Feb 17, 2013, 5:30 AM EST
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 2, 2015, 6:49 PM EST
Quite a rebound from a scary lacerated arm.
Mar 2, 2015, 5:59 PM EST
“We were looking to upgrade, add more of a veteran presence.”
Mar 2, 2015, 5:49 PM EST
“It’s just hard to get a deal done, and you see the prices are so high.”
Mar 2, 2015, 5:25 PM EST
Was it just a sellers’ market?
Mar 2, 2015, 5:10 PM EST
He gets a no-trade clause in the first year of the deal.
Mar 2, 2015, 5:09 PM EST
“Devastating” news for the Calgary Flames.
Mar 2, 2015, 4:47 PM EST
He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent after this season.
Mar 2, 2015, 4:00 PM EST
All the latest leading up to 3 p.m. ET…
Mar 2, 2015, 3:57 PM EST
They were “adamant” about bolstering their blue line.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:44 PM EST
Second trade of the day for Boston.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:38 PM EST
Former 13th overall pick.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:20 PM EST
A 31-year-old for a 23-year-old.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:15 PM EST
For the price of a second-round pick in 2017.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:07 PM EST
Busy day for Montreal.
Mar 2, 2015, 3:06 PM EST
Speedy winger was rumored to be a trade deadline target.
Mar 2, 2015, 2:58 PM EST
Kids. They do the darndest things.
Mar 2, 2015, 2:43 PM EST
Has only been to the playoffs once in his career.
Mar 2, 2015, 2:38 PM EST
New York gets Mark Louis in the deal.
Mar 2, 2015, 2:23 PM EST
It’s the veteran’s third team this season.
Mar 2, 2015, 2:18 PM EST
Couple of minor-league forwards switch clubs.
- Rutherford: ‘Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring’ Lovejoy 11
- Winners and losers of the 2015 trade deadline 29
- Giordano to have surgery, is ‘done for the season’ 15
- PHT’s 2015 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker 27
- Ducks get their veteran d-man, adding Wisniewski from Columbus 11
- Lovejoy returns to Pittsburgh for Despres 46
- Wild get Stewart as Buffalo-to-Minnesota pipeline continues 44
- Jordan Leopold’s daughter may have orchestrated the Minnesota trade 14
- Wings get Zidlicky from Devils 64
- Can the Wings and Leafs work out a deal for Phaneuf? 45
- Wild beat Avs, dying seconds fight set stage for rematch (168)
- Petrovic: Chicago will ‘probably seek revenge’ for Kane injury tonight (82)
- Trade: Blackhawks acquire Vermette from Arizona for Dahlbeck, first rounder (74)
- Report: Alex Petrovic avoids discipline after injuring Patrick Kane (69)
- Trade: Rangers land Yandle, Coyotes receive Duclair, first-rounder (69)