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.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT
There’s plenty of debate about it being dirty or clean.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT
It’s unclear if this is a laughing matter or an injury.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
A positive trend on Saturday.
Mar 28, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT
Pittsburgh killed the penalty.
Mar 28, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT
Notes from a busy Saturday afternoon.
Mar 28, 2015, 1:13 PM EDT
Nashville’s in a great position to clinch a playoff spot.
Mar 28, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT
The really busy Saturday matinee edition.
Mar 28, 2015, 12:09 PM EDT
Nashville will aim to clinch without him.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:55 AM EDT
Four teams look to punch their ticket on Saturday.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT
Just what the doctor ordered.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
They face the desperate Bruins today.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:03 AM EDT
He’s a healthy scratch for Saturday.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT
St. Louis gets Carl Gunnarsson back, too.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:29 AM EDT
Now that’s a “hockey face.”
Mar 28, 2015, 2:16 AM EDT
A round-up of scores from Friday’s NCAA action.
Mar 28, 2015, 12:52 AM EDT
They’re in Vancouver to face the Canucks on Saturday.
Mar 28, 2015, 12:08 AM EDT
Crawford pulled in the first period.
Mar 27, 2015, 11:28 PM EDT
Crawford was pulled late in the first period.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT
That’s a blow to Calgary’s post-season hopes.
Mar 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
Nine points since joining Florida.
- Letang banged up by Doan hit 0
- Happy returns: Datsyuk plays for Detroit 0
- Gearing up: Malkin, Hornqvist return for Pens 0
- The King is back: Lundqvist starts for Rangers Saturday 8
- Five big games to watch this weekend 7
- Video: Kessel, Booth get into altercation at Leafs practice 34
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- After Howard fails to ‘bounce back,’ Mrazek to receive ‘opportunity’ 36
- Bruins can’t hold Ducks off, suffer sixth loss in a row 32
- Ticket punched: Rangers become first team to clinch 2015 playoff berth 16
- Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’ (73)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (58)
- Red Wings beat Blues in OT, but should winning goal count? (56)
- Tank-worthy? Connor McDavid finishes OHL season with 120 points in 47 games (56)
- Report: No fine or suspension for Tyler Toffoli’s hit on Alex Burrows (51)