Single-game tickets for the Dallas Stars' 2015-16 season go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. CT today, but the team is already rolling in season-ticket sales. The Stars are 80,000 tickets ahead of last year's pace, according to team president Jim Lites.
Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News talks about what this means at SportsDayDFW:
Spread out over 42 home games, that comes out to 1,904 seats per game.
Now, that doesn't mean the team will see its average attendance soar to 2,000 above the 17,350 it averaged last season – the place only holds 18,532 – or that they will sell out 100 percent this season. But it does mean the demand for tickets is noticeably increased and the popularity of the team could be on the cusp of something fairly big.
"I think star power sells, and we have that," Lites said. "Jamie Benn won the Art Ross, Tyler Seguin was right there. Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp are legitimate stars in this league. All of that helps sell. But I think what people really are excited about is the fact Jim Nill addressed our concerns and he made our team better. That's where the buzz is coming from."
Meanwhile, owner Tom Gaglardi sat down with Mark Stepneski for a candid discussion of why even a disappointing 2014-15 campaign hasn't put a damper on the enthusiasm. Here he talks about the plan in net:
I think it is pretty hard on Kari when we give him a night off, and we never win. We knew we had to get deeper in goal, the 1A/1B thing, and that's why we went after Niemi. He was at the top of our list along with another guy. We got our first choice.
Here he discusses the good signs that came in the second half of last season:
If you look at our team after the middle of December we were one of the better teams in the NHL by several measures - puck possession, scoring differential, scoring chances for versus scoring chances against. I think we had the fourth-best record in the Western Conference after the middle of December. There are lots of positives for sure. We all know that our start did us in and when we have an era of three-point games it is hard to make up ground.
He also shares his opinion on the Stars' young blueline players:
We've got the deepest bench of defense prospects in the league quite honestly. What's changed in a year is that Klingberg has become the player we thought he might be able to become and maybe even better than that. ... He's just such an exceptional person and an exceptional player. I think Nemeth had a setback last year, but in my mind he is a top four defenseman for a long time in the league. That big shutdown guy is something we missed last year. ... A guy like [Jyrki] Jokipakka, a seventh-round draft pick, two years ago he is a guy who has a chance and he comes in and plays, and he's an NHLer.
The list of guys back there - [Esa] Lindell is going to be a player, [Mattias] Backman, [Ludwig] Bystrom. In terms of the roster guys, there's Joki and Jordie Benn is capable to playing great hockey and [Jamie] Oleksiak is a first-rounder who is in that group as well. There's a lot of promise there. A year or two ago there were guys who were concepts and have now proven they can play at the NHL level and give us lots of options. ... And there are some guys coming up that have the capability to knock those guys out in Stephen Johns, Lindell and [Julius] Honka. It's an exciting place for us to be on the backend.
There is much, much more at the Stars website. [Stars Inside Edge]
First of all, go visit WFAA.com and read the latest from DBD's Josh Lile. He delves into the reasons the Stars struggled on defense last year, as well as the ways in which they've addressed the problems with their off-season moves. (Patrick Sharp and Johnny Oduya, we're looking at you.) [WFAA]
Here's how Kari Lehtonen is spending part of his summer: leading a workout and talking about healthy lifestyles with kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas.
Have you met @NHLExplainers? It's a new feed designed to provide "[s]earchable links to NHL #fancystats explainer blogs, papers, and articles." You should go.
My hope is to start gathering links to articles, blog posts, and papers which explain some of the underlying principles of NHL #fancystats.— NHL Explainers (@NHLExplainers) August 9, 2015
My DMs are open so if there's an article you think should be included please feel free to send it along.— NHL Explainers (@NHLExplainers) August 9, 2015
Tyler Seguin is back at BioSteel Camp, which every August brings in several of the NHL's best and physically prepares them for the organized beatdown that awaits in training camp. Seguin, as captain of the defending BioSteel champs, figured prominently in this year's camp player draft. See who Tyler chose! [BarDown]
And speaking of elite hockey talents who were left off their home nation's 2014 Olympic team and went on to have blockbuster 2014-15 NHL seasons, 24-year-old defenseman Victor Hedman has become exactly the player the Tampa Bay Lightning were hoping for. [The Hockey News]
"First of all, he's one of the best skaters I've ever seen in my 40 years around the league," [Lightning assistant coach Rick] Bowness said. "He's 6-foot-6 and he skates like he's 6-foot-1 and 190. North to south, east to west, he's a phenomenal skater. I love watching him skate. I used to love watching Paul Coffey and Mike Modano skate and I'm telling you, he can skate with those guys."
Also in The Hockey News: Goalie Dylan St-Cyr, the son of Manon Rhéaume, has committed to the University of Michigan and will begin playing for the Wolverines in 2018-19. Dylan, who was born in Las Vegas, is also expected to join the U.S. National Team Program. [The Hockey News]
Seguin isn't the only NHL player who has a pet (or pets) as a Twitter co-star: Fellow center Nick Bonino showed off his new Pittsburgh Penguins gear by getting his dog to model it. [Sports Illustrated]
SI.com is also counting down "the worst gut-punch losses" for each NHL team, and it's Dallas' turn. Two words: Game 6. Yeah, you know the one. Thanks for nothing, SI. [Sports Illustrated]
And they follow up with a sobering gallery on NHL players and their various encounters with the law. You already know the story of Eddie Belfour and a billion dollars, but see if you can guess what's on Dino Ciccarelli's rap sheet. [Sports Illustrated]
Meanwhile, another Swedish RFA who had a breakout 2014-15 season has gotten paid. The Anaheim Ducks have signed right wing Jakob Silfverberg to a four-year, $15 million extension. [Orange County Register]
The next ultra-prospect, 17-year-old American center Auston Matthews, will play professionally for the ZSC Lions in the Swiss National League A this season. Matthews is draft-eligible in 2016, and it's "unprecedented" for a projected No. 1 to spend his draft year playing professionally in a men's league. What will this mean for top picks to come? [SportsNet]
In sadder news, Pro Football Hall of Famer and veteran sports journalist Frank Gifford passed away yesterday at the age of 84. [NBC News]
Finally: Dallas photographer Dylan Nadwodny owned the #StraightOutta meme this weekend. Try making your own at straightouttasomewhere.com. Enjoy your week!