Feel free to question some of the moves made by Dallas Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, but it would be difficult to doubt this man’s sincerity. Joe can admit he is an out-of-the-closet, proud fan of the rock band Nickelback.
GM Joe was spotted in the crowd when Nickelback played the American Airlines Center in June.
“Yeah, that was me. Canadians support their own,” Joe said. “Back in the day, we were really close with those guys. They are big Stars fans. They’re pretty cool.”
So the Stars can recruit Chad Kroeger and his Canadian crew to support the green and gold, yet exciting the locals to support the professional local hockey club remains a great challenge.
This is what happens when you don’t make the playoffs for four consecutive seasons.
If the Stars are going to rejoin the greater Metroplex market now as real players, they would be wise to take advantage of what could be their best opportunity to be relevant since the mid-’90s.
In what may be the first time since the Mavericks and Stars relocated to the American Airlines Center, the ticket-buying audience may be more enticed to watch hockey than basketball.
That is if the Stars can finally put a real winner on the ice, and the NHL doesn’t shoot itself in the foot in the next couple of months with a labor dispute that could delay the start of the season.
Unlike the final decade of Reunion Arena when the Stars were the hot ticket and the Mavs were mostly a joke, we are witnessing the early stages of a franchise reversal.
“I can kind of see that a little bit with the Stars and Mavs; the last two weeks didn’t go the way the Mavs were hoping,” retired center Mike Modano said on the day it was announced he would be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Congrats, sir. This was a no-brainer; the bigger deal will be when he goes into the Pro Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, but that is a few years away.
“All organizations go through peaks and valleys and cycles. When young players come in, you have to be patient and let them develop. The Stars have done that and now they have a really nice, young nucleus.”
Or we think they do. We have been told for the past year or so how much quality this farm system is producing, yet with the exception of Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, we should all be a bit skeptical. Four consecutive playoff-less seasons should make everyone a bit skeptical.
But between all of this young talent and the many moves and acquisitions the team has made during the off-season -- Jaromir Jagr, Derek Roy, Ray Whitney -- should finally put this team into the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Mavs’ much-lamented off-season has them in a position to potentially miss the playoffs for the first time since 2000, which was the year the Stars lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Mavs’ signing free agent center Chris Kaman doesn’t really change much.
It all has the potential of replicating the days when the Stars, not the Mavs, were this town’s wintertime winner and more relevant team.
“It does feel a little like 1999 when Tom Hicks took over and got the ball rolling,” Nieuwendyk said. “We have the ball rolling here now. (Owner) Tom Gaglardi has brought some stability. The young kids are coming and I do believe the patience with our young kids is going to pay off.”
This is not about Stars v. Mavs. It’s not about NHL v. NBA. The Stars and the NHL would lose both.
It is merely about winning.
The Mavs losing while the Stars win could just make it easier for the latter to regain some of the many fans the franchise has lost over the years.
“The team is really trying to change the perception that they have around the league,” Modano said.
What is that perception?
“That they are still in transition and there is no stability,” Modano said.
The two wrenches in this grand plan are: The Stars actually have to win, and the NHL can’t have another work stoppage.
MCT Information Services