Camp notes: A tribute to Karlis Skrastins

CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island -- One of the first things the Dallas Stars did upon arriving in Prince Edward Island for training camp was pay tribute to Karlis Skrastins, the former Star who was killed in the crash of a plane carrying the KHL team Lokomotiv earlier this month.

At a team dinner Friday night there was a video tribute to Skrastins and a talk by Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk.

Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said it was an emotional tribute and there was a message to be taken from it.

“He exemplifies exactly what we want to be as a team. He is the perfect example,” Robidas said. “He never complained about anything. Over his career nobody really talked about him, but he really didn’t care and he always did his job and took pride in it. His job wasn’t easy, he played through pain and he would have done anything to help the team win. That’s the bottom line.

“That’s the identity that we want to have as a team. Every day for each other and everybody counts. Everybody has a job to do, whether you are the top line or the fourth line or even the guy that is not playing. Everybody is a part of it. There is not one individual that is bigger than the team. I think for this team that is the main thing. We are all in this together. It’s guys understanding their role and working hard at it.”

The Stars announced earlier this week that they would wear a “37” decal on their helmets to remember Skrastins, who wore No. 37 the two years he played in Dallas.

Time in PEI a chance to bond

This is the second straight year the Stars have started training camp in Prince Edward Island. It’s a chance for the players to spend time together and bond. It’s something the Stars think paid dividends last season, and the hope is it will pay off again this season.

“It is really important. You can’t really overemphasize how important it is for us to have this time together to really bond. It did wonders for us last year. We got off to a great start. I think our trip to PEI was a big part of that,” said forward Toby Petersen. “Guys came together really quickly. Last season we wanted to have a good focus in the preseason and get off to a good start, realizing the teams that jell in the preseason tend to get off to a great start in the regular season. We did that. Obviously, we didn’t win every game but we were paying attention to details and it carried through into the regular season. That’s something we can carry over into this season.”

Forward Steve Ott said it’s especially important this season with seven new players on the roster after GM Joe Nieuwendyk’s busy summer in the free agent market.

“The only way you are going to get to know somebody is to sit down and hang out with the guy and find out about him,” Ott said. “Being here is going to make that a lot easier and we’re going to be able to do that over the next few days.”

Fans make long trek from Dallas to watch camp

It’s not unusual to see a Dallas Stars fan from Prince Edward Island or one of the neighboring provinces around Charlottetown checking out the Stars. But seeing two Dallas Stars season ticketholders here in PEI is a different story.

Gail Newsome and Whitney Newell had about a 12 hour travel day to make it from Dallas to Charlottetown to watch the Stars over the next few days.

“We’re avid fans, avid fans,” Newsome explained.

She and Newell have been Stars fans since the 1998-1999 season.

“Whitney said we should do something different and get hockey season tickets, and I looked at her like she was crazy. I knew nothing about hockey,” said Newsome. “We bought a partial season ticket that year they won the Stanley Cup and we were addicted about two months into it. We’ve had full season tickets ever since.”

Newsome and Newell decided if the Stars came back to PEI this year they’d make the trip as well. Traveling to follow the Stars is nothing new to the pair. It’s becomes somewhat of a tradition.

“We went to Pittsburgh three years ago at Mellon Arena and then the year after that we went to San Jose,” said Newell. “Last year we didn’t make a game and this is our away game this year, if you will.”

They’ll check out some of the tourist attractions around PEI. The Shellfish Festival is on tap for Sunday. But the main focus is on Stars hockey, and the atmosphere is ideal.

“It’s so much cooler here. So we have cooler temperatures and hockey,” said Newsome. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Sunday’s schedule (Local time)

Here’s Sunday’s schedule. Prince Edward Island is two hours ahead of Dallas, so the scrimmage will be at 4:00 p.m. Central Time.

Group B (Charlottetown Civic Centre)

10:00 – 10:50 a.m. : Practice

Group A (Charlottetown Civic Centre)

11:00 – 11:50 a.m. : Practice

Scrimmage (Charlottetown Civic Centre)

6:00 p.m.