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.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:28 PM EST
With a hairline fracture in his ankle.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:13 PM EST
Along with builder Fran Rider, and former Swedish international Maria Rooth.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:59 AM EST
Former 20-goal scorer — and Stanley Cup winner — has been a bust in Nashville.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:51 AM EST
“It’s a pretty simple game I play, and if they’re not a fan of it, I’ve got to play somewhere else, I guess.”
Dec 18, 2014, 11:36 AM EST
Where he’ll play alongside Rangers forward Anthony Duclair.
Dec 18, 2014, 11:32 AM EST
The 21-year-old had three points in four games.
Dec 18, 2014, 10:47 AM EST
Thomas Greiss is being isolated in case he also has the ailment.
Dec 18, 2014, 9:49 AM EST
“He respected all of you unconditionally.”
Dec 18, 2014, 8:34 AM EST
Thursday’s collection of links.
Dec 18, 2014, 2:25 AM EST
Vancouver has now lost a season-high five straight.
Dec 18, 2014, 2:05 AM EST
Chris Stewart is one name, which has been linked to Boston.
Dec 18, 2014, 1:40 AM EST
He’s even walking under his own power according to the report.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:45 AM EST
Calgary signed Bob Hartley to a multi-year extension Wednesday.
Dec 18, 2014, 12:15 AM EST
The Devils have lost five straight.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:45 PM EST
Boston snaps three game skid.
Dec 17, 2014, 11:15 PM EST
Jason Akeson was in on the action for the Flyers’ affiliate.
Dec 17, 2014, 10:41 PM EST
New Jersey has lost five straight on home ice.
Dec 17, 2014, 10:15 PM EST
New Jersey has now lost five straight.
Dec 17, 2014, 9:30 PM EST
Detroit ranks 30th this season in fighting majors.
Dec 17, 2014, 8:45 PM EST
Marc-Andre Fleury is unavailable Thursday.
- Mark Howe on his father’s health: ‘He’s back in the ballgame’ 3
- Holland: ‘I’m not against fighting’ 8
- Preds’ Neal fined for diving 22
- After surprising start, Flames sign Hartley to multi-year contract extension 5
- Update your wallcharts: Rangers confirm Brassard has mumps 11
- Video: Coyotes defeat Oilers with 0.3 seconds remaining in OT 3
- It’s ‘unlikely’ Duncan Keith has the mumps, says Blackhawks coach 3
- Bjugstad scores the winner as Panthers, Capitals make history with 20-round shootout 21
- Yep, Beau Bennett has the mumps 24
- (Video) PHT Extra: Would the Oilers really trade Taylor Hall? 11