Fans of the Dallas Stars have been anxious for years to see their new owner, watch him speak, and hear what his vision for the future of this franchise. Today, in front of his family, friends, the media, and what looked like nearly the entire Stars organization, along side Jim Lites, Gary Bettman, and Joe Nieuwendyk, he finally stepped into the spot light and addressed the fans directly.
"Most importantly, I know the last couple of years have been especially hard for Stars fans," said Gaglardi. "To all of you: First let me say thank you for your patience and support, and please know that the uncertainty is now over."
"The journey to this moment took a little longer than I might have thought. I'm grateful to Gary for his assistance and his support throughout the process. I'm very grateful to the board of governors for inviting me to the league and welcoming me so warmly."
Once the session was opened to questions the conversation quickly turned, as you might expect, to financial matters and how the team will be run, specifically on the payroll front. Mike Heika used Pegula in Buffalo and their huge increase in spending as an example of one way to go. Gaglardi offered his thoughts, and they're in line with what Joe Nieuwendyk has preached in recent seasons.
"I learned in the Western Hockey League that the only way to win is that you build from within," said Gaglardi of his only ownership experience thus far in the Canadian Major Juniors. "You build through the draft. You develop. You coach. That's the philosophy I come with. I think there's been enough cases around the NHL to show that you cannot buy a winner. I believe in the old fashioned way of building from within."
To some that may sound like no-we're-not-going-to-add-a-bunch-of-payroll but it makes sense in today's NHL when you consider the market, the players available next summer, the upcoming CBA, and the number of teams that spend like crazy and get no results. (Hi, Toronto).
Still, Gaglardi says that if the right move is there, they can and will do it. "Having said that, we're here to win. This isn't about anything other than becoming a great team and pursuing championships. If Joe and his staff think that's something that we can do in that regard [spending] then we're going to do it."
Many more good quotes from Mr. Gaglardi after the jump...
As my bad lucky would have it, one of the more interesting things I heard Gaglardi say today happened after the press conference and while my phone was no longer recording. There were several others there, so you'll see these thoughts somewhere eventually, but take my word for it in the mean time.
He was being asked about how involved he might be in the day to day operations of the Stars, including how involved he might be in personnel decisions. In a market containing Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban and Nolan Ryan, it would seem a natural question to ask. Gaglardi said he'd like to be involved in the conversations. He said he'd like "to have a seat at the table" to talk about those kinds of decisions and said any owner who says otherwise might not be very truthful.
Having said that he wants to be involved, he reiterated firmly that any and all personnel decisions will ultimately belong to Joe Nieuwendyk and his staff.
How involved he might be has been the topic of many fan's conversations. Some asked "How can you run a team from Canada?", guessing that he would be a distant owner, and some had guessed he might be "Jerry Jones involved." The truth, as it so often does, lies somewhere between, I think.
"People keep asking, "Will I be moving to Dallas?" Not yet, but you'll probably think I have because of all the games I intend to see here at American Airlines Center."
He iterated several times that his philosophy is to hire good people, and to let them do their jobs.
After the press conference, Gaglardi went on with Bob and Dan (Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket) and offered more (and I think even better) insight into his philosophies and beliefs when it comes to the Dallas Stars and how he'll conduct his business.
"You look back at this franchise...it wasn't that long ago that it was the number one revenue franchise in the National Hockey League. We can get there again and I think we're going to get there pretty quickly."
Gaglardi mentioned the Dallas market many times, in reference to it's size and potential resources. Bob Sturm asked him how the 4th largest market in America relates to the lowest (or near) in the league...
"I think that there's no way over the long haul that Dallas is going to be the 30th payroll in the NHL," said Gaglardi. "We want to win, I am here to win, and we've got the flexibility and capacity to do what we we need to do to win. That's what I bring to the table.
The flexibility and the capacity...we like to think that means "the money."
"We're going to have to do it smartly, because I don't think going out and buying players necessarily means you win. It's got to be the right type of people. It's got to be something that's a fit with the team and the room and the culture. Those are tough guys to find."
"The good news is that there's no more "belts on the purse", I guess. We're going to do whatever we need to do to win. I understand the seriousness of what I've taken on here and that Texans in a market of this size expect us to be competetive and expect us to win. I go into this challenge with my eyes wide open."
When asked what his first priority is, Gaglardi was quick to acknowledge that there are many, many fences that need to be mended after the last three years.
"We've got to go back now and re-forge the bonds that have been broken between the team and the community here and the fans. We have fewer season ticket holders than we have in quite some time and we've got to go back and capture their imagination and build those emotional bonds that are required for a fan to buy a season ticket."
Gaglardi met with the players this morning before they took morning skate and told them all of this first. He believes they must be successful on the ice, as well as productive away from it, reaching out to the community harder than ever before to repair the relationship with the fans.
"I met with the players this morning and I told them all the things that we're going to do and how commited we are to fixing this, but I also reminded them that they're a big part of the solution as well."
It should be a fun time at the AAC tonight with Gaglardi front and center, the building full-ish (we're hearing good things), and hopefully the Stars back on the winning track both on and off the ice.
And for those still blindly, dumbly saying "I bet he'll move the Stars," he added this:
"The team's not moving. It will never move. Dallas is one the best markets in America."