LOS ANGELES -- The Dallas Stars were settling in for a routine flight on Sunday afternoon, hitting relax mode for their trip from St. Louis to Los Angeles.
All of a sudden, the usual turned into the unusual.
"All the guys had their sweatpants on and their iPads out, watching videos and relaxing already," Stars forward Patrick Sharp said on Monday at Staples Center. "Next thing you know we're making a U-turn and landing right away. It put a shock to the system, but we're thankful we're got out OK and the people running the plane did a heck of a job."
Smoke in the plane's cockpit, possibly from an electrical malfunction, required a return back to the St. Louis Downtown Airport. The plane was carrying Stars players, coaches and team staff members. They waited at the airport and another plane was brought in from Columbia, Missouri, a team official said.
The Stars play the Los Angeles Kings on Monday (10:30 p.m. ET; SN, FS-W, FS-SW+, NHL.TV). Previously, Dallas had a flight delay before its first game after the Christmas break. The Stars were flying on game day from Dallas to Arizona on Dec. 27 and ended up skating at their practice facility before taking another flight and arriving for the game against the Arizona Coyotes in plenty of time.
Sunday was different in that the plane was in the air for a few minutes.
"It was unnerving," Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. "I think that's something you don't want to go through. A lot of things cross your mind. It was a tough day travel wise but it was a tough day on the mental side too. … I think everybody on that plane had different thoughts but the thoughts were all the same.
"I think the crew did a heck of a job getting us back and I think they're prepared for it. We prepare to do our jobs. They prepare to do theirs and the crew, the pilots did a fabulous job."
Ruff recalled several issues with travel throughout the years.
"I was on a plane where one engine blew, on takeoff, and we were able to keep it on the ground," he said. "I was on a plane with (the Buffalo Sabres) when we were about to land and the snowplow pulled out in the middle of the runway and we had to abort that landing and the plow driver pulled right off the runway.
"He didn't know the plane was coming, I guess. So we had some takeoffs where we shut it down. Some landings into a small airport in New Jersey where we aborted landings. It gets the heart-rate going."
The Stars players did not get off the plane wearing their sweats.
"Put the suits right back on and got off the plane," Sharp said. "Shortest three-minute flight ever."