Dallas Stars hockey

An article by Jason S. Sullivan, 06-30-19

1999 Stanley Cup Champions

June 19, 1999 – the Dallas Stars beat the Buffalo Sabres in triple-overtime of Game 6 to win their first Stanley Cup Championship.

To celebrate the 20th Anniversary, I wanted to reflect on my love of the team and how it all started for me.

Before hockey

Growing up, I liked basketball. I was a die-hard fan of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Watching MJ in the 1990s was magical. Thanks to YouTube, I can relieve those unbelievable highlights. 

While watching Michael Jordan and the other icons from that era of basketball, something happened. The Minnesota North Stars hockey team moved to Dallas in 1993 and became the Dallas Stars. I didn’t even notice. I couldn’t follow two different sports, especially since the NBA and NHL seasons overlap. I couldn’t relate to ice hockey, anyway. I never played it as a kid, although, I did play some street hockey with the neighborhood kids. 

When Michael Jordan retired from the Bulls in 1999, I lost interest in sports. It wasn’t the same for me. I didn’t follow sports much after that. But, about 2006 is when I discovered hockey. I’ve been a fan ever since. 

It all begins

Believe it or not, my love of hockey started with video games. A friend of mine liked hockey and the Dallas Stars. I’d go over to his house on Friday nights. We’d play NHL 2K6 on PlayStation. I didn’t care about video games, but I liked playing the hockey game. So, this became the Friday night ritual. We’d play this video game for hours every Friday night. I’m competitive anyway, but this game brought out a really competitive side in me. I hated to lose against my buddy in this game. We probably played a few hundred games against each other over the years.

The progression 

Playing a video game was fun, so I started watching the games on TV. The games on TV were exciting to watch. Being from the Dallas area, I wanted to support our local team.

After playing video games and watching it on TV, obviously, the next step is to go to a game. 

I went to my first game on December 10, 2007. The Stars beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-4 in Overtime. Since it was my first game, I splurged and got decent seats. (Nowadays, I usually settle for the cheap seats.)

Ticket stub from my first game.

The atmosphere at a Stars game is incredible. It’s one of the most exciting sports to watch live. Since then, I’ve to about 10 games or so.

Here are the ticket stubs I saved – and that made it home from Dallas!

Ticket stubs saved over the years.

Hockey in Texas

Football is big in Texas, especially the Dallas Cowboys. Don’t forget, the Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1993, 1994, and 1996.

The Dallas Stars have always had a die-hard fanbase. It doesn’t seem logical. You have a team from Minnesota that relocates to Dallas. They’re a new professional team – moving to a state that generally bleeds for football – and one of their biggest competitors is a famous, Super Bowl winning, football team. Not to mention, hockey seems to be the least popular of the Big Four Professional Sports Leagues in the US and Canada – NHL, NBA, MLB, and NHL.

NHL hockey wasn’t on the radar in Texas in 1993. But, hockey wasn’t brand new to Texas either. I was surprised to find out that hockey in Dallas goes back to 1941 with the Dallas Texans (1941-1942 American Hockey Association and 1945-1949 United States Hockey League.) 

[The gap from 1942-1945? World War II. The American Hockey Association returned as the United States Hockey League after the war.]

The Dallas Texans played their first game on November 6, 1941, against the St. Paul Saints at Fair Park Ice Arena in Dallas. Ticket prices ranged from 55 cents for general admission to $2.25 for boxes or rinkside seats. (Come on, let’s have one game a season with throwback prices to 1941!) Check out this article about the Early Dallas Hockey History. It’s a fun and informative read.

A bit more recent than that, I was also surprised to learn that the Central Hockey League had a presence in the area with the Dallas Black Hawks (1967-1982) and Fort Worth Wings (1967-1974) – who then became the Fort Worth Texans (1974-1982.) These bitter rivals helped pave the way for the Dallas Stars. The Hockey Writers website states, “Both teams were known for their rowdy behavior with brawls breaking out both on ice and in the stands.” That’s my kind of hockey. (It also reminds me of the movie Slap Shot with Paul Newman!) Then, of course, there’s the infamous 10-Cent Beer Night near-riot at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth between the two teams in 1978. I couldn’t find the whole story about that night, which really just adds to the mystique and allure of the entire thing. And, what better rivalry than Dallas vs. Fort Worth?

The Dallas Black Hawks and Fort Worth Texans ended in 1982. Ten years later in 1992, the Central Hockey League brought hockey back to the area with the Dallas Freeze and Fort Worth Fire. The NHL would soon follow, with the Minnesota North Stars relocating to Dallas in 1993. The Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars. 

Minor and Junior league hockey is still prevalent in the area today, with the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL and Allen Americans of the ECHL. Plus, there are Dallas Stars Starcenters (community ice skating rinks) in eight cities in the metroplex. They offer skating, as well as hockey leagues for kids and adults. Hockey is more significant than ever in North Texas.

Euphoric highs and crushing lows

Hockey is a sport where the highs are euphoric, and the lows are crushing.

I love the history of the team and reading about it or watching highlights from past seasons.

Since I didn’t become a Stars fan until around 2006, I missed out on the first half of their history in Dallas. 

Looking back at the Stars 25+ year history in Dallas, it’s had its ups and downs.

One of my favorite pieces of Dallas Stars memorabilia.

Dallas Stars – a brief history

(check out more at NHL.com)

The Stars first season in Dallas was a success, especially since they made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 1993-1994 season. Making the playoffs in your first season in Texas? Yeah, that will get the fans excited. That’s the way to introduce the team and NHL hockey to Texas!

The Stars continued to have some impressive years, especially in the beginning. They won the Stanley Cup in 1999, after only a few seasons in Dallas. They made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals the following year but lost to the New Jersey Devils in six games. Those two seasons were the only ones that resulted in a trip to the finals.

In the first 15 years in Dallas, the Stars made the playoffs almost every season. Only the 1995-1996, 2001-2002, and 2004-2005 seasons did not result in a playoff appearance – although you can’t count 2004 as the whole NHL season was canceled.

The Stars made it to the Conference Finals in the 2007-2008 season but lost to the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit went on to win the Stanley Cup.

The 2008-2012 seasons were a struggle. The Stars didn’t make the playoffs for five straight years.

The Stars made the playoffs in the 2013-2014 season but lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the First Round.

The Stars didn’t make the playoffs in the 2014-2015 season.

Things rebounded in the 2015-2016 season. The Stars made it to the Second Round of the playoffs but lost to the St. Louis Blues.

The 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons had disappointment, as the Stars missed the playoffs in both seasons.

2018-2019 was a successful season for the Stars. Despite a solid effort, and an impressive run in the playoffs, they fell short. The beat the Nashville Predators in the First Round of the playoffs. Similar to the 2015-2016 season, they lost to the St. Louis Blues in the Second Round. This time, though, St. Louis went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Looking to the future

Coming off the best season we’ve had in years, fans and players have high expectations for the 2019-2020 season. There’s momentum in the air – and unfinished business. The Stars have the talent, skill, and discipline to make it to the playoffs. This is a team that can compete at a high level against any other in the league. The Stars are a hungry team with potential. What’s missing? What’s the missing ingredient to go from where we are back to Stanley Cup Champions? 

Winter Classic

Since 2008, the Winter Classic is an annual outdoor game played on January 1st.

The Dallas Stars host the Nashville Predators on January 1, 2020, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It will be the first NHL Winter Classic played in the south and the first for both teams.

The Stars and Predators are division rivals. It will be an exciting game, and a memorable milestone for the team, notably since Dallas eliminated Nashville from the 2018-2019 playoffs.

Memorable players over the years. 

The former and current roster is filled with memorable players. Mike Modano, Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott, Marty Turco, Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn. The list goes on.

Mike Modano

For many people, Mike Modano was a big part of the early appeal. He is the franchise leader for Goals (557), Assists (802), and Points (1,359). Not only that, but finished his career with the most points and goals for any American-born player in the entire NHL. He’s up there with some of the great ones of all time. He’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame and considered of the 100 Greatest Players in the NHL. I get a little teary-eyed watching the Stars retire his jersey number and lift his banner to the rafters. He’s an icon in the history of Dallas sports.

Dallas Stars by the numbers:

(HockeyDB.com and NHL.com)

  • 25 seasons in Dallas (2004-2005 NHL season canceled)
  • 1,024 regular season wins
  • 2 Presidents’ Trophies (most points in the regular season)
  • 15 playoff appearances
  • 8 Division Championships 
  • 2 Western Conference Championships
  • 2 trips to Stanley Cup Finals
  • 1 Stanley Cup Championship

My favorite sport

These days, the only sport I follow is hockey. I don’t even watch the Super Bowl.

Hockey is a sport that I didn’t even notice at first. Now, it’s my favorite sport. I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for the game. 

My favorite team

Twenty years ago, my favorite team won their first (and only, so far) Stanley Cup. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t a hockey fan 20 years ago. I missed out on that experience. I’ll just have to make up for it when I celebrate their next Stanley Cup!

Maybe the Stars aren’t the best team in the league, or the most popular, but they’re my favorite team. Thousands of people in the Dallas area and beyond would agree. 

The Stars also have the best – and heaviest – goal song. How can you go wrong with a goal song called “Puck Off,” by Pantera, with riffs from a few of their songs, and the lyrics – “Dallas! Stars!” Check out Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul talk about the song.

Go to any Stars game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas and the atmosphere is electric. I don’t make it to as many games as I would like, but I love going. I went to Opening Night last season for the first time, and plan to do it again this year. See ya there! Go Stars! Let’s bring the Stanley Cup back to Dallas!

Be loud. Wear green. Go Stars.

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