I hit the road before Christmas break to go and see my second ever Dallas Stars game in “enemy territory.” But this time, I went up north to see a “traditional” hockey market. The comparisons between the two are rather interesting.
The Dallas Stars are one of the most nontraditional hockey market teams in the NHL. There’s no way around that, but it is perfectly okay.
Since the NHL’s founding over 100 years ago, a multitude of different NHL franchises have been created and established all across North America. But where these franchises land seems to have a significant impact on how they are viewed by the rest of the league.
See, it’s all about whether the franchise is embedded in a “nontraditional” or “traditional” hockey market. How are these markets determined? Well, there are a few different factors.
For one, the date of founding carries a lot of weight. All of the “Original Six” teams are automatically considered “traditional” markets due to their year of origin. Toronto, Montreal, Chicago, Boston, New York Rangers, and Detroit all fall in this category. Their history and popularity make them automatic bids for the “traditional” label.
Another has to do with their marketability and popularity. These are the teams that are considered to be impossible to desert. In other words, even if they went 0-82-0, their fan base would still stick with them. They wouldn’t fall off the hockey map and would remain popular among their city and fans.
Finally, location can play a large role in determining traditional from nontraditional. For instance, a team in a northern market where hockey is more popular would be more “traditional” than a team in a warmer climate where football reigns supreme.
Under these standards, the Dallas Stars are most certainly a nontraditional market. But, as I said earlier, that’s perfectly alright. After all, there is nothing wrong with doing things a little different from the “mainstream” hockey society.
In today’s NHL, there seems to be a decent balance of traditional and nontraditional markets. You have the main players like Boston, New York, and Toronto still chugging along and popular as ever. But you also have new players like Dallas, Nashville, San Jose, and Los Angeles who all have a nifty setup of their own.
This distinction has intrigued me for years now. Growing up, the only hockey I ever knew was Dallas Stars hockey. So while my definition of a nontraditional market was pretty precise, it was a biased one.
Through social media and a variety of other outlets, I was able to get a somewhat clear grasp of what other nontraditional markets as well as traditional ones looked like. But seeing one of each up close and personal in their unbiased glory has been a dream of mine for a while. Plus, I just want to see how things go in other hockey hubs.
That being said, I have spent the past nine months trying out one of each. Last March, a friend and I ventured out to San Jose to take in a Dallas Stars game at the Shark Tank. And just a few weeks back, a group of friends and I went to see the Stars take on the Philadelphia Flyers.
The results that I compiled from both walks of hockey life are interesting to say the least. But maybe this can help paint a clearer picture of what the distinction between the two markets is for all who may be wondering. I’m glad I was able to venture and see both because they provided me with an unbiased look at each hockey atmosphere.
So please, enjoy. Take it all in. Here is what I gained from a visit to San Jose (nontraditional) and Philadelphia (traditional). Read them over and contemplate on your own about how you think they compare to a typical Dallas Stars game. See what you think.