A relatively new foundation, the Dallas Stars Alumni Association is certainly making ripples in the Dallas community.
It was only two years ago when Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk decided to get a group of former Stars players together with the main goal of giving back to the community that had given so much to them.
|Jere Lehtinen after winning the Stanley Cup in 1999 |
With the help of former Stars center Bob Bassen, who serves as Director of the Alumni Association, the two have since recruited several former Stars to join them in their efforts. The numbers are certainly on their side, as many former players have decided to call Dallas their home now that their playing days are over.
“There’s something about this city,” says former Stars winger Jere Lehtinen. “Guys who played here stayed here after they were done.”
Bassen says most of the former players have been extremely receptive to participating in the Alumni Association’s appearances, so much so that he’s worried about them saying “yes” too much.
“They’ve all been great,” says Bassen on the players’ involvement. “The biggest challenge is that you don’t want to over-ask.”
According to Bassen, the group’s functions revolve mainly around two objectives. The first is to re-engage the fan base, and in some cases remind them why they love the Dallas Stars. With that in mind, the Alumni Association has been tapped for several fan events around the Metroplex.
In early October, members of the group gathered at Sfuzzi with Stars fans for the unveiling of the new Dallas Stars pizza that the restaurant is featuring on their menu. In early December, former players were on hand at the Hard Rock Café time for the Dallas Stars Ice Girls’ calendar release party.
The second aspect of the Alumni Association that Bassen discussed was their charitable work.
“We bring public awareness to different charities through our appearances. We’re also starting to raise money as an association now to help different charities.”
Just recently, members of the Alumni Association were on hand at the Hope’s Door domestic abuse shelter in Plano to help the Dallas Stars Foundation and the Pro Players Foundation with the donating and building of a playground for the children in the shelter.
|Richard Matvichuk played 14 seasons for Minnesota North Stars/ Dallas Stars |
“We want to continue to help charities in the area,” says Bassen. “We have a unique ability that we can foster corporate sponsorship that is tied into charities. They like having us out there, so I’d like to continue to build on that.”
But what has allowed the Alumni Association to be so successful is the participation they have received from the group of former Stars in the area.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s charity stuff or fan stuff,” says Lehtinen. “Everybody is pretty good about doing that whenever they can. We got a lot from hockey, and we want to give back.”
The same sentiment is echoed by Stu Barnes, a former player and assistant coach for the Stars who now resides in Dallas.
“The chance to be able to do things within the community that supported us over years is a great opportunity.”
The fact that the players all feel the same need to give back to the Dallas community has certainly helped the association, which has often required their services of late. In the past three months alone, alumni have made 22 such appearances at fan and charity events alike.
Some of the players admit they have been a little amazed with the reception they’ve been getting from the throngs of fans who have come out to their events.
“I was a little surprised at first,” says Bassen. “ But I think we have a good base of fans here that come out and support us, and I’m less surprised with every event we do now.”
While the efforts of the Alumni Association have been extremely successful in its first two years, everyone involved feels there is a lot more to be done.
For Barnes, it’s an emphasis on the continued growth of hockey in the area.
“There’s a wealth of knowledge with a lot of ex-hockey players hanging around town that can get involved and be a part of those systems and grow the game in the community.”
For Bassen, it is an increased presence in the community, whether it is at the American Airlines Center during games, or more appearances in the Dallas area.
“I want to support the Stars and get our footprint like it used to be here,” he says. “That’s why we do all these events, we want to fill [the American Airlines Center].”
For more information on, or to get in touch with the Dallas Stars Alumni Association, please visit www.dallasstars.com/alumni.
Current Dallas Stars Alumni Association (years as a Star):
|Stu Barnes (2002-08) |
Stu Barnes (2002-08)
Bob Bassen (1995-98)
Ed Belfour (1997-2002)
Gerald Diduck (2000-01)
Brett Hull (1998-2001)
Jere Lehtinen (1995-2010)
Craig Ludwig (1991-99)
Richard Matvichuk (1992-2004)
Al May (1994-95)
|Craig Ludwig (1991-99) |
Mike Modano (1989-2010)
Andy Moog (1993-97)
Joe Nieuwendyk (1995-2002)
Brent Severyn (1998-99)
Landon Wilson (2008-09)
Marty Turco (2000-10)
*NHL alum living in North Texas