Nick Moroch may not be a name you know, but every Stars fan is likely very familiar with this controversial resident of the AAC.
If you have watched a Dallas Stars home game on television at any time in the past six or seven years, then chances are you know exactly who Nick Moroch is. You might have even formed a very detailed opinion about him.
Every season since 1994 Nick and his family have had the exact same seats for Stars home games, directly behind the visitor's goal at both Reunion Arena and now at American Airlines Center. For the past few years that seat has become fairly infamous in Stars lore, as Nick has made a name for himself as "that guy who bangs on the glass."
For nearly every single home game over the past decade Nick has become a staple of the American Airlines Center experience, standing in his front row seat behind the visiting team's goal. Nearly every single home game, you can see and hear Nick banging his heart out on the boards whenever the puck comes near or a big play occurs - or merely to do his best to distract and annoy the opposing goaltender.
It's interesting to think that just one fan can be so polarizing, yet Nick has become the object of such derision and praise it was impossible to go much longer without digging into just who he is and why he does what he does - what Nick considers to be his "job" as a fan.
"I was born and raised in Dallas, and grew up playing hockey," says Nick, who at 28 years old was one of many who benefitted from the arrival of the Stars in Dallas in 1993. "I started getting into hockey after playing indoor soccer, because of the checking, really. It was a lot of fun. The Stars kind of immediately grew on us and I ended up playing travel hockey, and then college hockey for Dallas Baptist University. Since the start we've been going to every single Stars game."
Nick is easy to spot along the boards with his white velvet jacket, green sleeved shirt, dress pants and sandals. Stating that his father, who owns the Moroch Advertising, is known for the white suits outside of the AAC Nick has made the white jacket his trademark inside the AAC since he took up permanent residence in his seats.
It's the banging on the glass that has made him so noticeable, however, and it is that banging that has made him such an object of scorn and celebration. The banging is exceptionally noticeable on the Stars broadcast, where the parabolic microphones amplify the sound to a degree that sometimes overrides the play by play by Stars announcer Ralph Strangis. This constant banging, and the way the sound comes across on the broadcast, has led to many fans at home to constantly curse his name - adding to the growing infamy in which Nick finds himself embroiled in.
What is most interesting is just how differently he is viewed by fans watching the games on television versus the fans in attendance at the games, which seem to universally feel that Nick's show of passion is not only accepted but needed.
"I think he's great. He's awesome," says Sandy, 33, of Dallas and a five-year season ticket holder in section 113. "He's passionate, and when the rest of the AAC is dead you can count on him to be there every game, doing his best to stir things up and get the fans around him into the game."
Talking to fans in and round Nick's section the responses were all universally the same; for those that attend the games, his banging on the glass is not seen as a distraction or a deterrence from enjoying the game, it's seen as a part of the game itself and something they don't want him to stop doing any time soon.
"I think he's learned to tone it down a bit the past few years," says Amy, of North Richland Hills. "A few years ago it was non-stop and I think it was annoying to some degree, but he's become much better at picking his spots, I think. I certainly don't think much of it these days and it's certainly noticeable when he's not there. Like there's something missing."
Talking to Nick, it's hard not to instantly like the long-time Stars fan. He's engaging and enthusiastic and it's clear he takes being a Dallas Stars fan very seriously; he says he's only missed a handful of games the past five years or so and does his best to get to road games whenever possible. Most of all he is passionate - a word he uses often - and doesn't shy away from the fact that he enjoys the attention, whether that's at the AAC or away from the rink.
"I'm such a passionate fan, when I got into adult rec league people started to notice me," said Nick. "I was a very passionate, drunk individual five or so years ago - people would scream at me, whether they liked me or hated me, because of the banging on the glass. It just spread like wildfire, really. Sooner or later, people are high fiving me or asking to take pictures with me. Just because I like to bang on the glass."
Nick, who is now sober and is no longer the "drunk individual" who perhaps took things a bit too far in the past, certainly acknowledges that there is a balance to be found with what he does. He also seems concerned with being viewed as a nuisance or an annoyance by Stars fans, although he did state he finds a certain thrill to hear people talk about him when they don't realize it's him they are talking about.
"I'm the nicest guy in the world, really," says Nick, with a sly grin. "When I meet people outside of the rink, people would either talk for me or against me and I'd just smile since they wouldn't know who I am."
The "guy who bangs on the glass" has been the target of many game thread frustrations here on Defending Big D over the years, as well as gaining some notoriety among fans of visiting teams. The criticisms about what he does come from far and wide, yet it's tough to find a more dedicated Dallas Stars fan than Nick Moroch.
While the season ticket holder base dwindled and attendance at the AAC flatlined last season, Nick was there through it all. He was there at almost every game, in the same seat and showing the same passion, through the frustrating seasons of the past few years and all of the ownership drama that embroiled the franchise. Some fans collect jerseys or autographs, some spend their days endlessly debating on fan blogs or forums; Nick shows his passion as a fan by being there through every up and down, banging as hard as he can on the glass whenever the moment feels right.
"They haven't met me," says Nick, when asked about how he feels about fans that talk badly about him. "I've changed a lot of people's minds about who I am and what I do. It's more about being annoyed and most Stars fans at the games know that it's just a part of the game. I'm just happy I get the chance to do what I do, which is bang on the glass very passionately."
It's a job he takes seriously, and one he doesn't seem inclined to give up any time soon.