USA Hockey Magazine

August 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 28 of 43

A fter Tom Gaglardi bought the Dallas S t a r s i n 2 0 1 1 , h e a n d h i s i n c o m i n g management team began a thorough review of all aspects of the organization. While there were changes made to the hockey operations side of the house, including the hiring of general manager Jim Nill in 2013, less obvious adjustments took place behind the scenes. One of those concerned the team's involvement in the local youth hockey scene, which underwent a dramatic shift starting in 2014 with a new philosophy and the creation of an "Xtreme Team" of coaching and development experts that implemented a new vision for all of their youth programs. "Basically, the Dallas Stars made a decision to actively remove themselves from high-performance hockey, travel hockey, and focus all their energies on grassroots hockey, recreational hockey, and trying to grow long-term hockey players," said Dwight Mullins, the Stars' director of Hockey Development and a key member of the Xtreme Team. In addition to Mullins, the Xtreme Team consists of longtime local youth hockey pioneer Jouni Lehtola, and three former NHL players—former Star (and two-time Stanley Cup champion) Brad Lukowich, Andy Wozniewski, and Bob Bassen, who also is the president of the Stars' Alumni Association. Their mission is to travel around the Dallas Metroplex and other cities of the Southwest to help their associa- tions grow. Another key piece of the program was the creation of the Dallas Stars Metro Hockey League, a rec league that provides a fun environment for kids to develop their skills and passion for the game at one of the seven Dr Pepper StarCenter facilities in the area (including a new one in the Fort Worth suburb of Mansfield). The idea was initiated by Damon Boettcher, the Stars' vice presi- dent in charge of the StarCenter ice rinks, who believed that by allowing the elite-level travel organizations to become independent entities, the Stars' grassroots programs could become a feeder program, which would benefit both sides of the equation. " We looked at it and stepped back from the rat race of every- body trying to win banners and stuff for their rinks, and said, 'It should be our duty to not worry about the kids winning trophies but helping to find more kids to play and helping to build the base of hockey fans,'" Boettcher said. "We said, 'We don't need to compete, we need to help.' So, we pulled out of the whole travel industry. 'We'll help all you guys by building a house program and getting grassroots built from the bottom to keep filling the funnel to make every other travel program healthy.'" The new setup has exceeded all expectations, already surpassing their five-year target for participa- tion numbers, heading into year 4. " We're seeing large growth in our grassroots, in our Mites, in our Squirts," Boettcher said. "And we didn't limit it to certain age groups, we'll take everybody." I n a d d i t i o n t o f o c u s i n g o n s k i l l d e ve l o p m e n t , by u t i l i z i n g the principles of the American D e v e l o p m e n t M o d e l a t a l l a g e AUGUST 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 27 The Dallas Stars new approach to de- velopment is to provide every kid with an opportunity to find their own path forward in the game, whether it's as a recreational player or with a travel team. " We sa i d, ' We d o n ' t n e e d to co m p ete, w e n e e d to h e l p.' S o, w e p u l le d o u t o f t h e w h o le t rav e l i n d u st r y."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of USA Hockey Magazine - August 2018