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.
Jul 6, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT
Played 59 games for the Sabres last season.
Jul 6, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT
“He gets to come in and have a heck of a year and put the screws to us.”
Jul 6, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
They have the arena, but not the potential owner.
Jul 6, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT
Finished with a career-high 18 goals last season in Vancouver.
Jul 6, 2015, 9:58 AM EDT
Can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Jul 6, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
The 23-year-old could be in line for a significant raise.
Jul 6, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Monday’s collection of links.
Jul 5, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
He struggled in his first year pro split between the AHL and ECHL.
Jul 5, 2015, 8:06 PM EDT
He was bought out by Carolina last week.
Jul 5, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
He’ll make $650,000 at the NHL level and $250,000 in the AHL.
Jul 5, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
Hearings will take place in Toronto from July 20 to August 4
Jul 5, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
It’s reportedly a two-way contract worth $600,000.
Jul 5, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT
The deal will reportedly pay him $4.1 million next season.
Jul 5, 2015, 3:08 PM EDT
His peak came in 2013-14: 19 goals, 51 points.
Jul 5, 2015, 2:20 PM EDT
Perhaps Blue Jackets prospects can learn from his scrappy ways.
Jul 5, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT
Some depth for the Bolts.
Jul 5, 2015, 12:31 PM EDT
He shared his story (and struggles) this past week.
Jul 5, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT
It may leave them in a “cap vise.”
Jul 5, 2015, 10:49 AM EDT
That doesn’t guarantee that a hearing would take place, though.
Jul 5, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT
Brandon Dubinsky is the latest to pipe up.
- Leafs sign Matthias — one year, $2.3 million 5
- Report: Kopitar, Kings in ‘early stages of negotiations’ for extension 5
- Arbitration filed: Holtby, Nyquist & Stepan highlight list released by NHLPA 12
- Report: Plotnikov paid $500K to get out of KHL contract 13
- Philadelphia signs ’15 first rounder Provorov 11
- Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets 22
- Sharks sign Joel Ward to three-year deal 25
- Sabres lock up O’Reilly through 2022-23 74
- Locked in: Columbus signs Saad to six-year, $36M deal 28
- Oilers sign McDavid to entry-level contract 29
- Blockbuster: Kessel traded to the Penguins (131)
- Trade: Flyers send Rinaldo to Bruins for 2017 third-rounder (105)
- Trade: Jackets land Saad; Anisimov and Dano headed to Chicago (93)
- Bypassing a buyout? Kings terminate Richards’ contract for ‘material breach’ (90)
- Sabres lock up O’Reilly through 2022-23 (74)