Bob Bassen understands life as a National Hockey League alum. After 15 seasons on the ice as a professional hockey player, including three seasons with the Dallas Stars, Bassen had to figure out what his passion was after hockey. What he found was that the zeal remained in the sport he had already dedicated his life to. Bassen was recently named the Dallas Stars Director of Alumni Association/Business Development, a group which he has been an integral part in forming and developing the past two years.
“As former players, I think hockey is in your veins; it’s part of your makeup,” Bassen said. “When you start young, it’s part of your DNA. When you’re done playing after a career of hockey, you certainly miss it, but being a part of something like this helps. Being a part of a group like this inspires these guys to give back more, because I think they see what’s going on.”
From the beginning, the Stars Alumni Association’s goals were to immediately get involved with the community by garnering support from Stars alumni. Bassen said he was approached by Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk, as well as Director of Hockey Analytics & Administration Mark Janko about leading the formation and direction of the alumni association.
“Joe Nieuwendyk and Mark Janko originally came to me about the association,” Bassen said. “Joe played in Calgary for a number of years and saw the benefits of their strong alumni association. I think it’s a great thing, and it also ties the guys in the area back to the Stars. It brings them back and makes them feel like they’re part of the organization again. I know I felt like that.”
The alumni association’s mission includes supporting the Dallas Stars, supporting former players and their families, as well as utilizing former players to support other charitable organizations. The alumni association provides help to local charities by participating in numerous events, providing financial support and remaining visible in north Texas.
One of the most recent functions the alumni association participated in was the Coppell 5K Special Olympics Run, which raised over $7,500. Dallas Stars alumni Bob Bassen, Jere Lehtinen and Landon Wilson signed autographs at the event, and the alumni worked with the Dallas Stars Foundation to help donate Stars memorabilia for the kids. Over the past year, the alumni association has participated in over two dozen events, all with the purpose of fostering support for charities and developing role models in the community.
The recruitment of alumni in the area and their desire to become active in the community is something Stars President and CEO Jim Lites said they dreamed about when the franchise was first moved from Minneapolis to Dallas. Lites said one of the many things he wanted to do when he came back to the organization in November was to speak with Bassen about the development of the alumni association and the involvement of past players.
“What I found when I sat down with Bob was that there was a very active connection with guys that had a significant amount of history with the franchise,” Lites said. “These guys wanted to be able to touch the team and be a part of it, even though they weren’t playing anymore. They have an affinity to the Stars and what we’re doing.”
Lites said as he continued to discuss with Bassen about the growth of the alumni association, he realized that Bassen’s role could be increased by adding him to the Stars front office staff. Bassen now has the ability to be more involved with nurturing relationships with alumni as well as building strong business contacts to benefit the association and the Dallas Stars organization.
“Bob seems to be the perfect person to consider taking on these roles and growing the business,” Lites said. “He’s a terrific guy and I am happy to have him. All you want to be able to do is surround this organization with people with Bob Bassen’s work ethic, attitude and his approach to life. He’s a great addition for us.”
Bassen and Lites also mentioned the association’s growing ties with youth hockey throughout the area. Bassen said he, as well as many other former players, are actively involved in the youth hockey environment as coaches, mentors and instructors. He said he plans on expanding the interaction with youth hockey in the future.
“I think the more we can get alumni involved with the youth, the better,” Bassen said. “It’s starting to happen now, and we currently have several former players who have been very active with our alumni who are also coaching and mentoring kids involved in youth hockey. Our tag for the alumni association is ‘giving back’. That’s really what we’ve been able to do the last couple of years, and the more we can do that, whether it’s with charities, youth hockey or anything else, the stronger we can grow.”
Bassen said one of his main goals is to increase the prominence of the Stars organization through his efforts with the alumni association. During his three seasons with Dallas, Bassen was able to experience the rise of the organization towards a Stanley Cup. He said he wants nothing more than to be a part of another rise to the top.
“There are a lot of things we do that allow Stars alumni to stay involved with the organization and the community, and the alumni association role is to facilitate that as much as we can,” Bassen said. “Our goal is to support anything that can help the Stars get their footprint back in the market and win a Stanley Cup again.”