By: Luke Johns
At the moment the current playoff picture has no Canadian teams and includes three California teams, two Florida teams, a Tennessee team and a Texas team. That is unusual without a doubt. That Texas team is the Dallas Stars and they provide an excellent opportunity for hockey to become more prevalent in the south.
The Stars have been near the top of the Central division all season and entering Thursday they occupy the top seed in the Western Conference. Their success this season has put them in a good position to make a deep playoff run and are filled with young talent with the bulk of those contracts, besides Alex Goligoski, aren’t coming off the books until 2017. They’re in a good position to win now and win in the future.
They’re an excellent opportunity for the NHL to market them as the team of the south. Nevermind they’re potential success for years to come, they have one of the more marketable players in the NHL in Tyler Seguin. The Dallas center has enjoyed publicity that includes being featured in ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue, attendee at the ESPYs and the Playboy Mansion as well as playing a cameo role in Goon 2. Some other minor marketable characteristics on his resume read having his own publicist and being the only hockey player in attendance at a Los Angeles party filled with prominent professional athletes. The main takeaway from all that is Seguin stands out in a league that has a reputation for its players diverting attention.
While his pervasive fame is partially from his personality, it wouldn’t come without his 233 points during his 222 games in Dallas. With the combination of the best team in the Western Conference and its best player being as popular as he is, marketing firms would be foolish to not take a chance on the Stars for a hockey campaign they may run.
Sure it’s a bit of a risk since the Stars future success isn’t guaranteed and Dallas isn’t a well-known hockey market at the moment, but if nothing else there are so many favorable characteristics that make this penny stock scenario filled with potential. They’re the only NHL team in the biggest state in the continental U.S. so with the right marketing strategies the Stars will appeal to a lot of people, they play in a city big enough to have four professional sports teams, they have the aforementioned marketable individual player in Tyler Seguin (which sells jerseys, leading to Dallas Stars exposure) and saw nearly a 20 percent rise in average attendance from 2013-14 to this season. On to of all that they have a chance to be one of the top teams in the league for years to come. Everything seems to be looking up in Dallas so the NHL and marketing firms would be smart to get a head start and feature the Stars in commercials and campaigns more often.
Everyone knows it takes winning to draw interest to a sports organization. The extreme example is the Blackhawks going from 29th in attendance in 2005-06 to first these days thanks to three Stanley Cups in six years and having superstar players in their prime. While its true Chicago has the marketing advantage of being an original six franchise, we’ve seen with the Stars that winning does draw fans to the arena and common sense tells us sustained winning keeps the interest at a high level.
Some of the best business decisions ever made involved some level of risk taking. And as a strategic communications major I can’t help but think that investing in the Dallas Stars in a sports and entertainment promotion context could lead to an incredible return with the potential interest hockey fans and U.S. citizens in the south could have in the Stars organization.
All the chips are falling into place for the Stars to be considered an elite team from a marketing perspective. They’re an up and coming franchise in all regards relating to what fans want in a team to root for. It’s just a matter of whether or not the NHL and other firms will be ahead of the curve and market them to casual hockey fans that don’t already have a team they religiously root for.