With the start of 2014 just around the corner, now is the perfect time to look back and reminisce on all that happened in 2013.
For the Dallas Stars, a franchise in the midst of a huge transition, it was an even more eventful year than normal. Big hirings, a blockbuster trade, a bit of amazing luck and much more all took place, creating a memorable year that not only shook the foundations of the organization in the present, but also possibly set it up for much bigger things in the future.
Without further ado, here is a look back at the top 10 Dallas Stars moments of 2013:
10) A New Star Is Rising
For the Stars organization, it was time for a fresh start.
A lot changed for the team in 2013 in terms of personnel, and to supplement everything that was going on, the Stars decided to go for a new look as well, using the quiet summer months to introduce new jerseys, a new logo, and above all else, an overarching new atmosphere for the franchise, aptly titled A New Star Is Rising.
9) Vernon Fiddler’s Penalty Shot Goal
As can be expected right after a major change, it took the Stars a little while to adjust. Still trying to forge their new identity, the Stars struggled in the opening month of the season.
Things started to turn themselves around, however, on November 5th against the powerful Boston Bruins. Feeling dejected and trailing 2-1 late in the third period, 4th line center Vernon Fiddler, an unlikeliest of heroes, scored a beautiful penalty shot goal to tie the game. The Stars would later win the game in the shootout.
Although a single goal wouldn’t normally seem like it could have much long-lasting impact, it provided a huge spark for the Stars club, proving to themselves that they can compete against the very best teams in the league, and that they achieve great things if they remain persistent and strong-willed. Dallas’ 3rd period play so far this season, especially with the game close, is the best that it has been in years.
8) Jaromir Jagr Gets His 1000th Assist
One of the last major events for the team before the major summer makeovers saw one of the best players in the history of the NHL reach a remarkable milestone.
Even though Jaromir Jagr only played a total of 34 games as a Dallas Star, his impact on the franchise won’t soon be forgotten. The most accomplished and decorated player to ever don a Stars jersey, seeing Jagr play was watching a living legend. The wily veteran showed that he could still hold his own out on the ice, though, scoring 26 points for the Stars, including this landmark assist that was the 1000th of his career, becoming only the 12th player in NHL history to reach that mark.
7) 2013 Dallas Stars Christmas Video
Proving that memorable moments don’t always have to be serious is Exhibit A: the Stars’ hilarious Christmas video this year.
The video debuted during the 1st intermission of Dallas’ December 23rd game against the LA Kings and instantly went viral on Twitter, spawning the team’s top social media sensation for 2013: #ImValNichushkin
6) Jamie Benn Named Stars Captain
When previous Stars captain Brenden Morrow was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at last season’s trade deadline, there was no question as to who the early front-runner was to be the next Dallas player to wear the “C”.
Although it wasn’t made official until the summer, it came as little surprise when it was announced that 24 year-old forward Jamie Benn would be the team’s next captain. Already a leader on and off the ice despite his young age, the hardworking Benn was an obvious fit to lead the blue-collar Stars, and is already looking comfortable with his new role and responsibilities.
5) Stars Hire Lindy Ruff As New Head Coach
For the past two seasons the Stars were led behind the bench by Glen Gulutzan, but something just wasn’t quite right.
Gulutzan has a great mind for the game and had success in the minors, but was young and inexperienced at the NHL level, and had trouble defining roles and forging an identity for his equally young and inexperienced roster.
After Gulutzan was let go at the start of summer, the Stars went the exact opposite direction in terms of coaches, hiring one of the most experienced bench bosses in NHL history in Lindy Ruff.
The early returns are promising, as the Stars appear stronger and more consistent under Ruff than in years past. With a long history and a rich resume (2006 Jack Adams winner as NHL coach of the year), Ruff’s experience should be a wonderful benefit for Dallas’ young and developing core.
4) Benn And Seguin Torch The Flames
Entering the 2013-2014 season, Dallas Stars fans had a lot to be excited about offensively thanks to the newly formed top line duo of Benn and brand new Star Tyler Seguin (more on him later).
And really, why shouldn’t they have been excited? Benn and Seguin are both young, highly-talented players that play the game with plenty of speed and skill.
Chemistry was expected, but no one was expecting it to happen so instantly and so dramatically. Benn and Seguin are already one of the NHL’s best duos, with both players in the top annals of the league’s scoring race. Their play has been so impressive that both individuals have firmly entered the competition for roster spots on the highly regarded Canadian team at the upcoming 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
On November 14th the combination of Benn and Seguin had their coming out party, at the expense of the Calgary Flames. Benn registered six points, while Seguin scored four goals and added an assist.
3) Valeri Nichushkin Selected 10th Overall At 2013 Draft
One of the biggest surprises of the year was also their luckiest moment.
Heading into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft with the 10th overall pick, the Stars knew that they needed to add one more piece to the puzzle to push their ongoing rebuild over the top. The team knew that they would be able to snag a top prospect at 10th overall, but there were concerns that all the “top tier” players available that year would be gone by the time it was their turn to pick.
Those concerns were put to rest when the team selected Valeri Nichushkin. Considered a top five, and by some even a top three, talent in the draft, Nichushkin is already being seen as a steal at 10th, and is the most exciting draft pick for the franchise since Mike Modano was selected 1st overall by the Minnesota North Stars in 1988.
Big, fast and highly skilled, Nichushkin is already playing on the team’s top line with Benn and Seguin at just 18 years of age, with 19 points in 37 games, and the sky is still the limit for his potential. That pick could easily end up having a huge impact on the future of the Stars.
2) Stars Hire Jim Nill As General Manager
The second biggest moment that affected the Dallas Stars in 2013 doesn’t involve a player on the ice, but rather the man in the office and the press box that oversees all the players.
After more than two decades in the renowned Detroit Red Wings organization, most of them as assistant general manager, Jim Nill was hired by the Stars in the summer of 2013 for his first gig as the de facto GM of an NHL club.
Considered by many as the top GM candidate in the league, Nill had been sought after by teams for a GM role for years before finally agreeing to take the reigns in Dallas. Smart, experienced, and infectiously personable, Nill is as classy as they come, and his presence is already being felt throughout the entire Stars organization.
Nill has the goal of returning the Stars back to the status of one of the NHL’s most successful organizations, and has already begun the process of executing his plan. He wasted no time in making his first blockbuster move with the Stars, which leads us to…
1) Stars Acquire Tyler Seguin From Boston
July 4th, 2013. That’s a day that could potentially be a historic one for the Stars organization, which makes it an easy choice to be #1 on this list.
On that day Nill made his second trade as Stars GM and one of the biggest trades in franchise history, acquiring Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley and Ryan Button from the Boston Bruins in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow.
Seguin, 21, was drafted 2nd overall by the Bruins in 2010 and is a premier talent with franchise player potential. The Stars were in desperate need of help up the middle, and Seguin has fit in perfectly so far. As previously mentioned, he is already centering Dallas’ top line, and has a long, bright future ahead of him.
The Stars gave up four solid assets to acquire him, but if everything goes according to plan it could be a move that forever changes the course of hockey in Dallas.
Derek Neumeier primarily covers the Dallas Stars, but also other various topics related to the sport of hockey. A Journalism graduate of Mount Royal University, Derek also writes for Defending Big D, and has done previous work with the Edmonton Oilers as a communications intern and Hockey Canada as a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @Derek_N_NHL