We continue celebrating Dallas Stars history this summer as we move closer and closer to their 20th year in the Metroplex with a look at Mike Ribeiro.
The Dallas Stars acquired Mike Ribeiro from the Montreal Canadiens on September 30th, 2006 in a trade for Janne Niinimaa. Montreal was looking to dump one of their troubled young stars for a little help on the blueline, while Dallas was looking to take a flier on an obviously talented player that they felt just needed a change of scenery. After being slowly eased into the lineup, he eventually took on a starring role in the Stars top six, finding chemistry with captain Brenden Morrow. He played a pivotal role in the 2008 run to the Western Conference Finals, and became one of the most productive and popular players on the roster.
Why He's On The List:
There is no denying Ribeiro's impact on this team from an offensive standpoint. He filled in quite well on both the first and second lines, put up impressive numbers, and went a long way to shed the stigma that followed him as a member of his hometown Canadiens. In his six seasons with the Stars, "Mickey Ribs" tallied 407 points in 461 regular season games. While the Stars missed the playoffs for the final four years of Ribeiro's tenure, he managed 20 points in 25 playoff games during his first two seasons with the franchise. He went from the bargain bin of the league into a respected role as a leader, entertainer, and part-time alternate captain of the Dallas Stars.
Continued after the jump...
When the Stars landed Mike Ribeiro from Montreal, I wasn't the only fan that was hesitant to jump for joy. While the payment was laughably low (Niinimaa would put up 3 points and a -13 rating for Montreal in 41 games, before being out of the league for good at season's end), Stars fans worried that a player of Mike Ribeiro's reputation would do more damage to the team's image and chemistry than any expected production would compensate for. Not unlike the acquisition of Dave Manson a few years earlier, I was not a fan of the man when he landed in Dallas, but by the time he left, he became one of my all-time favorites.
In his debut season in Dallas, Ribeiro didn't exactly have a defined role. In a group of full-time and part-time centers that already included Mike Modano, Eric Lindros, Stu Barnes, Steve Ott, Joel Lundqvist and Patrick Stefan, Ribeiro jumped around the lineup, starting primarily in the bottom six, as he became more acquainted with the Dave Tippett brand of hockey that the Dallas Stars played. He slowly earned the trust and respect of the team, and became a fixture of the top six and formed a dominant duo with Brenden Morrow.
Ribeiro and Morrow's peak came during the 2007-2008 season and subsequent playoffs. He was well over a point per game that season, tallying 83 points in 76 games. In the process, he turned Brenden Morrow from a top line checking forward with a knack for scoring into a scoring power forward with a knack for mucking and grinding. Morrow set career highs for goals and points en route to a very memorable playoff run that included victories against the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks, before finally falling to the dreaded Red Wings in the team's first trip to the Western Conference Finals since 2000.
An injury to Brenden Morrow the following year broke up the bromance that would never really regain it's dominance other than in spurts and flashes over the next four seasons. Ribeiro remained a very useful and productive offensive force, but not nearly at the level that had teased Stars fans in 2008. He eventually settled in to a role as second line center, behind Brad Richards, giving the Stars the best 1-2 punch up the middle that they'd had since Modano and Nieuwendyk. After the departure of Richards to the New York Rangers, the emergence of Jamie Benn as a viable option for center in the top six kept Ribeiro in a very familiar role of 1A and 1B.
Eventually his defensive downsides and overall struggles of the team led to the Stars and Ribeiro parting ways, but what Ribeiro lacked in defensive prowess, he more than made up for in entertainment value, flair, creativity, and dare I say swagger. From the season ending shootout goal in Colorado, to the silencing of the Los Angeles Kings bench, through all six shades of sexy, Ribeiro's play gave Stars fans something to be excited about during the darkest years in team history. Other than a hiccup here or there, Ribeiro also did a fantastic job staying out of trouble and being a positive contributor to the team.
On the other side of the coin, Ribeiro was notorious for overstaying shifts, being sheltered defensively by his coaches, and making bad turnovers at bad times. Many Stars fans feel as though his defensive short comings led to a disproportionate number of offensive zone starts for the Ribeiro line, hindering the offensive production and development of Jamie Benn's trio. This summer, when Joe Nieuwendyk and Tom Gaglardi began remaking the leadership core of the Stars, Ribeiro was shipped to the Washington Capitals in a draft day deal for Cody Eakin.
All in all, Mike Ribeiro left an indelible mark on this franchise. He grew up a fan of the Canadiens, and got to live the dream of playing for his boyhood heroes, but during his six years in Stars colors, you could tell that this team became a part of him. Love him or hate him, he's a Dallas Star through and through, and easily in the top 20 players to wear the green star.