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Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Tom Gaglardi: Stars a big winner in realignment

By Mark Stepneski

Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi said the NHL's new four conference realignment is a big victory for his club.

"I'm not sure we're not the biggest winner in the whole league," Gaglardi said in a phone interview. "I feel pretty wonderful. It's something I've chased ever since I started to chase ownership of the Stars. It's a great day for Dallas."

The Stars, who have played in the Pacific Division with Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Phoenix since 1998, will now play in a more time zone friendly conference with Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Minnesota, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg.

"For our players it's going to be less travel. We're not going to get stuck on the West Coast where we can't get home from games as often," Gaglardi said. "We're going to play in a conference where everyone is in our own time zone, except for Detroit and Columbus which are an hour ahead of us. That's much more palatable than the alternative. We'd rather play an hour early than two hours late."

The Stars will benefit from having road games start and end at a more reasonable time as far as television, an important part of selling the team to fans.

"If you want to watch us on the road, with three of the four divisional teams those games don't end until midnight," said Gaglardi. "We are going to minimize that number now."

The new format also calls for a more balanced schedule. The Stars will play 38 games within their conference and a home-and-home series against the other 22 teams in the league.

"I think the fans win because you are going to have every team in every building every year," Gaglardi said. "I think that is worth a lot."

That means Original Six teams from the East like Boston, Toronto, Montreal and the New York Rangers will visit Dallas every year. The Stars also have two Original Six teams - Detroit and Chicago - in their conference, which is a big boost as well. The league's big name players will be in the building every year, so next season players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin will be scheduled to play at the AAC. All of that selling points to get people buying tickets.

"I talked to other owners that are here and they feel the same way, every team in their building is great for the league," Gaglardi said. "It will mean a little more travel for a lot of teams. That was the negative with what happened today. But I think it is the right thing to do."

And Gaglardi said the realignment plan that shifts the Stars to a more time zone friendly setting was the right thing to do as well.

“It’s the right decision for the league, in my opinion. I’m happy were a team that benefits as much as anyone,” he said. “It’s a great day for the Dallas Stars, and it rights an inequity that’s existed for far too long. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am.”