Nashville Predators center Mike Ribeiro was pleased to see a familiar face when he reported early to participate in informal team skates on Tuesday. It turns out another new arrival, left wing James Neal, had already been in town for a few days.
Center - NSH
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 31 | PTS: 47
SOG: 110 | +/-: -13
Ribeiro and Neal played together for parts of three seasons with the Dallas Stars
and the center hopes his former teammate can help him kickstart his career after being bought out by the Arizona Coyotes
on June 27.
"We played before, we're friends since then. It will just be a matter of practicing together and talking," Ribeiro told the Predators website. "I'm sure he's learned some stuff since his first year in the League. It's just getting back that chemistry. You do that by practicing together and trying to find what he likes and what I like to do."
Neal has scored at least 20 goals in each of his six NHL seasons and could potentially help Ribeiro bounce back from a disappointing season with the Coyotes. The veteran center scored 16 goals and 47 points in 80 games before being bought out one season into a four-year, $22 million contract he signed in 2013.
Ribeiro enjoyed one of his best statistical seasons with Dallas during Neal's rookie year in 2008-09, scoring 22 goals and tying a career high set the previous season with 56 assists. He hopes that arriving in Nashville early to skate with his former teammate might help him take advantage of the opportunity the Predators have provided.
"I'm more comfortable. It was good for me to come early and meet the staff and meet the players so Day One will be like I've been here for a while and not be the new guy in the room," Ribeiro said. "It's nice to come earlier and meet everyone and be comfortable in the room."