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.
Jun 18, 2013, 12:31 AM EDT
The Detroit Red Wings are “very close” to signing star forward Pavel Datsyuk to a “multi-year” contract extension, MLive.com reports (by way of Datsyuk’s agent Gary Greenstin). “Me and Ken [Holland] and Pavel (are) very close,” Greenstin said. Datsyuk’s Twitter feed teases as much, as this message from Monday suggests. Big day tomorrow… — Pavel Datsyuk (@Datsyuk13)…
Jun 18, 2013, 12:02 AM EDT
Just a “wild night” for a Black Ace.
Jun 18, 2013, 12:02 AM EDT
Odd timing, but big news.
Jun 18, 2013, 12:00 AM EDT
Led by Patrice Bergeron, who scored a goal and was practically unbeatable in the faceoff circle.
Jun 17, 2013, 11:57 PM EDT
Dennis Seidenberg: “It feels like sandpaper.”
Jun 17, 2013, 11:43 PM EDT
“It’s a low-chance game and a low-chance series,” he said.
Jun 17, 2013, 11:33 PM EDT
Joel Quenneville said it was “definitely not good.”
Jun 17, 2013, 11:20 PM EDT
He was a game-time decision for Game 3.
Jun 17, 2013, 10:50 PM EDT
A masterful performance by Boston.
Jun 17, 2013, 10:15 PM EDT
Both are much-hyped forwards from Cole Harbour, Novia Scotia.
Jun 17, 2013, 10:10 PM EDT
He owns fifth place with 197 points.
Jun 17, 2013, 9:57 PM EDT
Big results for his line with Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly.
Jun 17, 2013, 9:26 PM EDT
Does that mean it could fall through?
Jun 17, 2013, 8:16 PM EDT
Big (and surprising) loss for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Jun 17, 2013, 7:23 PM EDT
Chris Mason’s amazing beard couldn’t mask lousy numbers.
Jun 17, 2013, 6:26 PM EDT
Multiple sources expect buyouts for Ilya Bryzgalov and Daniel Briere.
Jun 17, 2013, 5:17 PM EDT
23-year-old was the club’s second-round pick in 2008.
Jun 17, 2013, 5:04 PM EDT
Former Canucks bench boss cashes in.
Jun 17, 2013, 5:01 PM EDT
Just five days after acquiring him from the Islanders.
Jun 17, 2013, 4:39 PM EDT
Interesting, given he’s probably going to get traded this summer.
- Bruins go ‘above and beyond’ to take 2-1 series lead 5
- Chicago’s powerless power play — it’s a problem 1
- Discuss: Bruins smother ‘Hawks, take 2-1 series lead 41
- Marian Hossa won’t play in Game 3 11
- Report: Flyers, Streit agree to four-year, $21 million deal 36
- Playoffs Tonight: We’re tied going into Boston 9
- Writer: NHL playoffs are ‘annoying’ 74
- Blackhawks look to end current Game 3 curse 4
- Bruins’ leaders deliver Stanley Cup Final speech 14
- Report: NHL has Seattle plan ready for Coyotes 64
- Bruins stymie Blackhawks, take Game 3
- Survival and heartbreak at US Open
- PHT: Hossa day to day with upper-body injury
- Protesters back in streets of Brazilian cities
- Posnanski: More Open heartbreak for Mickelson
- Radio hosts fired for mocking ex-NFL player with ALS
- PBT: Unheralded Green could steal NBA Finals MVP