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.
May 27, 2015, 8:21 AM EDT
Wednesday’s collection of links.
May 27, 2015, 12:59 AM EDT
Almost completely shut the door through two periods.
May 27, 2015, 12:09 AM EDT
Game 7. Friday in New York.
May 26, 2015, 11:34 PM EDT
“Boy, that escalated quickly…”
May 26, 2015, 11:03 PM EDT
Ben Bishop pulled in the third period.
May 26, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT
Timonen is averaging under 10 minutes of ice time per game in playoffs.
May 26, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT
Hadn’t scored since April 4.
May 26, 2015, 9:16 PM EDT
New York scored to make it 2-0 soon after that.
May 26, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT
New York needs the win to force Game 7.
May 26, 2015, 8:13 PM EDT
“We’ve had a lot of informal discussions with people about this, but us or the city have yet to be presented with any kind of offer.”
May 26, 2015, 7:24 PM EDT
New York facing elimination, yet again.
May 26, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT
“I’ve had some people reach out to me,” the Red Wings GM said.
May 26, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT
Meanwhile, GM Doug Armstrong says, “Show me a well-liked coach, and I’ll show you a losing coach.”
May 26, 2015, 4:57 PM EDT
But let’s not call it the end of an era.
May 26, 2015, 4:31 PM EDT
Michael Russo of the StarTribune being the reporter.
May 26, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
“The Flyers have never intentionally tried to lose. That would put a foul taste in my mouth. “
May 26, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT
“Does he ride guys hard and has he been on my case at times, where it’s made me angry? Yes. But he does it in the light of trying to make our team better, trying to make each individual player better.”
May 26, 2015, 2:14 PM EDT
Had a bad giveaway in Game 5, but those giveaways are going to happen occasionally.
May 26, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT
Could be held out of tonight’s potential series-clinching tilt.
May 26, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT
But there’s nothing imminent, according to his agent.
- Video: Lundqvist helps lead Rangers back to New York for Game 7 3
- Lightning get taken to ‘school of hard knocks’ in third-period collapse 5
- A storm brewing: Rangers rally to force Game 7 with Lightning (Video) 10
- Video: Lundqvist stones Stamkos with left-pad save 0
- Bob Clarke really doesn’t care for tanking 35
- Hitchcock re-signs for one more year in St. Louis 9
- Ducks win crazy Game 5, push ‘Hawks to edge of elimination 32
- WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Ducks, Game 5 of Western Conference Final 3
- In the playoffs, sometimes it comes down to the ‘bounces’ 4
- Now feels like a good time to debate Stamkos’ next contract 38
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (174)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)