Gaglardi vows Dallas Stars will return to elite NHL status

11/21/2011 11:03 PM

11/21/2011 11:29 PM

DALLAS -- Tom Gaglardi understands the task at hand as the new owner of the Dallas Stars. The 43-year-old Canadian with deep Texas roots is charged with rebooting a once-proud franchise that has lately teetered on irrelevance.

"The last couple of years have been especially hard for Stars fans," Gaglardi said Monday afternoon during an introductory news conference at American Airlines Center. "To all of you, first let me say thank you for your patience and support. The uncertainty is over."

Gaglardi takes the keys of the club with the NHL's lowest payroll, dwindling attendance and in a three-year playoff drought. His first order of business was to bring back Jim Lites for a third tour of duty as team president.

Lites, 58, also pledged to restore the Stars' bond with hockey fans in North Texas and make good on the Gaglardi promise that the franchise will regain its "elite" status in the NHL.

"We're going to dig into the community as much as we possibly can," Lites said.

Gaglardi doesn't have immediate plans to move to the Dallas area from Vancouver, where he manages the family-owned hospitality company Northland Properties Corporation. He is entrusting the day-to-day operations to Lites and general manager Joe Nieuwendyk.

The Stars have been an early season surprise, racing out to an 11-3 start before snapping a five-game losing streak Monday night against Edmonton.

"You see in the National Hockey League nowadays how quickly you can turn things around," Nieuwendyk said. "Even though we're in a bit of slump right now, we were the toast of the league 10 days ago."

Lites said the transition from former owner Tom Hicks feels like a "fresh start" and is "less daunting" than in 1993 when the franchise relocated from Minnesota.

Building a team with a competitive payroll is a priority for the management team. Gaglardi has already had several conversations with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressing realignment and scheduling issues.

Bettman and Gaglardi first had discussions about Stars ownership in 2009.

Gaglardi, an avid hockey player himself who still competes on a competitive team, is proud of his Texan heritage. His mother is from Longview and he has plenty of relatives in the state, including in Burleson. Gaglardi is also a hard-core Cowboys fan.

He expects to be at American Airlines Center often.

"This is truly one of the best days of my life," Gaglardi said. "I'm so honored and humbled to have a franchise in the National Hockey League, and especially one I spent my whole life growing up in Vancouver admiring. With all the success the Dallas Stars have had, I can't believe that a day has come where I get to be associated with such great tradition in such a great city."

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