Stars forward Loui Eriksson arrived back in town looking well-rested and sporting a nice tan, after what he described as an “ideal summer” in Sweden.
“The thing you do is take it easy and spend time with your family,” he said.
Eriksson spent part of the summer working out in preparation for the new season. Now, he is back in Frisco and the workouts continue, both off the ice and on it. He’s among a small group of Stars who have started to show up in town, including a couple of new Dallas Stars in Ray Whitney and Derek Roy.
It’s been a season of big change for the Stars, who also added Jaromir Jagr, Aaron Rome and Cody Eakin.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Eriksson said. “We’ve got two older guys – Jagr and Whitney – coming in, plus Roy and the other guys. It looks good and it’s going to be fun.”
When the Stars signed Jagr, Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said he envisioned a line with Jamie Benn at center and Eriksson and Jagr on the wings. Eriksson said he wouldn’t mind that line combination.
“I’ve played with Benn before, but Jagr is a totally different person to play with. It would be awesome to play with a player like Jagr,” Eriksson said. “He can teach me a lot. He’s played in the NHL a long time and everyone knows how good he is. It’s going to be fun to see how he is in practice and then play with him in games.”
And’s he’s excited about the additions of Whitney and Roy, who also will be a boost to the Stars set of top six forwards.
“Whitney had really good season last year. He can bring some routine and he can really help the younger guys,” Eriksson said. “Roy is a really good player and a fast skater. He’s a skill guy and when he’s playing at his best level, he’s a really good player.”
Eriksson also saw two longtime teammates – Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro – depart the team via trade.
“They’ve been here since I got here. It’s sad to see them leaving, but that’s the way it is in hockey,” he said. “We want to wish them good luck. They are really great guys.”
Those departures have left Eriksson among the longest tenured Stars. Only Brenden Morrow, Trevor Daley and Stephane Robidas have been with the team longer than Eriksson, who turned 27 last month.
“I’ve been here for a while now, and of course, it’s fun to be here,” he said. “I am going to try to help the younger guys coming up here. I am going to try to help them as much as I can.”
Eriksson’s role as a leader on the team has been growing in recent years and that process will continue this season as the Stars are expected to bring in some youth to complement the veteran additions. Eriksson, who has topped 70 points in each of the last three seasons, said he is more of a lead-by-example type, but added that he’d like to be a little more vocal when offering guidance to the younger players.
"It’s more showing them, and ‘see how I play,’” he said. “That’s how I am as a person, too. But I am going to try to be better at talking to them.”
Eriksson has taken on a bigger role for Sweden at the international level as well, suiting up for the Swedes at the Olympics in 2010 and the World Championship in 2009, 2011 and again in 2012.
In the 2012 tournament, which was held in May in Stockholm and Helsinki, Eriksson registered 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) in eight games while playing on a line with Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen.
“It was a good line and we played well together,” said Eriksson. “Zetterberg is a smart centerman, and you see that when we play against Detroit. It’s the same with Franzen. It was fun to see how they play instead of playing against them.”
That line was among the most productive at the World Championship but the Swedes failed to medal, losing 4-3 to Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. Despite Sweden getting knocked out in the first game of the playoff round, Eriksson still tied for third in goal scoring at the tournament and ranked fourth in points.
“It was fun and it’s always a different experience to go and play those games,” he said. “It’s too bad we didn’t go that far. I thought we had a really good team. It’s a bad feeling when you lose in the quarterfinals like that, but I got to know a lot of the guys and it was a fun experience.”
The World Championship provided a playoff-type atmosphere, something that Eriksson and the Stars are hoping to get back to this season after missing the NHL postseason these last four seasons.
“I want to go there and play those games. It’s fun to play in those games and it’s hard,” said Eriksson. “The team is looking forward to taking that step now. We’ve been really close the last few years. Everyone wants to make that, and we are going to do all we can to do it.”