The owner was in the house Saturday night.
Bringing his family in for a weekend game, Tom Gaglardi was inside American Airlines Center for the ugliness that was the Chicago Blackhawks' 8-1 rout of the Dallas Stars.
Making matters worse was the large number of Blackhawks fans in attendance. What kind of owner wants to see that scene in his own building?
The Stars organization is currently at a crossroads. Saturday night's humbling defeat leaves them 12th in the Western Conference and last in the Pacific Division. Is a wakeup call or a shakeup needed?
These days you may not have figured for a Stars win over the Blackhawks, but you'd at least expect an effort. When you lose 8-1 there are no silver linings. Jamie Benn put it right afterward, saying, "We need to do something within this room to change that. It's an unacceptable effort tonight."
But does it go beyond the Stars' dressing room?
GM Joe Nieuwendyk was hired in 2009 by former owner Tom Hicks. Nieuwendyk then hired head coach Glen Gulutzan in June 2011. Gulutzan was young and unheard of when he entered the NHL's coaching ranks and in his first season behind the bench, the Stars finished six points from the playoffs.
Over the summer, Nieuwendyk invested in wisdom, bringing in Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, two players whose ages both begin with the number "4". The dinosaur experiment hasn't completely failed. Jagr leads the team in scoring with 18 points, and while Whitney has only played 11 games, he does have 8 points, leaving room for promise if he can finish the final 21 games healthy.
But overall, the Stars have be unable to find the "big goal when needed" this season. Dallas is 1-7-1 when trailing after the first period and 1-9-0 when falling behind after the second. Opposing coaches just need to ensure their charges get a lead at any moment against Dallas, because odds are the two points will be wrapped up already.
So is it time for Gaglardi to clean house and install new people -- his own people, alongside team president Jim Lites?
As Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News points out, the Stars have the hockey minds in the organization to make the transition: Bob Gainey, currently a consultant, was GM of the Stars from 1993 until 2002. Curt Fraser, who spent three and a half years behind the bench in Atlanta, serves as one of Gulutzan's assistants.
But would it work? In 2001-02, assistant coach Rick Wilson finished out the season as head coach and the team finished 10th and missed the playoffs. In 2007-08, Les Jackson and Brett Hull came in as co-GMs and pushed the right buttons, taking Dallas all the way to the Western Conference finals.Would that sort of wakeup call prompt a Cup run for the Stars? No, but something needs to happen. The trade deadline is a little over two weeks away and with the likes of Jagr, team captain Brenden Morrow and Derek Roy UFAs this summer, Nieuwendyk has decisions to make. What are the chances Jagr, Morrow and Roy will be wearing a Stars uniform next season? Are the Stars' kids ready to take on big roles if those three are moved going forward?
That was early in the season, but anything can happen when you change.
The Kings changed their coach last season and won the Stanley Cup.
There are bright spots. Defenseman Brenden Dillon has had an impressive rookie season. Same for Antoine Roussel. It's really just a matter of patience vs. playoffs.
Brandon Worley of Defending Big D says patience should reign:
The bigger picture, however, certainly shows that direction of the Dallas Stars is incredibly unknown -- especially in the short term."These guys gave us a wakeup call tonight," said Benn.
A "blow it all up" approach is not going to happen and nor should it. The Stars are in the midst of sweeping changes that is meant to change the bad fortunes of the past four seasons. Bumps along the way are to be expected, especially against a team like Chicago. We're just going to have to wait it out, know that more changes are coming, and hold on to the faith that coming seasons will be brighter.
When the season ends on April 27, the Stars will look back on the drubbing by the Blackhawks and see that it was the catalyst for change, one way or the other.