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04/29/2013

New Dallas Stars GM has to change the apathy that surrounds this team

940xDALLAS, Texas - Approximately 8,323 people attended the introductory press conference for new Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill, nearly all of whom were members of the Stars organization. There is not a lack of caring or desire among the many good people that run this franchise. The issue is on the outside.

Nill was formally introduced as the new GM of the Stars on Monday morning at the American Airlines Center. He has a five-year contract to change what has troubled this team for so long few can remember – no one pays enough attention to put pressure on this team to win. No one is calling anybody out.

“We talk about it all the time; if we don’t demand it then nobody else is going to do it,” Stars president Jim Lites said Sunday.

Everybody from the players and coaches makes six to seven figures, and are quite comfortable with winning or losing because their standard of living is so high. The core fan base is so small and loyal that it’s not big enough to make a dent, and the members of the media that say a word make even less of an impression.

Dallas-Stars-arenaThis problem is not specific to the Dallas Stars. A lot of teams in non-traditional markets fight it. People don't care enough to be mad. A very select few members of the media says a word about this team because to do is to risk alienating fans who want to hear about something else.

That’s just hockey in non-traditional markets. If the pressure and the demand to win does not come from within the organization, not enough external stressors exist to demand real change.

Stars owner Tom Gaglardi realizes a malaise is draped over the team. He sounds like a man, who having owned this team for about 18 months, is ready to raise expectations and make demands.

"The bar has to be higher," he told me after the press conference on Monday. "Great teams expect to win. If you do it properly and get to the top you can be hard to knock off. People in Detroit expected to win. The danger is if you don't win and let it go on for too long it can get tougher. You have to raise the bar."

Jim Nill should be a good hire because he comes from such a winning franchise, the Detroit Red Wings, that expects to win every year and does.

He also arrives at the right time. The team is stacked with quality young players. This team is loaded with wingers and defensemen. There are also high draft picks to find a quality centermen, or two.

I do not believe that Nill would have taken this job had he not felt the roster was right on the edge of moving up. He cherry picked his opportunity to leave the Detroit Red Wings because he knew there was tremendous potential to win with the Stars right now, and for a long while.

Hopefully he can make people care enough about hockey again to at least be mad.

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