The Stars moved to Dallas in 1993 and became the first Sun Belt team to win a Stanley Cup in 1999. The Tampa Bay Lightning became the second in 2004. The Allen Americans have won four consecutive minor league championships, two in the Central Hockey League and two in the ECHL.
There are 7,300 kids playing hockey in Dallas this winter, either house or travel. In 2013, a Dallas kid, Seth Jones, became the fourth overall selection of the NHL draft. Two other Dallas products, Chris Brown and Stefan Noesen, have skated in the NHL since then.
Alabama-Huntsville became a member of an NCAA Division I hockey conference in 1998 and Arizona State is in its inaugural season of NCAA hockey this winter. There isn't a college hockey team in Florida, but Tampa has hosted the NCAA Frozen Four twice in the last five years.
So I asked Stars president Jim Lites the other day if there was any chance our city would put in a bid for a future Frozen Four at American Airlines Center. I've been to several of them. It's a great event. It's what the Final Four was before its discovery by corporate America in the 1980s. But Lites was ice cold to the suggestion.
"It's a prestige event," Lites said, "but it's a calendar issue for us. We have two professional teams [Mavericks and Stars] here. This building in jammed in March."
Then I called Sean Boyle, who coaches the club hockey team at Texas A&M, and asked him if he could envision a school in this state competing at the NCAA Division I level in hockey in the next five to 10 years.
"Yes, I could," Boyle said, "but there would have to be someone like Terry Pegula up at Penn State drop a ton of money on a new arena."