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 11, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT
Whether he does or not will impact the Flyers’ roster.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT
A big defenseman from Lake Superior State.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
Burly power forward’s in the midst of a disappointing season.
Mar 11, 2014, 1:51 PM EDT
“It’s great to have him around,” said Wild head coach Mike Yeo.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:47 PM EDT
Dallas GM Jim Nill also released a statement.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:38 PM EDT
“We need to take this one, especially if there’s a four-point swing,” says d-man Brendan Smith.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:25 PM EDT
Rough season for him, to say the least.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
Suffered third straight loss on Monday night vs. Toronto.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT
“The fans won’t have it. The players won’t have it. And even if you hire a new GM, there is no way he’ll have it.”
Mar 11, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT
He thinks the Panthers have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup before he retires.
Mar 11, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
The Calgary Flames were already missing several forwards.
Mar 11, 2014, 9:12 AM EDT
Nothing’s official, but it sounds like he’ll stick with the Buffalo Sabres after all.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT
Washington desperately needs the two points.
Mar 11, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Mar 11, 2014, 2:26 AM EDT
It was mostly a night of disappointments
Mar 11, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
“We need to be men.”
Mar 11, 2014, 12:39 AM EDT
It just keeps getting worse.
Mar 11, 2014, 12:29 AM EDT
It’s an MCL injury, according to Patrick Roy.
Mar 10, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT
It’s also his first point since Jan. 10.
Mar 10, 2014, 10:14 PM EDT
At least they have Ales Hemsky.
- Wings can’t afford regulation loss to Jackets 4
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter 35
- NHL on NBCSN: Capitals fight to earn first win vs. Penguins in 26 months 10
- Vanquished: Isles stun Canucks with seven-goal third period 25
- Peverley asked to return to game following ‘cardiac event’ 23
- Peverley hospitalized, conscious after collapsing on Stars bench (Update) 17
- Sens’ Ceci won’t return after Weber’s shot lacerates his ear (Update) 8
- Gillis pleads his case: ‘We are enduring a challenging period’ 25
- Nolan gets a game for punching ‘unsuspecting’ Joensuu 45
- It doesn’t sound like 3-on-3 overtime is going to be a thing 39
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (71)
- Report: Flyers table ‘substantial offer’ for Kesler, also inquiring about Edler (59)