For Gaglardi, whose family has been in the hospitality business in Canada for many years, owning restaurants and hotels, his approach is to let the guys he hires to run the business to do what they do best.
“It’s important to note,” said Gaglardi, who also owns the junior hockey Kamloops Blazers, “that in all our businesses that we’re involved with, that I employ a certain philosophy and that is, to hire the very best people I can, to support them and empower them to succeed.”
Gaglardi elaborated a bit on that model and how it developed.
“I think it’s come a little bit out of necessity,” said Gaglardi, who lives in Vancouver and pointed out that he still plays hockey himself twice a week. “We have a family business in Canada that’s gotten to be quite large, so nothing that we do is a one-man show, or even a small-bunch-of-people show. We’ve been successful by hiring the right people and giving them all the support that we can.
“We rely on these people to make great decisions and run the business on a day-to-day basis, so that will be the philosophy here in Dallas with me not being here all the time. I have other responsibilities, but I’m going to have more than enough time to be dedicated to loving this franchise, nurturing it, and doing everything I can to help us succeed here. I’m totally committed to winning here and being successful, and there’s no question that if we do the right things on and off the ice, that we’ll be successful in what is a fabulous market here in the DFW area.”
Also as part of the deal, Gaglardi hired former Stars president Jim Lites, who left the organization in 2007, to return to his former role, and believes he is the right man to help them regain their footing on the DFW sports scene.
“On the business side, having Jim Lites at the helm of the Stars is really an owner’s dream,” said Gaglardi of Lites, who spent the previous four years managing the personal seat license program for the New York Giants football club in their new MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. “He knows the market, he loves the game and he is totally committed to putting the Stars back in their rightful positions as one of the premiere franchises in the National Hockey League. Jim knows what to do. It’ll take some time, but it’s going to get done.”
In addition, both men praised the performance of General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk, expressing confidence that he will return the club to its past glory days that he contributed to as a player.
“I’ve always been a huge Joe Nieuwendyk fan,” said Gaglardi. “He never played for any team I was a fan of, but I did enjoy him. But he’s certainly fast becoming one of the great General Managers in the National Hockey League, and I certainly believe we’re fortunate to have him here in Dallas. I want to also congratulate Joe again for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame last week in Toronto, which I was fortunate enough to attend.”
“I’m like Tom, I’m a great admirer of Joe Nieuwendyk and have been since I first met him, when he first came here from the Calgary Flames in ’96,” added Lites who originally came aboard as club president when the franchise first relocated from Minnesota back in 1993. “He’s the right guy to lead this franchise and we’re lucky to have him. We’re in a really good situation, I think.”
Nieuwendyk himself gave a ringing endorsement of the new owner and was excited about the unfettered enthusiasm he is already injecting into the all facets of the organization.
“From my standpoint, it’s really exciting,” said Nieuwendyk of the beginning of the Gaglardi era, which kicked off Monday night with a 4-1 win over Edmonton. “I’ve gotten to know Tom throughout this process and I think it’s terrific to know we have a passionate guy who cares about our team, cares about our franchise and I think there’s a really good story to be told here, and I think we’re going to tell that story. We have lots of people that are going to help move this thing in the right direction and that’s encouraging for me. To know Tom’s philosophy and how he cares is a big step.”
One of the biggest questions on a lot of fans’ minds has been whether or not the club will increase its payroll now that a new owner is in place. After all, this is a team that needed to make a trade back in October, acquiring winger Eric Nystrom
, just to remain in compliance with the NHL’s salary floor.
The short answer is maybe but not right away. Gaglardi noted that he favors a more patient approach to building a winner, but remains open to the possibility of adding a key player if necessary.
“Most of my hockey experience in terms of owning has been at the major junior level in Canada and so we don’t have to deal with things like payroll and things of that nature,” admitted Gaglardi. “I learned in the Western Hockey League that, really, the only way to win is to build from within. You build and draft and develop and coach, so that’s the philosophy I come with. I think there’s been enough cases throughout the NHL to show that you can’t buy a winner, so I believe in the old-fashioned way of building teams. Having said that, we’re here to win and want to become a great team and pursuing championships, so if Joe and his staff think that is something we can do, stepping up and doing something in that regard, then we’re going to do it.”
“I agree with Tom’s philosophy that you build a winner from within and the local media here knows how I feel about our prospect group now getting better,” added Nieuwendyk, whose club started out 11-3-0 and briefly sat first overall in the entire NHL before losing straight games leading into Monday’s win over the Oilers. “We’re going to keep our eyes and ears open for other players that can help us. But you see in the National Hockey League now how quickly teams can turn it around. And even though we’re in a bit of a slump right now, we were the toast of the league just 10 days ago. I’d rather go through this now than later in the season and we’ll build this thing back up.”
As for the notion that he’ll be a ‘hands-off owner,’ Gaglardi wanted to clarify exactly what that means to him.
“I will be extremely involved with the team in terms of what’s happening, but the decisions will be made here, by Jim on the business side and by Joe on the hockey side,” Gaglardi stressed. “That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be incredibly involved and stay connected, because I think that I’ve got a lot to offer in terms of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and certainly on the business side - strategy, what’s working, what’s not working, ‘maybe we need to try this.’ I think businesses are run on ideas and I have ideas and I have things I can do to assist these guys with running the business on a day-to-day basis.
“What I mean to say is, I’m an involved owner, but I’m also someone that really believes in hiring the right people and letting them do the job.”