Owner says coach isn't the problem

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks isn't ready to make changes yet, but he will if the team doesn't improve soon.

Hicks wasn't specific Tuesday about any changes but he did say second-year coach Dave Tippett isn't the problem.

"The veterans need to step up and play like they're capable," Hicks said. "We have players on that hockey team that were brought here to win the Stanley Cup. They showed last year they have the ability to do it, but we're not playing up to our potential this year."

Despite one of the league's highest payrolls at $67 million, the Stars were 10th in the Western Conference, two spots out of the playoffs, going into Tuesday night's game at San Jose. They had just 44 points through 44 games, and their 18 losses were already one more than last year.

The game at San Jose started a five-game road trip, the longest of the season for the Stars. It includes games against four of the conference's top six teams.

"It's not necessarily this road trip, but clearly sometime in the month of February, we're going to make a decision," Hicks said. "Do we have the ability to make a good run at the playoffs, and go deep in the playoffs and make a run at the Cup or not? If we conclude we're not, we're going to start worrying about next year and the year after."

The Stars had a conference-best 111 points in the regular season last year. They lost to Anaheim in the second round of the playoffs.