Many of the professional sports leagues have suffered due to the current global pandemic.
The NBA lost out on an exciting playoff picture with Luka appearing in his first playoff series and going against the Clippers. LeBron with the Lakers and preparing for an epic battle through the West.
MLS had just kicked off their 25th anniversary season and FC Dallas was looking to build off a great season that ended in heartbreak due to questionable officiating, not the first time.
MLB was gearing up for a season and trying to move on from the Astros disgraceful actions and the Rangers were gearing up to open up Globe Life Field.
Despite all these facts, the biggest losers are the NHL and the Dallas Stars.
Starting with the NHL, losing out on the playoffs hurts from a revenue point of view as there were projections the cap would actually increase next season instead of remaining flat.
The run-up to the playoffs was incredibly tight with many teams, especially in the Metropolitan Division constantly switching in top three spots almost on a game to game basis. The NHL is attempting to stay relevant in this world without sports, but it only really makes headlines when they announce their 15-day extensions.
The struggles of the NHL are clear, the commissioner is a failure and has been a failure for his entire tenure. Three lockouts under his watch and the NHL marketing is disgraceful. The potential of the league is so much greater, but the fact is the game has grown in spite of the efforts of the commissioner. Recently the WNBA held its virtual draft that was well executed and done by the league in partnership with ESPN. The commissioner, only on the job for nine months, understands what the league needs to do. Market, market, market.
Gary Bettman does not understand how to market the league and fans have been calling for his job longer than Cowboys fans were calling for Jason Garrett’s. Currently, the league is discussing when to hold the draft when they have yet to even decide if the season will commence. The NHL is a disorganized mess. It is a disgrace and disservice to the fans of hockey who deserve so much better. If you have doubts as to the failures of the NHL, see if you can answer the following question: Who is the face of the NHL? Exactly. There seemingly is not one answer. His focus is on securing money and revenue with no regard whatsoever for actual player safety.
The Dallas Stars are losers for a few different reasons.
The team entered this hiatus on a downturn. The offense is bad as is the coaching leading the team to lose six straight games and in a free fall.
The team wasted the good stretch they had in February to at least provide some cushion, but Dallas was allowing the Preds and Jets to gain ground while missing a chance to win the division. It was likely the team would turn things around and make the playoffs, but their chances when they arrived were anyone’s guess. While they swept the Avs in the regular season, two of those wins came when the Avalanche weren’t at full health.
It was an important reason for the Stars for a different reason. The Cowboys finished another disappointing season but finally moved on from Jason Garrett. The Rangers were opening up Globe Life Field. Luka was set to make his first playoff appearance. FC Dallas was off to a good start and was ready to build off a successful season while celebrating its 25th season in MLS. Media attention was quite crowded and the Stars needed to stick out to continue to grow while their window for a Stanley Cup is open. They still potentially have a chance to make it happen by bringing a Cup to Dallas, but with the current coaching staff, it is an uphill battle.
Growing the fanbase and winning the Stanley Cup should be the two most important goals for the organization. While the Stars fanbase has grown over the last few years, the team can do more and should do more to help that along. Winning helps obviously, but also interacting with fans and having a larger social media presence adds to that as well. A strong contingent of Stars fans is constantly annoyed at the lack of interaction, interesting content, and just overall blah from the social media team.
Last season Jim Montgomery expressed frustration at his inability to change “The Culture of Mediocrity”. While his comments perhaps should not have been expressed publicly, especially since it was out of frustration, the fact is he was right. The Dallas Stars as an organization over the past decade have been mediocre. 3 playoff appearances in a decade is not good enough. Stars fans have long been patient enough and it is time for the organization to do a few things.
Dallas needs to understand where they are in the pecking order and acknowledge its place. This does not mean being content with where they are, but more so accept it and work towards growing and improving. Management cannot continue to think they are doing a good enough job for the fact is, they are not. The expectations need to be raised and worked towards being met otherwise the Stars will remain stagnant.
Additionally, Dallas needs to have greater accountability within the organization. This does not mean only the players, but the management personnel as well. The entire organization needs to set a standard and meet it. Fan events need to more prominent and more inclusive. People need to feel like they do not need to be a season ticket holder in order to receive perks all the time.
In order to grow the fanbase, you have to try and appeal to the non-hockey people. People who like sports but maybe never really decided to give hockey a chance. Its time for Dallas to get back to its roots and embrace finding new fans and retaining those fans while also satisfying the long time fans. Until the organization acknowledges and embraces these ideas and others, the culture of mediocrity will likely continue for a long time.
Given the time off, it is a time for reflection and generating new ideas. Yes, the league should devote resources to determine how to restart the season or if they should even have a season. But to continually ignore shortcomings is an error that the league needs to address. The Stars need to think about their own shortcomings and how to continue to help build the fanbase.
Taking the time to experiment and try new things is something the team can afford to do given the downtime.
Time will tell if the NHL and Dallas Stars are content with mediocrity or strive for greatness.
Featured Image: Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports