Ask Stars forward Antoine Roussel about his offseason and he might tell you it went by fast. That’s no surprise because it has been an eventful one.
Roussel and his longtime girlfriend, Alexandra, got married this summer.
“We’ve been together a long time,” Roussel said. “It’s perfect for me. It was time.”
And Antoine and Alexandra have been busy this summer preparing for their first child. It’s a boy, and he is due in about one month.
“A lot of stuff this year. Big stuff,” he said. “Very exciting. The [baby’s] room is all done. It’s just a matter of time now.”
Roussel is back in Dallas after spending time in Montreal and France this summer. Thursday he was at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney helping out at a Dallas Stars summer hockey camp. There were 60 kids on the ice and Roussel seemed to be having as much fun as they were.
“It’s different than the camp I used to go to,” Roussel said. “There was music on and different stations, some you practice things you don’t do in hockey. For me, that was so much fun.”
One of the stations was more like soccer on ice and Roussel spent a lot of time there.
“That was great. I had tons of fun,” Roussel said.
After working with the kids for more than an hour on the ice, Roussel signed autographs and gave his stick away to a young girl.
Following the autograph session, he talked about the Stars’ upcoming season.
“I think we have huge expectations after last year,” he said.
The team underwent some changes in the offseason. The big acquisition this summer was defenseman Dan Hamhuis, signed to a two-year, $7.5 million contract in free agency.
“He’s the guy I am most excited about. I think he is going to be great,” Roussel said. “There were rumors we were trading for him before the playoffs, and I was pretty excited about that. I’ve heard from guys that have played with him that he’s a good player. He’s a guy that does it all and I am excited to have a guy like him on our team.”
The Stars parted ways with defensemen Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers and Kris Russell and forwards Vernon Fiddler, Colton Sceviour and Travis Moen. The team is expected to turn to younger players to help fill the void. Brett Ritchie and Curtis McKenzie are in the mix at the forward spot, and Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak and Esa Lindell are among the options on defense.
“It’s always tough to see some of your friends leaving the team and over the past years I’ve seen a lot of good friends leaving,” Roussel said. “We’ve got some guys coming in, and they are guys we’ve been around for so long now. Ritchie and Mac, they’ve been on the team the past two years here and there. We’re going to be a good team again, fast and a little bigger. I can’t wait to see how it is going to go.”
Roussel found some good chemistry on a line with center Radek Faksa and right wing Ales Hemsky down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, and he hopes that line can build on that in 2016-17.
“I really hope we are going to start together,” Roussel said. “I think it is a great combination of skill, power, and aggressiveness. I like to play with those two guys. It is fun, but I will play anywhere they want me to play.”
Roussel was disappointed with how last season ended, the Stars just one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals. But he saw the season as a big step forward with the Stars putting together a strong regular season and then winning their first-round playoff series against Minnesota, the franchise’s first playoff series win since 2008.
“It’s always a step forward when you go farther down the path,” he said. “It’s something we haven’t experienced much, winning in the playoffs, how we play and dealing with the emotions. It’s going to make us better.”
The plan now for Roussel is to prepare for the upcoming season and, of course, await the arrival of his first child.
“Can’t wait,” he said. “It’s going to be fun. Very excited.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.