Jim Nill has helped put the Stars back on the map

Associated Press

This post is part of Stars Day on PHT…

The Dallas Stars will never be the top dog in their market. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys will own that title until the end of time. That doesn’t mean things aren’t going well for the Stars.

The team has become competitive again and it’s clear that the community has embraced the team and the product on the ice.

Things seemed to have changed for the better when the Stars hired Jim Nill as general manager in April 2013. It hasn’t always been perfect for Nill in Dallas, but he’s done a good job of putting that team together and building something special.

In Nill’s first year, the Stars finished with 91 points, which was good enough to earn them the final playoff spot in the conference. Two seasons ago, the Stars finished with 92 points, but missed the playoffs. Last year, they exploded for 109 points and finished at the top of the Western Conference.

The Stars rewarded Nill with a contract extension through 2022-2023.

“In just over two years, Jim has helped instill a culture of excellence within our organization and extending that partnership to 2022-23 is vital for the direction of the hockey club,” owner Tom Gaglardi said after the extension was made official. “From the day he stepped into this role, he has displayed tremendous decision-making in the re-tooling of our group and we’re excited to build upon the foundation that has been laid.”

Nill’s done a lot to make hockey relevant in Dallas again. His most important move was made early in his tenure as GM, when he acquired Tyler Seguin from the Boston Bruins. That move has turned out pretty well. So have his acquisitions of Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp.

The fans certainly seemed to have noticed the team’s improvement. In 2013-14, the Stars ranked 28th in average attendance at 14,658. Just two seasons later, that number is now 18,376, which is good for 15th in the NHL.

Credit must also be given to Tom Gaglardi, who bought (and saved) the team in 2011.

“When you buy a sports team, you buy the market, and I just love the market in Dallas,” Gaglardi told Sportsnet last December. “I got to go to a market that’s bigger than any market in Canada. I mean, the state of Texas economy is almost as big as Canada. That gives us a new base to grow our family business there.”

The Stars owner took a team that was bankrupt and turned them into one of the better teams in the NHL by hiring the right people and letting them do their job.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to attract good people, and keep them. Great people, actually. It’s culture, it’s leadership. I got it from my dad. So that’s one thing I think I’ve done well. I’ve hired well.”

All that’s missing is another Stanley Cup championship.