Days until the season opener: 20
Training camp is officially underway, and that means the long summer of slow Stars news cycles is finally over. From now until (hopefully) next August, we'll have a constant stream of Stars news every single day. And look out for a DefendingBigD Live sometime in the near future. Rejoice!
I know that's as bare bones of an opening as you can get, but I really have nothing awesome to say. So....on to the news!
There was a bit of disappointment here and among the Stars fanbase that the team would begin their training camp with three days in Prince Edward Island, Canada. But Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News has a story with some quotes from Joe Nieuwendyk up today on why the Stars wanted to start camp on the road:
"They obviously were very proactive in getting us, and I think we also had an idea from the start that this would be something that has worked very well for this organization in the past with Vail. So I think we all pushed ahead with this year, knowing the schedule wasn't perfect, but also knowing that it would be a really nice chance to see how it works."
Back in the 1990s, the Stars typically held a week of training camp in Vail, Colo. and that tradition was seen as one of the reasons the team won the Stanley Cup in 1999. Nieuwendyk was a part of those teams, and so was Stars captain Brenden Morrow.
You know, the more I hear the team talking about what this can do for team chemistry, the more I like it. I will always remember Razor talking on The Ticket about how the bus rides were often quiet last season. We all remember how close that Cup team was....now, camp obviously has only a small role in that, but anything to try and spark more chemistry amongst the guys is a plus in my book.
After the jump, news and notes from the first day of camp, Mike Ribeiro is suddenly buff, and GM Joe gets grilled by a teenager...
"I thought it was a really good first day," said Stars coach Marc Crawford. "That first day you are kind of getting a feel for the ice and you are getting a feel for that body contact. That's the biggest change that happens once you get into the first day. They can skate pretty hard in their workouts, but the body contact is the big change."
Crawford said there was some time spent on introducing systems, including their defensive zone coverage and how they want to play in the neutral zone. It was also a first chance to get a good look the newer players.
"It was our first chance to see players like [Severin] Blindenbacher, [Tomas] Vincour, [Scott] Glennie and some of the kids that were in Traverse City," Crawford said. "It's a chance to see how far the players that played with Texas in the AHL have come. And it's a chance to see the players you know that played in the Dallas and see how hard they worked in the summer. We're getting a chance to see how well conditioned guys like [James] Neal and [Matt] Niskanen really are. They've put a lot of effort into their conditioning. It showed right away."
Within that update, Mark lists the lines used yesterday. As expected, Jonathan Cheechoo was with Morrow and Ribeiro. Interestingly, Fabian Brunnstrom played the right wing beside Jamie Benn at center and Steve Ott. Count me intrigued by that line. And Philip Larsen was paired with Brad Lukowich, where I hope he absorbed veteran skills through osmosis.
He said that he allowed frustration to get the better of him last season and that he had a talk with Joe Nieuwendyk and Marc Crawford recently and that helped clear the air.
``It was a great to talk things out and just understand everything,'' Ribeiro said. ``I still have to prove to them that I'm here for the team and I have to prove that I can remain positive. A lot of times last year, I got my head down and let things frustrate me, and I can't let that happen. It was hard for us, because me and Brenden (Morrow) struggled and didn't maybe get used the way we were, and maybe I didn't fit as well. But Joe has been here a year and Crow has been here a year and I think we all know each other better now. I think we have a lot better attitude and a very hungry attitude. I think this is a very hungry team.''
Heika also mentions that Ribs has gone from 165 pounds last season to 177 pounds this season. By Heika's estimations, that's the biggest percentage gain on the team. Deke-tastic Ribs, now with 100% more physicality!
Ralph Strangis is providing daily updates on DallasStars.com from PEI. Today, he gives us this exchange between GM Joe and a fan:
Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk was navigating the hundreds of bodies in the lobby of the Cari Complex/McLaughlin Arena on the University of PEI campus on his way to his seat with the scouts and other hockey people this morning when he was stopped by young man.
"Mr. Nieuwendyk... can I have your autograph."
"Of course" said the Stars GM, who was signing about the 10th of what would be several dozen autographs that morning. As he was signing the photograph, the young man, maybe in his late teens said, "Can I ask you a question?"
Joe, who is always so obliging said "sure".
"How come you didn't draft Fowler or Gormley instead of Campbell in the first round?"
Poor Nieuwy. Can't even escape in his home country.