The much anticipated jersey unveiling from the Dallas Stars took place last night at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas and it was attended by an A-List of Stars players and staff, both past and present, including Owner, Tom Gaglardi, President and CEO, Jim Lites and new General Manager, Jim Nill. Emceed by play-by-play duo, Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh, the night was a celebration of where the Stars came from but most importantly, where they were heading. By the end of the evening, Stars fans were left with two new jerseys and already making plans for games in 2013-2014.
The night started with Ralph and Razor breaking down how the Stars got to the point where they were. After securing the team through bankruptcy hearings, Gaglardi immediately started working behind the scenes. Bringing back Mr. Lites was his first move, and in just the short time since officially coming on board, the tandem accomplished a 20% increase in attendance last year, which at one point was tops in the NHL (bear in mind, DFW is a fair-weather town and hockey was playing a lockout-shortened season). Most telling of their immediate impact is the fact that renewals for season tickets are up to 90%. Despite missing the playoffs for 5 consecutive seasons, the core groups of fans are energized to the point that 9 out of 10 season ticket holders have already renewed.
Jim Lites came out and talked about the upgrades to the American Airlines Center going on which will include 20 theater boxes in the Admiral’s Club sections. Also, the Stars will be looking to increase their “footprint” and will hold part of their training camp in Fort Worth with preseason games to be held in San Antonio versus the Florida Panthers (San Antonio houses Florida’s AHL affiliate) and Oklahoma City (hosts to Edmonton’s AHL, Barons). The “big announcement” that was to accompany the jersey unveiling really wasn’t a surprise as the team announced the official retirement of Mike Modano’s number 9 jersey will take place on March 8th, against (fittingly) the new division rivals of the Stars, the Minnesota Wild.
Next to join Razor on the stage was Jim Nill. Just as he was when StarsInsider.com spoke to him, Mr. Nill got straight to business indicating he was leaving town to conduct a couple of interviews for the head coaching vacancy, which he did indicate “was very close” to naming a new coach. Even a month after we spoke, you could see and hear the excitement in Jim’s voice as he talked about the amateur scout meeting gearing up the for the draft and how the youthful talent down in Cedar Park should have the fans excited for future postseason hockey in Dallas.
Finally, the moment of the night arrived as Mr. Gaglardi came on stage. He said the jersey process took just about a full year and had 256 different variations in terms of colors, logos and striping. Just as Jim Lites told us, Tom said he wanted a clean look that would stand the test of time. He pointed out that of all the logos, not one was produced in Dallas. They tinkered with many color schemes. The Stars looked at some reds and blues, especially since the other pro sports teams in Dallas incorporate blue, however, that was one deciding factor in not including a different color. The fans…the team…the history dictated that the Dallas Stars are green. But that wasn’t enough. Tom knew he wanted to make an impact. To reveal the new sweaters, perhaps the most “impactful” “models” came out in the new jerseys. Jamie Benn donned the home green while Mike Modano wore the road white. Tom knew the Wild had a forest green as a big part of their scheme and he heard all the comparisons to the “Celtic” green. Gaglardi wanted the Stars to “own” their own color.
Using Benn and Modano to display the new gear, Tom also talked about how the logo came to be. The logo was to be simple yet symbolic; classic yet futuristic. When the jerseys were being constructed, the Stars even conducted “tv tests” on the jerseys to make sure that whatever design they came to agree upon would show up the best over HD broadcasts. This was the primary reason for bevels in the “D” as the silver threading appears to cast a shadow and allows the jersey to “pop” at the viewer at home. When asked why silver, Tom replied, “When I look up into the sky, the stars look more silver than gold.” As cheesy as that may sound, it shows that the Stars finally have an owner that looks at just more than the bottom line.
Much of the feedback has been positive. There are some that are slower to embrace the change, and that’s perfectly wonderful. What’s most important is that the Stars are the talk of the town again. They have a fresh new look to go with their fresh new front office and fresh new players. Change is scary sometimes. People want their gold back. There are some that want the old logo back. If the Dallas Stars are going to move ahead into the future and back to the success they once had, it’s time to part ways with the past and move on. The 1999 Stanley Cup banner still hangs in the AAC and will forever have the logo from the Stars of the 90’s. But this isn’t that team anymore, just as that team wasn’t the North Stars when they moved down to Texas. Hockey evolves. The game, the equipment and the rules are constantly being reviewed to make it better. Will the jerseys make the Dallas Stars better? Maybe not, but this “ain’t your daddy’s Dallas Stars anymore.” Heck, there are some Stars that we all love that are now grandparents (sorry, Luddy). Tom Gaglardi has the Dallas Stars looking up and forward. As fans, it’s time we all do the same.