When Mike Ribeiro came to the Dallas Stars from the Montreal Canadiens in September 2006 he was a guy in need of a fresh start. In a way, Ribeiro’s looking at this season as another fresh start. It’s a fresh start not only for him, but for his team as well.
“It’s a new season,” said Ribeiro. “It’s a fresh start for everyone. It’s the second year for the coach. Everything is in the right place to start the season and now it’s time for the players to show up, do the right thing and play as a team.”
The Stars will be trying to get back to the playoffs after two straight seasons finishing out of the top eight in the Western Conference.
Ribeiro will be trying to get back on track after a season where his offensive production dropped. He led the Stars in scoring in 2007-08 and 2008-09 by being basically a point a game player but last season he didn’t produce at that pace, registering 53 points (19 goals, 34 assists) in 66 games. There were struggles adjusting to coach Marc Crawford’s push the pace style. He missed time with a throat injury as well.
He’s worked hard over the summer to get ready for the upcoming season. He was one of the first players to return to Frisco to resume skating and he’s looked like a determined, focused player in those player skates at the Stars’ practice facility. Crawford’s noticed Ribeiro’s resolve.
“I think he realizes he’s got more to give,” said Crawford. “If you look at his history, when he first came here he had a lot to prove. That’s when he played his best. That’s what I see. He really looks like a guy that wants to prove something. That’s music to our ears right now.”
Ribeiro shrugged at the idea that he has something to prove. Last year is history, he said, and he’s just looking forward. He joked that the reason he looks so good during those workouts in Frisco is he’s been skating longer than everybody else. But he did say he is anxious to get going.
“I’m ready. It was a long offseason,” Ribeiro said. “I’m just ready to get started and have a good season.”
That long offseason had its rocky moments for Ribeiro. His name was featured prominently when it came to trade rumors and speculation, especially during the NHL Entry Draft. And his name continued to pop up throughout the rest of the summer.
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk put the rumors and speculation to rest for now when he told ESPNDallas.com earlier this week that Ribeiro was staying put.
“I reassured him that I have no intentions of moving him. I think he was worried about it. There was speculation out there that he was going to be moved any day,” Nieuwendyk said over the weekend. “I talked him to a couple of weeks ago and said, ‘Mike, you need to do some things for me and I need to do some things for you, but I fully expect you are going to have a big year.’”
Ribeiro was well aware of the rumors and speculation. He said the lines of communication were open with the Stars and that was key.
“If you guys heard [the rumors] then I heard them too. Especially the way it ended last year. It was a rocky ending and you really don’t know what the team is thinking,” Ribeiro said. “We had good talks during the summer, at least two or three times. I think it was really important. I think last year we didn’t really communicate well as player to coach and player to management. For them it was to reinforce that they want to keep me and for me it was to work hard, be in the gym and do the details that make the team better. I am ready to do that.”