From bankruptcy to playoff prominence: How the Dallas Stars rebuilt a winning team

By Catie George, Manager, Communications & Storytelling

President and CEO of the Dallas Stars Brad Alberts spoke to a collection of Dallas-Fort Worth professionals at the Dallas Regional Chamber’s (DRC) Executive Circle event on Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Dallas Stars practice facility at Comerica Center in Frisco.

Dallas Stars President and CEO Brad Alberts in conversation with Sports Anchor for CBS News Texas Andy Adler.

In a conversation with Andy Adler, Sports Anchor for CBS News Texas, Alberts detailed his career journey with the Stars, beginning in the ticketing office during the team’s glory days in the late 1990s and 2000 to being presented the opportunity to return to the franchise at its lowest point in 2011, fresh on the heels of bankruptcy.

“I knew we needed to reestablish this franchise. I love this city; I love this market. And I knew the Stars needed to be run right,” said Alberts. “When this opportunity then presented itself, I knew it was going to be difficult, and it has been. It’s been the hardest professional challenge I’ve ever had… looking back, I’m incredibly proud of what this entire organization has been able to do in getting this franchise reestablished to where it should be, which is one of the elite NHL franchises in the country.”

While Alberts was excited to jump back into the team he loved despite all its challenges, he knew rebuilding the team to playoff prominence would not happen all at once.

“You can’t take on too much. I went and started my to-do list and just started to check off boxes, and I knew that I couldn’t jump 30 boxes down without checking the first box. And I think not getting overwhelmed by the challenge is really, really important,” said Alberts. “Not letting the enormity of the challenge overwhelm you is also something important to think about as you’ve got to rebuild the business.”

An essential part of rebuilding for Alberts was establishing a teamwork-oriented, respectful, and challenging culture.

Attendees listen to the fireside chat at the Dallas Stars practice facility at Comerica Center in Frisco.

“My executive team knows I challenge them. They challenge their [vice presidents] because it’s an execution business. It’s a closer business. We’ve got to have results,” he said. “It can’t just be rhetoric; it can’t just be talk. We have to generate revenue. We need everyone to buy tickets, watch us, watch our games, buy merchandise, and that kind of thing to have our business flourish.”

Another key to the Stars’ comeback was building a sales team made up of dedicated believers.

“You’ve got to have an incredible sales culture, and we do that. All our leadership and all our employees really embrace selling, customer service, and the experience of the fans, not only at our rinks but also at the American Airlines Center,” said Alberts. “I love our group. We’ve got a lot of great people who love our hockey team, who love our business, and who have dedicated their lives to this job. And I appreciate that every day.”

Alberts was ultimately named President in 2018, then added the CEO title in 2020. Under his leadership and direction, the organization hosted the 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. The event sold out within hours of tickets going on sale and was hailed as one of the most successful NHL events of all time, becoming the second-highest-attended game in league history.

Alberts knew the team was “back.”

“The Winter Classic was one of those mic-drop moments for us as a franchise… That was really the day that I thought we were back,” said Alberts. “It was incredible, and it became one of our greatest days.”

DRC COO & CFO Angela Farley, DRC President & CEO Dale Petroskey, Sports Anchor for CBS News Texas Andy Adler, Dallas Stars President & CEO Brad Alberts, and Texas Mutual Insurance Company Vice President of Dallas Regional Operations Bill Jackson.

The team reached new heights under Alberts in the 2022-2023 season and run to the Western Conference Finals, which helped the organization sell out all season tickets in the lower bowl and platinum level for the 2023-2024 season for the first time since 2002-2003.

Today, the Stars are firmly seated at the top of the NHL standings.

“This franchise is back, with one exception: We need to win a championship again,” Alberts said. “We know we’re in a window where we can win a championship. We’re committed to that, and we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. I can guarantee it.”

Alberts is confident that this is the year the Stars become a championship team.

“This team has an x-factor to it, similar to the Texas Rangers. There’s humility, but that’s also matched with talent and drive,” he said. “I think our mic drop moment is about to happen, and it’s when we win the Stanley Cup.”

Texas Mutual Insurance Company was the event sponsor for the first Executive Circle event of the year, joined by NewsRadio 1080 KRLD as the official media partner.

The DRC’s Executive Circle event series brings key decision-makers together with interesting subject-matter experts like Brad Alberts once a quarter. To attend a future Executive Circle event, connect with our membership team.