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'Let's get to work': Stars enter camp with plenty to sort out

Montgomery and his staff know there is much to be accomplished before Dallas' season opener next month

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

Back in the day, the Stars used to spend a week in Vail, Colorado for training camp to get away and bond as a team.

In more recent years, they tried the same approach in Cedar Park or Fort Worth or Boise, Idaho.

But with the NHL's tightening schedule limiting "camp" to three days for some time now, the Stars this season will operate out of their Frisco training camp base at Comerica Center and get right down to the business of preparing for the 2019-20 season. The team on Wednesday announced a schedule that will have three sessions per day in Frisco starting Friday, Sept. 13 for a group of 63 players that will lead to the preseason opener Monday Sept. 16 at American Airlines Center against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues.

"I think it's good," said second-year Stars head coach Jim Montgomery, who will skip the prospects tournament in Traverse City this week to get ready for camp. "I like the focus of 'Let's get to work.' I'm ready to go."


[COMPLETE COVERAGE: Full roster, schedule | Training Camp Central]


Montgomery and his new coaching staff -- which includes good friend John Stevens, who was added over the summer -- has already been hard at work getting ready. They know that there is much to be accomplished in a short amount of time before the season opener Oct. 3 against Boston, and they want to make the most of the seven preseason games that are packed into 12 days.

"I definitely think we can hit the ground running, more so than last year," Montgomery said. "I didn't know anyone last year. Now, I know most of the players and have coached most of the players. I think we can get to work immediately on establishing our work ethic and our identity, and we can stick with it."

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The Stars last season played their best hockey at the end of the season and into the playoffs, and Montgomery believes they have the ability to be more consistent from the start of the season this year. Montgomery said the identity of the team is "relentless" and he will not allow them to stray from that identity.

"I think we'll have a lot more pace right from the start," he said. "We want to be the hardest working team in the NHL, and that will start right from the start. We'll add layers, and we'll teach as we go, but we want players moving fast and reacting and playing at a high pace."

In doing so, Montgomery will also have to make some roster decisions. General manager Jim Nill has added several free agents, including veterans Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry and Andrej Sekera. He also is giving chances to free agents like defenseman Emil Djuse and forward Joel Kiviranta, who are on two-way contracts, as well as forwards Scottie Upshall and Stefan Noesen, who are on professional tryout contracts.

Add those to the mix of young, hungry forwards who are getting a head start in Traverse City -- including Kiviranta, Jason Robertson, Tye Felhaber and Ty Dellandrea -- and the battle for one of the possible three extra forward spots that haven't been spoken for (11 are under one-way contracts right now), and you should have some really good competition.

"It ups the skill level in the camp," Nill said when asked about the PTOs. "It's an opportunity for them, and it's an opportunity for us, and it's an opportunity for the whole league. We are watching other teams, too. There are other guys on PTOs out there that we are watching … right now, everybody loves what they've done, they love their team. All of a sudden you get to camp, you get three, four, five injuries -- it happened to us last year and three years ago -- things change quick, and now you are looking for players. So you can never have enough depth and enough players."

Noesen will get special attention. The 26-year-old forward was born and raised in Plano, and was a first round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2011 (21st overall). He played the past three seasons with the New Jersey Devils, who allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and now is looking for a new contract.

Noesen put up solid numbers in 2017-18, tallying 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 72 games with the Devils, and earned a one-year deal at $1.725 million. However, he battled injuries last season and played just 41 games, and that's one of the reasons the Devils didn't re-sign him.

"He's been an NHL regular player, but he's had some injury troubles," Nill said. "You get to a certain age in your career, where you've got to take that final step, and that's where he's at. He's a local player, so it's nice to give him an opportunity."

Noesen has already been skating in Frisco, not far from where he grew up in Plano. Nill said he liked the fact that local players continue to set good examples for younger players coming up through the ranks.

"It's important, it's important for our game," Nill said. "It grows our sport down here where it's important for our game to keep growing. And I think it's a great opportunity for young men and young women (to see)."

And they will see it right here in Frisco.

"It's a great set-up for us," Montgomery said. "We have a lot of work to do, and we're ready to get going."


If you go

What: 2019-20 Dallas Stars training camp

When: Sept. 13-15

Where: Comerica Center, Frisco

Admission and parking: Free

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 and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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