NHL Lockout 2012: The Off-Ice Issues

The first in a series looking at how a potential year-long lockout would affect the Dallas Stars as a team and an organization.

The Dallas Stars mismanagement and their overall poor play as a whole in the last few years have killed the team's casual fan base in the city, although the recent success of the Mavericks and the Rangers hasn't helped either.

Dallas fans like a winner and that showed near the end of the season last year, when the AAC actually had some filled seats while the Stars played some of their best hockey. The diehard fans will always be there, but no sports franchise can survive without the support of the casual fan.

The addition of a guy like Jagr added more ticket sales and there was actually a nice buzz about the team. This actually looked like a team that could sneak into the playoffs and put themselves back on the map in the Metroplex.

Now what? Take away this team for an entire year and how does it change the sales landscape? The NHL as a whole has struggled with attendance and viewing numbers and a lockout will do that absolutely no favors. The excitement of last year's playoffs dissipated quickly, especially in a year with the European Championship and Olympics.

For a non-playoff team like Dallas, that could be devastating. The team traded away one of their most popular players this offseason in Steve Ott. Longtime franchise players in Brenden Morrow and Stephane Robidas can't be far behind.

Jamie Benn should be the face of the franchise, but he hasn't quite reached that level of popularity yet with the casual fan. He and Loui Eriksson are the best players on the team, but neither are the public figures that Ott and Morrow are. Benn always seems uncomfortable with the media and when's the last time anyone heard Loui speak.

This team could conceivably be without that franchise face that's easily named by the casual Dallas fan when the NHL returns. This team needs the upcoming season to continue building back its fan base in North Texas.

For more coverage of the Stars as well as further NHL lockout news and analysis, check out Defending Big D as well as the SB Nation Dallas StoryStream.

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