DALLAS STARS. The Dallas Stars, a professional hockey team, belong to the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League. The franchise, originally known as the Minnesota North Stars, began play during the 1967–1968 season when the NHL added six expansion teams, thereby doubling in size. The franchise moved to Dallas before the 1993–94 season. Professional hockey in Dallas dates back to 1941, when the Dallas Texans joined the minor-league American Hockey Association. The debut occurred at Fair Park Ice Arena on November 6, 1941, when the Texans played against the St. Paul Saints in front of a crowd of more than 4,000 spectators. However, World War II caused the cancellation of league play until the 1945–46 season, when the Texans resumed play as members of the United States Hockey League. Due to travel costs, however, the Texans (along with teams in Fort Worth and Houston) dropped out of the USHL following the 1948–49 season. The Chicago Blackhawks of the NHL operated a minor-league team called the Dallas Blackhawks in the Central Hockey League from 1967 to 1982. The CHL returned to Dallas in 1992 with a team called the Dallas Freeze, but that team ceased operations after the 1993–94 season.
During their twenty-six seasons in Minnesota, the North Stars twice won division titles (in 1981–82 and 1983–84) and twice reached the final round of the playoffs (in 1980–81 and 1990–91), but never won a Stanley Cup, symbol of the NHL championship. In their first season in Dallas under the guidance of coach and general manager Bob Gainey, the Stars finished third in the Central Division, though they fell to fifth the following season and to sixth, missing the playoffs, in 1995–96. In December 1995 owner Norman Green sold the team to media mogul Tom Hicks, also the owner of the Texas Rangersqv baseball team. Shortly thereafter, Gainey hired Ken Hitchcock to assume the coaching duties. The change paid off almost immediately. Beginning with the 1996–97 season, the Stars established themselves as one of the elite teams in the NHL. In 1998–99 they posted the best regular season record in the NHL (51–19–12) and claimed their first Stanley Cup championship, winning in six games over the Buffalo Sabres. Center Joe Nieuwendyk won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player, and Hitchcock was named Coach of the Year by the Hockey News. They reached the finals again the following year but lost to the New Jersey Devils in six games. By the end of the 2000–2001 season they had won five divisional titles in a row. At the beginning of the 2001–2002 season the Stars left their longtime venue of Reunion Arena and played in the new American Airlines Center.
In early 2002, amidst team and management disputes, Bob Gainey fired Coach Ken Hitchcock and then resigned as general manager. Doug Armstrong was immediately appointed general manager, and Dave Tippett was hired as head coach at the end of the season. The Stars rebounded to reach the playoffs in 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2007. In November 2007, however, Doug Armstrong was dismissed as general manager, and assistant general manager Les Jackson and former Stars player Brett Hull were named as interim co-general managers. The team made it to the Western Conference finals in 2008 but lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six games. In 2009, after a dismal season plagued with injuries, Dave Tippett was fired by new general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, and Marc Crawford was named the new coach.
The Stars have their own anthem, the "Dallas Stars Fight Song," penned by the metro-area metal group Pantera during the team's 1999 Stanley Cup run. The popular and longtime announcing team of Ralph Strangis and color commentator Daryl "Razor" Reaugh (known as "Ralph and Razor") broadcast simultaneously on television and radio—making the Dallas Stars one of only a handful of professional sports teams in the nation to offer simultaneous broadcasts. In 2007 the city of Dallas and the American Airlines Center hosted the NHL All-Star Game.
A number of key players have won NHL awards, including Jere Lehtinen who won the Selke Trophy for Best Defensive Forward in 1998, 1999, and 2003, and goalie Marty Turco who had the best save percentage in the NHL in 2001 and 2003. By 2005 franchise player forward Mike Modano, born in Livonia, Michigan, was the only remaining team member who had also played for the Minnesota North Stars. Selected as first overall draft pick by the North Stars in 1988, Modano broke the record for the highest number of goals scored by an American-born player (a total of 503 goals) in 2007. He also holds the record for the most points scored by an American-born player.
The Dallas Stars had three minor-league affiliate teams set for the 2009–2010 season. An American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Texas Stars, was located in Cedar Park, Texas. The Allen Americans of the CHL hailed from Allen, Texas. The Idaho Steelheads of Boise, Idaho, were a Stars affiliate in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL).
Stars: The Official Web Site (http://stars.nhl.com/index.html), accessed July 8, 2009. Dan Diamond, ed., Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League (Kansas City: Andrews McMeel, 1998).