipeg. Dallas finished one point out of a playoff spot last season.

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