The Dallas Stars have announced that beginning in the 2014-15 season, they will no longer ice youth travel teams known as the Dallas Jr. Stars. In 2013-14 there were nine Jr. Stars teams - three playing out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Frisco, one out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch and five out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Euless. Affected players in the Jr. Stars association are permitted to try out for travel teams in other associations, to try out for their local team in the AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League (age permitting) and/or to play on a team in the Dallas Stars Youth Hockey League at a local rink near their home.
For affected Jr. Stars players on the west side of the Metroplex, the Dallas Stars and Texas Brahmas Youth Hockey Association based at the NYTEX Sports Centre, along with the Dallas Stars Travel Hockey League, have announced a cooperation agreement that helps streamline the League. Jointly announced by Dallas Stars Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jason Farris and Jr. Brahmas President Frank Trazzera, the cooperation agreement shifts the Farmers Branch Jr. Stars team to the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Euless and then consolidates the number of travel teams playing out of NYTEX and out of the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Euless from 13 to ten. Effective immediately, all DSTHL teams in those two rinks will be run by, and play under the branding of, Jr. Brahmas.
"Having Jr. Stars teams in a Stars-named league conflicts with the support that we want to provide to the local hockey-playing community," stated Farris. "Icing teams in a travel hockey league to compete against and beat other local organizations with whom we are trying to co-operate to grow the game is contradictory. DFW is lucky to have many fine, long-standing travel youth hockey associations. The Stars operating teams in that middle area of the hockey pyramid wasn't the best way for us to grow the game for the benefit of all. Make no mistake," Farris emphasized, "the Dallas Stars support hockey in all its forms in our market, but where we believe we must concentrate our efforts is on growing the game at the base of the hockey pyramid - from our Little Rookies program to the recreational DSYHL - and at the very top of the hockey pyramid with the highest performing players."
"The Jr. Brahmas are stout in our commitment to the youth hockey landscape and by cooperating in this manner with the Dallas Stars, the families dedicating their time and resources to our sport will be better served," stated Trazzera. As part of the cooperation agreement, NYTEX will be using the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Euless as its primary overflow rink for both practice sessions and games.
"At first glance by the casual observer, reducing youth travel teams might sound like a bad thing," said DSTHL board member Bryan Ford. "The fact is that it helps correct the proliferation of travel teams that occurred in previous years. This aligns with the primary goal of the DSTHL to right size the number of teams to the number of players at appropriately skilled levels. This also maintains a high level of competitiveness while avoiding the talent pool being spread too thin across too many teams."
Reggie Hall, President of the Texas Amateur Hockey Association observed that, "we have long believed the number of travel teams and organizations has outstripped the pool of available talent leading to unnecessary costs and players competing at the wrong skill levels. Reducing the number of travel teams doesn't mean less hockey, instead it will mean better and more affordable hockey, particularly for those just discovering our game. This is bold move by the NHL Stars and should produce substantial benefits to the hockey community."
"There is a higher level of priority placed on winning at the travel league level and with that, there is a considerably larger financial investment," stated Farris. "More than 70% of our youth hockey players aged 9 to 17 in the area are playing travel hockey which means there are a number of participants that aren't getting the chance to properly develop and play. By consolidating the number of teams, the best players at each level will be slotted better to their skill level which will ultimately lead to a larger number of better-developed hockey players. In a way, this will help 'right-size' the hockey-playing pyramid in our area that will lead to a better, more competitive hockey playing market and reduce cost for some families."
The Dallas Stars will host town-hall style discussions for interested Jr. Stars families at the Dr Pepper StarCenters in Frisco and will do the same jointly with the Jr. Brahmas at NYTEX and at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Euless at a later date to answer any and all questions from families that will be impacted by these announcements.
These announcements in no way impact the Dallas Jr. Stars that play in the NA3HL.