Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/23/12 at 12:25 PM ET
from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
The Stars once operated a really nice franchise, the bellwether for the so-called non-traditional market teams. They were more than hardy playoff perennials. They were champions, in 1999, and they were Western Conference cornerstones, with Detroit and Colorado, at a time when the East sometimes seemed like it was the junior varsity. Now, just as the organization badly stubs its toe by missing the playoffs since a run to the 2008 conference final, the Texas Rangers keep playing into October—“I honestly didn’t know what the Texas Rangers were until three years ago,” Stars pot-stirrer Steve Ott says—and Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks win the NBA championship, taking some of the money off of the table and sucking most of the oxygen out of the room.
The Stars have not lost their way under general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, who has scrambled to keep the team a contender for a playoff spot, but they have lost their place at the adults’ table in their own city. While the Texas Rangers were able to build themselves into a money-spending monster in the wake of an ownership change, the Stars have not rebounded vigorously since Tom Hicks’ sports properties melted down. (Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi bought the team out of bankruptcy last November.) The season-ticket base has shrunk by half from the glory years, to roughly 6,000.
Currently the Stars rank 28th in total attendance, ahead of only the New York Islanders, who play in the Nassau Coliseum Crypt, and the wards-of-the-league, the Phoenix Coyotes. In terms of percentage of seats filled, however, Dallas is last. The Stars are the only team that draws—officially, anyway—below 80 per cent of capacity.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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