- Mark Stepneski, ESPNDallas.com
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DALLAS -- Vancouver businessman Tom Gaglardi was formally introduced as the new owner of the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center Monday afternoon.
"I want everybody to know that this is truly one of the best days of my life," Gaglardi said.
And he had a message for fans, who have seen the team deal with financial woes the last couple years and miss the playoffs three straight seasons.
"I know that the last couple of years have been especially hard for Stars fans," he said. "To all of you, first let me say thank you for your patience and your support and please know that the uncertainty is now over."
The 43-year-old Gaglardi is president of Northland Properties Corporation, which he and his family run. The company owns and operates hotels and restaurants in Canada and employs more than 10,000 people. He also is part of the ownership group of the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.
He first expressed an interest in buying the Stars in 2009 and spent more than a year going through the process of completing the deal for the team, which went through a bankruptcy proceeding.
"If the level of determination and perseverance that Tom Gaglardi has shown in pursuit of this franchise is any indication of the future, the future is extraordinarily bright and people will once again be celebrating the Stanley Cup here," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was on hand for Monday's press conference. "Watching him over the last year, we have the right owner at the right time for the right market for the right franchise."
And now, Gaglardi said, it is time to move forward. He expressed faith in the job general manager Joe Nieuwendyk has done over the past couple years and joked that he's admired Nieuwendyk for a lot longer than that.
"I loved watching him play, although he never played for a team I was a fan of. But I did admire him," Gaglardi said. "He is certainly fast becoming one of the great general managers of the National Hockey League, and we're fortunate to have him here in Dallas."
Gaglardi, a life-long hockey fan who said he still plays the game a couple times a week, said he is a guy who believes in drafting and developing players. But he added that if the Stars need to spend some money to be competitive, they'll go that route as well.
"We're here to win. This isn't about anything other than becoming a great team and pursuing championships," Gaglardi said. "If Joe and his staff think that is something we can do in terms of stepping up and doing more in that regard, then we're going to do it."
Gaglardi said he believes in hiring quality people and empowering them to do their jobs. On the business side, he has hired Jim Lites to be president and CEO. Lites was president of the Stars when they first moved to Dallas in 1993 and held the post until 2007, except for a brief time in 2002 when he worked for the Phoenix Coyotes.
"Having Jim Lites at the helm of the Stars is really an owner's dream," Gaglardi said. "He knows the market, he loves the game and he is totally committed to putting the Stars back in the rightful position as one of the elite franchises in the National Hockey League. Jim knows what to do. It will take time, but it will get done."
And Gaglardi said he will bring a philosophy to the Stars that he picked up from a plaque on the wall of his father's office. It's helped make him what he is, and it will now help guide the Stars.
"It says 'Excuses are only for people who make them,' " Gaglardi said. "He taught me that philosophy in leadership and I intend on instituting this principle into the Dallas Stars culture both on the ice and off."
Mark Stepneski covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com.