As part of our look back at the season that was, the DBD staff has put together a Top 10 list of the most defining moments of the season, moments that have an impact beyond the scope of just one season. Since most of these happened off the ice and built upon many of the previous moments, they are listed in chronological order.
Nine of the top 10 items on this list of defining moments deal directly with what the Dallas Stars franchise did over the last year, both on and off the ice.
This one, however, has happened not to the Stars but because of them.
At No. 4 in in the 2013 NHL entry draft, Seth Jones became the highest Texas-born (and largely Texas-trained) player ever drafted. He, like Chris Brown and Stefan Noesen before him, were direct products of the youth hockey infrastructure put into place by the Stars after they came to the Metroplex in 1993.
Jones, who was born in Dallas and moved back to the city when he was 12, came through the Dallas Junior Stars system, playing with their U-14 and U-18 teams before heading to the United States National Development Team and eventually the WHL. His younger brother Caleb, who is now making his own way through the USNDT program, also played with the Dallas Junior Stars.
And while the elder Jones is the player to make the biggest splash this year - 25 points on a mediocre Predators team as a rookie defenseman is very impressive, especially for an 18-year-old - he isn't the only native Texan making an impact on the NHL. According to hockey-reference.com (and with the addition of Jones, who was born in Arlington), three Texas-born players were in the NHL last season.
To be fair, Tyler Myers only half-counts, as he is the flip side of Jones' story - a player who started hockey in Texas but really honed his craft elsewhere after a family move. But Jones was a legitimate top four defenseman for the Predators, and Chris Brown picked up his first NHL goal with the Washington Capitals while splitting time between the AHL and NHL.
Another Dallas-area prospect, Stefan Noesen, who is property of the Anaheim Ducks, missed almost the entire season with a ACL injury. But he did return in the playoffs for the AHL's Norfolk Admirals, picking up four assists in four games.
The money and support the Stars have poured into local rinks and youth hockey is paying off and in a big way. As a state, Texas had fewer than 1,000 registered players with USA Hockey when the Stars came to Dallas. Since then, that number has grown to nearly 12,000, and it continues to climb.
And the elite prospects are still out there. While Caleb Jones is the big name in the undrafted ranks, there are several Texas-trained players in the college ranks and the top tier of midget and junior hockey. Jones, Brown and Noesen are just the front end of a tide that is slowly rising thanks to the time, effort and presence of the Stars, who have officially made North Texas a place where NHL players can come from.