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 11, 2013, 12:41 PM EST
He’ll undergo tests when the team returns to Detroit.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:21 PM EST
No word yet if permission has been granted.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:05 PM EST
Former Devils alternate captain speaks his mind.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:47 AM EST
Leaves the AHL as its leading scorer.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:28 AM EST
Morgan Rielly to follow?
Dec 11, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
It’s been quite the goalie carousel since 2010.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:59 AM EST
Minnesota has just five wins from 14 games away from Xcel this season.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:45 AM EST
He’d be a huge get for Team Sweden.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:24 AM EST
His job might be safe despite the team’s struggles.
Dec 11, 2013, 9:43 AM EST
Both players might be suspended for their actions last night.
Dec 11, 2013, 9:13 AM EST
This is his third suspension.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:40 AM EST
These two teams have gone on very different paths since the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:02 AM EST
Wednesday’s collection of links.
Dec 11, 2013, 1:36 AM EST
They beat the Sharks 3-2 via a shootout.
Dec 11, 2013, 12:25 AM EST
His Bruins beat Calgary 2-1 on Tuesday.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:47 PM EST
Ben Scrivens must feel a little less special.
Dec 10, 2013, 11:14 PM EST
He said this is his worst stretch with the team.
Dec 10, 2013, 10:36 PM EST
Dec 10, 2013, 10:33 PM EST
Nashville ends a five-game skid.
Dec 10, 2013, 10:02 PM EST
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 4
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 12
- Update: Ryan Callahan out 4-6 weeks with MCL sprain 10
- Ovechkin wills Caps to stunning shootout win vs. Bolts 61
- Bettman: No decision on expansion, but they’re listening 13
- Neal admits kneeing Marchand was ‘not the smartest decision’ 77
- Leafs captain Phaneuf suspended two games for boarding 37
- Rangers confirm Staal suffered concussion 8
- Winnipeg to get outdoor game; Phoenix wants one 33
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head 156
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (137)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)