Feb 17, 2013, 5:30 AM EDT
Today is Hockey Day in America, an all-day celebration of the sport throughout the United States. NBC will air nine hours of live coverage across its networks; here at PHT, we’re taking a look at stories of hockey’s impact across the country.
As a transplant from the Northeast, I’ve spent 15 years in the Dallas area as a curious observer rather than a hardcore Stars fan.
Perhaps that distance provides a nuanced view of the team, which I’ll try to summarize in this post.
It’s difficult for me to shake the parallels between the Colorado Avalanche and the Stars. Both teams moved from hockey hotbeds to somewhat unexpected locales — the Stars moved from Minnesota in 1993-94; the Avs moved from Quebec City in 1995-96 — and each city inherited huge names and experienced quick success.
And, to some extent, that probably made both markets look a little too strong right out of the gate. In a way, they’re both going through the awkward community-building and transitional stages* they initially leapfrogged because they had great teams without the wait.
But even armed with a strong team, the Stars front office still had to appeal to a “non-traditional” market. The Dallas Morning News’ Mike Heika was most impressed by a charity pick-up game that former coach Ken Hitchcock concocted:
“ … The Charity Challenge on Ice was eventually played at Reunion Arena to more than 10,000 fans with Daryl Reaugh acting as a coach on one bench dressed as Herb Brooks,” Heika wrote in an e-mail. “For a few years in Dallas, the coolest thing you could be was a Stars fan. Then, the team started losing and slipped into bankruptcy, and management decided there would be no promotion and no freebies. That resulted in several crowds under 8,000 people last season.
“Basically, the organization didn’t care about the fans, so the fans stopped caring about the organization. In November 2011, Tom Gaglardi bought the team, and put Lites back in charge, and they are trying to use the old model to fill the building again.
“We’ll see if there is another wild card like Hitchcock out there to push them over the top.”
(Reaugh as Brooks? Yeah, that’s pretty cool.)
Winning and Fun
Ultimately, as Heika notes, Dallas is “a winners town” so a playoff berth – and ideally, a deep run – is what will get people coming in higher numbers.
In the meantime, the Stars would be wise to follow other teams when it comes to marketing their team with humor. Personally, I’d love to see them employ the lighthearted approach of the Brett Hull “Ambassador of Fun” ads … even if that era isn’t really associated with on-ice success:
Overall, the Stars are a work in progress with a much-needed new owner. Forwards Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson (plus some solid young blueliners and a great-if-fragile goalie) represent the future while Jaromir Jagr and Brenden Morrow are a bridge to the past.
The franchise needs to keep building, but it’s uncertain if it will enjoy the amazing luck of its early golden era.
* – According to ESPN’s attendance numbers, the Stars went from being ranked 12th among NHL teams in attendance in 2007 to 28th last season.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT
Insert your “humongous big” jokes here.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Quite an open letter.
Sep 17, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT
Sep 17, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
His agent says it’s best to leave town and avoiding being a distraction.
Sep 17, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT
“No matter how much my old teammates say it doesn’t bother them, it affects them. It does in that city.”
Sep 17, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT
And on the possibility of his client signing an offer sheet? “Well, we’ll have to see.”
Sep 17, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
“Justin has emerged as one of our most well-rounded and dependable defensemen.”
Sep 17, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT
“We’ve been told if we don’t give them what they want, they’ll be leaving town.”
Sep 17, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT
Veteran d-man just turned 40 years old.
Sep 17, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT
Sep 17, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT
“That is significantly good to hear.”
Sep 17, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT
“I’ve been with the team for eight years, and I don’t know if I’ve been more disappointed about anything that’s been written,” said Pierre Dorion.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
Enter Radim Vrbata.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT
“I actually thought I had a great year up to the Olympic break and even after.”
Sep 17, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT
“The tenor of the talks has been good, so we’ll keep going and keep working on it.”
Sep 17, 2014, 10:38 AM EDT
Yet he says his contract status won’t be an issue this season.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
The Blues acquired him from Toronto.
Sep 17, 2014, 9:02 AM EDT
Those prospects could get longer looks if Ryan Johansen misses the preseason.
Sep 17, 2014, 7:56 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Sep 16, 2014, 10:39 PM EDT
“It’s extortion is what it is. I don’t make this stuff up.”
- Wild hand Bryzgalov a training camp tryout 0
- Update: Wild’s Harding out indefinitely with fractured foot 12
- Johansen heads home from Columbus as talks get even messier 5
- Kesler accuses Vancouver media of making up stories, ‘throwing people under the bus’ 16
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal 47
- Mike Yeo is pretty unhappy with Minnesota’s goalie situation 20
- Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center 11
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands 61
- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 15
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 11
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (61)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (54)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (47)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)