Central Hockey League (1978-1982)
Folded: Spring 1982
Arena: Myriad Convention Center
The Oklahoma City Stars hockey team was a minor league affiliate of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars (1978-1981) and Calgary Flames (1981-1982) for four seasons. The team replaced the once-popular Oklahoma City Blazers (1965-1977) on the local hockey scene after the Blazers went dark a year earlier. Both the Blazers and the Stars competed in the Central Hockey League (1963-1984).
The best player to come out of Oklahoma City during the Stars era was undrafted free agent Dino Ciccarelli. The 19-year old Ontario native signed with the North Stars in September 1979 after getting ignored in the NHL entry draft. He made his pro debut in Oklahoma City late in the 1979-80 CHL season. Ciccarelli spent most of the 1980-81 campaign in Oklahoma, scoring 32 goals in 48 games. By springtime he was in the NHL, scoring 14 playoff goals as a key member of Minnesota’s Stanley Cup finalist squad in 1981. Ciccarelli went on to play 19 seasons in the NHL and his 608 career goals are the most ever by an undrafted free agent player. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Class of 2010.
By the early 1980’s, the Central Hockey League was under severe financial strain, due in part to broad geographic expansion that required more and more air travel. The Stars competed against teams as far afield as Cincinnati, Ohio and Birmingham, Alabama. Late in the 1981-82 season, the Stars declared bankruptcy. Local owner John Hail estimated the club ran a deficit of approximately $1.1 million in its final season, with local investors on the hook for $400,000 and parent club Calgary Flames footing an additional $700,000 in costs.
The Stars went of out of business in the spring of 1982. The CHL followed two years later in May 1984. Pro hockey returned to Oklahoma City a decade later with the formation of the Oklahoma City Blazers in a new version of the Central Hockey League in 1992.