DALLAS -- Tyler Seguin bounced from court to court, weaving in and out of about 75 students at the St. Philip's School and Community Center gymnasium after school last week.
The Stars center was helping run a ball hockey exposition, introducing the sport to a new group of students, but also helping to build bridges in the Dallas community as part of his "Seguin's Stars" initiative.
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Seguin is partnering with the Stars Foundation, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, and the Dallas Police Hockey Foundation to help bring the sport of hockey to St. Philip's and to help better the relationship between police and citizens through the new "Badges on the Blue Line" program. It's one of the many things Seguin has done in recent years, and one that he's excited about starting.
"This just fits for me," Seguin said after the workout. "We came here before and the team has a relationship with this school, so it makes sense. I definitely think that it's important that we can see the police and understand that we're all on the same side. I think we need to really help to make sure there is respect on both sides."
The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation has been building bridges between police and citizens in communities for years with the sport of baseball and is using their formula for the first time in hockey. Tim Bancells, senior program coordinator for the Ripken Foundation was among a handful of representatives on hand at St. Philip's and said he's excited to branch out.
Video: Seguin helps introduce hockey to Dallas community
"It takes local law enforcement and partners them as positive mentors for the kids," Bancells said of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, which has been used in 48 states and has helped more than 1.5 million children already. "It's breaking down those barriers. I think sometimes kids see a police officer and think someone is in trouble, so we want to kind of flip that perception and have these police officers come and play with the kids and interact with the kids."
The Dallas Police Hockey Foundation had several members of their team on hand, and were also bouncing and weaving among the students along with Seguin and member of the Stars Xtreme Team, who ran hockey drills and hockey games on three different courts. Along with former Stars players Marty Turco, Bob Bassen, Brad Lukowich and Terry Ruskowski, the police officers helped teach and play in the games.
"We were breaking a sweat and having fun, so this is a blast," said Sgt. Brian Simonds, who is president of the Dallas Police Hockey Foundation and captain of the team. "This is huge for us. Our organization has wanted to be more community oriented, and this is a great opportunity to do that."
Simonds said the police now have two teams and have invited players from the Garland and Mesquite police departments, as well. He said that playing the game is a great way for the officers to bond, but that developing a relationship with the community by playing hockey makes this initiative that much better.
"Seeing the kids here, I know all of us had a blast seeing them smile and learn about hockey," Simonds said. "A lot of us grew up up north, so hockey is more prevalent to us. To bring that sport to Dallas to a group of kids who maybe don't have much experience with hockey, that's great.
"We love the game, and we want to share that."
Seguin has been using the sport for good since he arrived in Dallas in 2013. He has partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Collin County and with Big Brothers Big Sisters. He said working with kids has always been fun for him.
"Any time I get with kids, I go back to when I was a kid playing ball hockey or just having fun. Those are special memories to me," he said, adding that he has also been doing off-ice promotion for the Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl and has been reminded of playing outside as a youth in the Toronto area.
"I went to the Cotton Bowl today and that's been bringing back my youth as well," Seguin said. "The whole day has been about looking back and remembering things, and that's important."
The Stars got off to a slow start and Seguin is lagging behind his typical point-a-game pace with six points in the first 13 games, and that can create worry for an athlete. But Seguin said getting grounded by activities like the one at St. Philip's is therapeutic.
"I was in the middle of all of this about a half hour ago, and I literally stopped and thought to myself, 'Man, this game is fun,'" he said. "Sometimes, you need to do that, so days like this are good for me no matter what is going on. You go through 11 games in 19 days and you have the start you have, and you have to remind yourself to have fun.
"I think that's a good thing."
It's also important to understand that sports can be bigger than just games, and that having a job like this opens the door to do things that can have a positive impact beyond just wins and losses.
"It's a hot topic, it has been for a while and it probably will be going forward, so you want to try to make a difference," Seguin said of the relationship between police and citizens.
"I do think it makes a difference if you go out and have fun together. I think we can take steps in the right direction every day, and I'd like to be a part of that."
Photos by Tim Heitman/Dallas Stars
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.