Dallas Stars Defining Moments of 2013-14: At Long Last, Stars Return to the Playoffs

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The ultimate defining moment for the Stars came at its climax, when the team was finally able to take advantage of the opportunities that had eluded them in recent season and return to the playoffs.

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.

There was so much hope riding on the Dallas Stars this season, so much promise with all the changes the team made in the offseason, from general manager to coach to captain to first line center to even the freaking jerseys.

But it would all be for naught, all the optimism and talk of a fresh start and even the rejuvinated fanbase, if the Stars couldn't make good on the promise of a brighter future. Beyond the fact that Dallas has always been a winners town, there might not have been a bigger kick to the gut of Stars fans that if somehow changing everything didn't end up changing anything about the end result.

The team certainly did it the hard way, but on that night in early April with the door wide open in front of them, the Stars finally, finally stepped through. As Ralph Strangis said at the time, those five years, 10 months and 23 days later, all that time and energy and emotion became worth it. The Stars were back.

I'll let Taylor address the high points of the games themselves, but from a larger perspective, it's hard to understate exactly how much making the playoffs this season meant to this franchise.

Sure, you could argue that regardless of the end result, they would have positive momentum on their side with all the changes pointing the ship in the right direction. But sports in the end is all about result, and it's so hard to pitch "better process" to a fanbase that was understandably wary after the last five years. The situation with the bankruptcy, the "win-and-your-in" losses, all of those combined for a fairly cynical fanbase, especially on the casual side.

But making the playoffs again, that gives fans real reason to believe. You could tell in the reception for the team in the playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks. This is something that had been too long in coming.

It helped the business side of the franchise as well. Team president Jim Lites was quoted as saying the team sold 1,200 new season tickets for next season the week after the Stars clinched a playoff berth. That's a huge number for a team that is trying to rekindle ties with a rejuvinated hockey audience and one that also indicates just how hungry this market is for a team on the rise.

There were so many reasons this team could have failed to make the playoffs. They were in the most difficult division in hockey. They had a new coach and took a while to settle into his system and expectations. They lost their No. 1 defenseman for the season to injury in late November, then eventually to trade. Their starting goalie got a nasty looking concussion in the late run for the playoffs. They went through the trauma of seeing a teammate collapse with a life-threatening medical emergency.

Yet in this year when they had all the excuses to fade, they finally didn't.

The journey isn't over, obviously. The Stars have plenty to chew on after a disappointing Game 6 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. They have a ways to go to be at the level of the teams competing for the Stanley Cup.

But they took the first step forward and were able to define this new era, this new star that is rising, as one with more than just potential. They showed all the changes weren't just window dressing. And they gave the fanbase real, tangible reason to believe the Stars will soon be shining brighter than ever.

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