VANCOUVER (CP) - Dallas Stars centre Mike Ribeiro has let go of the bitterness he felt toward the Montreal Canadiens.
It helped when the Canadiens, who dealt Ribeiro to the Stars last fall, finished out of the NHL playoffs. "I didn't want them to make the playoffs. I got my wish," Ribeiro said with a laugh prior to the Stars facing the Vancouver Canucks in Friday's Game 2 of their Western Conference quarter-final series.
"Now it's over. I'm just happy here and happy with my life here."
The Stars are also very happy with Ribeiro.
The 27-year-old with the fast feet and magic wand of a stick led Dallas with 59 points in 81 games this year from 18 goals and 41 assists. He also had an assist in the Stars' 5-4, quadruple-overtime loss to Vancouver in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series.
"He's been a great addition of skill we needed," said centre Mike Modano. "With a lot of the injuries we had, his play stepped up when everybody was out.
"He's a good creative guy and makes a lot of great plays."
Ribeiro said playing on a line with captain Brenden Morrow, who missed 33 games with injuries, helped his totals.
"Brenden came back and we were pretty good together," said Ribeiro. "It helps your game to play with a guy that can player hard like that and be an all-around player."
Not being under the microscope of the Montreal media, and living in a hockey mad city, also made life easier.
"A lot of times you don't want to read the paper . . . but people came up to you and said you had a bad game or a good game," said Ribeiro. "It's nice to get out of the rink knowing that nobody recognizes you and you can do your own thing.
"You come to the rink and focus on what you have to do. It's a more mentally relaxed kind of life you live."
Ribeiro grew up in Montreal the only son of Portuguese parents. As a kid he couldn't afford to attend many Canadiens games but, like all his friends playing on the outdoor rinks, dreamed of someday wearing a Habs sweater.
"You grow up and you watch them for years, read about the history," Ribeiro said. "Then you have a chance to play for them.
"It was a dream come true, an amazing accomplishment."
Montreal selected Ribeiro 45th overall in the 1998 draft. He played six seasons in Montreal, with his best year being 2003-04, where he had 65 points and 20 goals.
The Canadiens dealt Ribeiro to Dallas last September for defenceman Janne Niinimaa. The deal caught Ribeiro by surprise.
"I was in shock a bit," he said. "I thought I was still young and had some stuff to prove. I was a little bit frustrated and mad at first.
"It's the past now. Once I got here and started playing you forget that."
Ribeiro said going to a team like Dallas made the move easier.
"I was kind of happy it was Dallas, not Columbus or somewhere where it would be more difficult to make the playoffs," he said. "To get traded to a good team is much easier to play, easier to go to the rink.
"It's been good for me this year and hopefully I can stay here for a long time."
Ribeiro earned US$1.9 million this season and becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
He has comes to terms with the trade and sounds happy in Dallas. Now that he's in a different conference, Ribeiro probably will even cheer for the Canadiens again.
"It's the first time in my life I was happy they didn't make the playoffs," he said. "I'm sure next year I will be happy for them if they make the playoffs."