Stars’ jumbotron, social media hijinks a calculated plan for popularity

The Stars' scoreboard is often the center of attention at games.
Jerome Miron/Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Chances are that any sports fan who uses Twitter is familiar with the troll-like hijinks of the Dallas Stars. As one of the teams in a sport which is attempting to gain more popularity, the Stars decided to use both jumbotron jokes and social media strategies to help the team make a statement in the sports culture world. 

The Stars first made a mark back in 2012 when they showed an empty seat on the jumbotron and captioned it “Manti T'eo's girlfriend”. The joke referred to the famous catfishing case involving college football star Manti T'eo and his fictional girlfriend, a story which ruled national headlines at the time. 

Then, the Stars set their sights on a more famous personality: Justin Bieber. During a Jan. 2014 game against the Maple Leafs, the Stars thrilled fans when they ran a Bieber mugshot on the jumbotron and captioned it “Maple Leafs fan”. The image went viral, and the Stars gained the reputation as one of the most entertaining teams in terms of public presence in the sporting world. 

The Stars have no plans of stopping these jumbo jokes, according to a recent profile by Sports Illustrated on the Stars' social media and creative team.

“One of the challenges the NHL has is trying to stand out. We are more apt to trying things that are a little bit more edgy,” Jason Walsh, the Assistant Vice President, Broadcasting and Creative, for the Dallas Stars said to SI. “We need to gather an audience. We need to create a spark.”

That spark extends beyond the jumbotron at games. The team is making its mark on Twitter as well, consistently trolling both fans and other teams on social media. The one line the Stars don't cross, however, is poking fun at a specific team or specific player. They only single out other teams when there is some sort of celebrity or pop culture reference involved. 

“You’re trolling, is what you are doing, but you’ve got to find a way to do it tastefully,” Walsh said to Sports Illustrated.

Other teams are starting to follow the Stars' lead. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks have all developed a sassy social media persona, and many NHL team accounts attempt to create online rivalries with humor-laden tweets directed at each other. 

As social media continues to evolve, teams continue to expand their presence online and on mobile, as many NHL teams also now have Snapchat, Instagram, Vine and Periscope accounts. The sass and light-hearted messages make each team an enjoyable follow, and it seems like what started out as a couple of from the Stars has now revolutionized the social media popularity game within the NHL.

(h/t Sports Illustrated

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