The Boston Bruins come to town on Tuesday, and with them come -- as they almost always will -- the stories about the blockbuster trade that sent Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars on July 4, 2013.
Leading up to the trade there were rumors and speculation that the former No. 2 overall pick could be traded and, as we have all become very well aware, the endless stories began to come out about how much of a "problem child" Seguin had become -- and how the Bruins couldn't wait to get rid of the dynamic scorer in favor of some players that fit better into their system and way of life, so to speak.
There's no doubting that a change of scenery helped Seguin out, and has helped him become the player and person he is now in Dallas. He has admitted this himself, that being in a locker room with players more his own age and social status (read: single) helped him not only become more an actual member of the team, but has helped him become a leader on and off the ice as well.
Last season Seguin blossomed spectacularly with Jamie Benn on his wing after moving back to his natural position of center. The issues that might or might not have existed in Boston certainly didn't follow him to Dallas, and along with his best friend and team captain has become one of the top leaders on the Dallas Stars this season and even more spectacularly -- could finish the season leading the NHL in goals and overall points.
What has really stood out, especially to those fortunate enough to spend time around the team off the ice, is how Seguin has matured beyond what his age might suggest. The Stars top center has played almost a lifetime of hockey in just four seasons, winning the Stanley Cup once and going to the Finals twice and then enduring a big trade at just 21 years of age that sent him from Boston to Dallas. He's honest and open with the media, he's embraced his role as the "face of the franchise" for the Stars and has quickly become a fan favorite in Dallas -- in short, he's become the superstar center Jim Nill envisioned the trade was made.
Seguin's game isn't perfect -- but whose game is? He's a speedy and gifted goal-scorer and that's his focus when he's on the ice, but over his time in Dallas coach Lindy Ruff has also found a way to round out Seguin's game defensively as well. He's more physical and tenacious in his own zone than he's often given credit for and while he's certainly always looking to turn the puck up the ice, it's rare to find a time where Seguin was legitimately "cheating" or playing lazy on the backcheck these days.
Don't tell that to the Boston media, however.
On Monday, in anticipation of the upcoming matchup between the Bruins and Stars, the Boston Globe ran a feature on the NHL's top goal-scorer this season (technically tied with Rick Nash, for now). It's a great breakdown of how the trade has worked out so well for the Stars and not quite like how Boston had hoped for the Bruins, as well as another history lesson in what led up to the trade and the brutal PR campaign against Seguin that quickly followed.
On it's surface, it's a legitimately entertaining and well-written article -- and it revealed something interesting about last week's 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Seguin faced off against Kyle Turris. Seguin scraped the puck into the corner. Time ran out. Dallas won, 5-4.
Ten minutes later, two emergency medical technicians hustled into American Airlines Center's home dressing room. A Dallas player was suffering from dehydration.
Approximately 30 minutes after the win, the player emerged. A green bandage covered the hole where the EMTs had threaded the IV into his tattooed left arm. The previous morning, after reporting to the Stars' practice facility, he had been sent home after vomiting.
That's something we hadn't heard yet. It's not uncommon for players to have to receive fluids either during games or after them, and we rarely hear when it happens, but it speaks to just how much Seguin left out on the ice that night against Ottawa. It was clear he was far, far from 100% that night and might have played his worst game of the season because of it -- yet in the final minutes, it was Seguin making physical plays along the boards to help secure the win for Dallas.
The feature is an interesting one, in that it spends a lot of time discussing how good Seguin has become and how the trade might have made sense at the time -- but hasn't worked out quite like intended for Boston. As below:
A season and a half later, the trade is sprinting in the wrong direction for the Bruins. Eriksson is a good fit on the third line with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg. He's the team's third-leading scorer with 28 points. He's averaging 17:54 minutes of ice time per game, second among team forwards. But the 29-year-old Eriksson's skating is declining. He is under contract for one more season at $4 million.
Reilly Smith is playing at his ceiling as a No. 2 right wing who benefits from playing with Patrice Bergeron. Joe Morrow is in Providence. Matt Fraser is in Edmonton, waived because he couldn't get open to use his heavy and accurate shot.
Placed throughout the story, however, are several backhanded potshots at Seguin that once again shows the bias the Boston media has had towards the young scorer ever since the day the trade went down, and continues the push the narrative of a player that could never do what it took to make it in the Big and Bad Boston Bruins system -- and that is why he needed to go.
Observe...On the surface, these are fairly innoccous statements. Yet the statements made here aren't backed up by any of the quotes from the Stars used for the story -- nothing is used to quantify these statements at all.
Seguin swung his stick to try and jar pucks off opponents' blades. He approached puck carriers backside first and bounced off his checks. He peeled north and blew his defensive-zone coverage. After an offensive-zone turnover, he hesitated before backchecking. It was SOS - Same Old Segs, the stuff that drove his former club cuckoo.
This was the description of Seguin's game against Ottawa....the one where he had to have EMTs administer fluids for dehydration.
For all his production, Seguin has underachieved. The Stars believe he has the power to do more.
Underachieved? Sure, he hasn't reached his proverbial ceiling just yet, but "underachieved" is a deliberate, and misleading term.
He has grown into 200 pounds of shredded Texas beef. If Seguin would pause, engage, and lean into his opponents, he'd be strong enough to separate players from pucks and go on the attack. Instead, he cheats.
How does he cheat? No example is given, other than a quote from Ruff about wanting his team to not just stick fight for the puck. He's a goal-scorer and he's looking to do just that, and it's clear to anyone who regularly watches just how far Seguin has come defensively since coming to Dallas. Interesting, considering the system he was in with the Bruins.
Dallas has the NHL's No. 2 offense (3.13 goals per game). But they allow 3.27 goals per game, third worst in the league.
Bringing up the goals allowed per game by the Stars is interesting in this story. Apparently this is Seguin's fault.
Admittedly, the above is nitpicking and highlighting small segments of an overall well-written feature on the full saga of the trade. In fact, the full point of the feature is how the Bruins might be regretting the trade given how it's worked out so far.
The story is rather revealing and an enjoyable read overall on the trade, just over 18 months later. It reveals that Seguin didn't learn he was going to Dallas until well after the trade was made, seeing as he was on vacation in Cape Cod and had limited cell reception -- and also shows why those reports of "Seguin parties after being traded" were such crap.
But The Globe also reveals the neverending bias the Boston media will always have towards this trade and towards Tyler Seguin himself. This is just one example, but for those that pay attention it's easy to find such shots coming from Boston on a regular basis -- and it will be interesting to see how they respond with another game between the two teams coming tomorrow.
It also shows just how Tyler Seguin will never be able to truly prove his detractors wrong, no matter how much is accomplished. Perhaps if he wins the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy and Conn Smyth all in one season the "hating" might back off some, but it's likely that Seguin might not exactly want it that way. He's used the way he was run out of town in Boston as motivation to remake his career in Dallas, and Stars fans couldn't be happier.
Tyler Seguin wants to be in Dallas, and that's what matters most.
"When I came in, Jim [Nill] sat me down and said, ‘Anything that's happened thus far, we're going to move on. We're going to build something here. We're going to pretend this is Day 1,' " Seguin said. "Sometimes it almost feels like me being in Boston was like being in college. It's different. This is the type of team I was supposed to be drafted to more than into a Stanley Cup team. It doesn't happen like that. This is where I was supposed to grow."