STOCKHOLM -- It's a 5,000-mile journey from Dallas to Gothenburg, Sweden, the offseason home of John Klingberg.
For new Dallas Stars coach Jim Montgomery, it was a trip well worth taking.
Not wanting to wait until training camp to meet with the Dallas defenseman, Montgomery visited with Klingberg earlier this summer to let him know how important he was to the Stars' plans.
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The three-hour conversation has Klingberg champing at the bit for the season to start.
"[Montgomery's] visit has me excited," Klingberg, 26, said during the NHL European Player Media Tour on Thursday. "We have the potential to do some big things.
"For him to come all this way to meet with me, that tells a lot for sure. Obviously this is his work and it's his work he's really proud of. But at the same time just being that motivated and coming all the way over to sit down and do this just to get prepared for the season to start and hopefully get a head start over some other teams, I think that's huge. To me, I think that's a difference-maker to start the season."
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The Stars (42-32-8, 92 points) finished 10th in the Western Conference last season and missed the playoffs for the second straight season. Montgomery, who was hired on May 4, is the third Stars coach in three seasons.
Having played for Lindy Ruff in 2016-17 and Ken Hitchcock in 2017-18, Klingberg welcomed Montgomery's efforts to make the transition as easy as possible.
"He's young in terms of coming into the League," Klingberg said. "First timer. But I think that can be a good thing as well because you kind of have to take that step that you need to have that communication to build that off. I think that that's something he's already proved by coming over to Sweden and having lunch with me."
Montgomery, 49, spent the past five seasons at the University of Denver, where he had a 125-57-26 record and coached the team to the NCAA title in 2017.
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Klingberg finished tied for second with Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks in scoring among NHL defensemen with 67 points (eight goals, 59 assists), one behind John Carlson of the Washington Capitals. His desire to become better in his own end is serving as motivation heading into training camp, which opens Sept. 14 in Boise, Idaho.
"I want to be 'The Guy,' sure," Klingberg said. "But if I'm going to be a true, true No. 1, I have to play more defensive minutes. That's maybe something I have a chance to do this year. I want to take that next step and prove to the coaches that they can trust me defensively as well. I've played the (penalty kill) before and I think I'm pretty solid.
"The great thing is, the coach knows what I think and I know what he thinks. We're already a step ahead of the game."