By Allan Muir
If you’re looking for a major reason why Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi has reportedly axed fourth-year general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, you really only needed to glance around the stands at the American Airlines Center on Saturday night. Two colorful clues made it obvious: Grey, as in the thousands of empty seats, and red, as in the jerseys and shirts worn by the majority of fans who showed up to support the visiting Detroit Red Wings.
Gaglardi spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars to purchase the Stars about 18 months ago with an eye on rebuilding a flagging brand. This scene, reminiscent of so many others during his brief tenure, wasn’t what he had in mind. Neither was a team that ended a fifth straight season without a playoff berth after 3-0 loss to the hated Wings.
In Dallas, a town where hockey has always had to struggle for attention, the Stars have finally collapsed into irrelevance. Gaglardi knew he couldn’t sell the same weak tea next season.
He had to be able to offer a significantly different product. And he had to start with a change at the top.