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New Stars bring winning pedigree

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars introduced Patrick Sharp at a news conference Monday afternoon, but the veteran forward needed no introduction to his new teammates.

“He’s a great guy, well respected. He’s a great two-way player. He is going to be a good leader for his team. He’s great in the room,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I think the biggest thing is that he is a winner, and that’s what we want to surround ourselves with – these winners and I think they can help us out.”

“He’s dynamic offensively. I’ve never really liked playing against him,” said Stars defenseman Jason Demers. “I’ve always kind of got that he plays hard, he’s not afraid to mix it up either, so it’s nice when you have that kind of a scorer and an offensive player that has a little bit of an edge and chip on his shoulder, so that’s something good to have. He’s a great player. He’s going to help us immediately, I’m sure of it.”

The Stars acquired Sharp and defenseman Stephen Johns from Chicago on July 10 in exchange for defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt.

“I’m very excited to be in Dallas, excited to be wearing the jersey,” Sharp said. “I know from playing against them in the Central Division, they’re very difficult to play against and they’re a team that is improving in a lot of different areas, so for me to come down here and be a part of that in any way, I’m very excited.”

The 33-year-old Sharp’s resumé speaks for itself. He won three Stanley Cups with Chicago in the past six seasons. He’s scored 249 goals in 745 regular season NHL games. He’s tallied another 43 goals in 129 playoff games.

“We knew we had a young core coming along, but the one missing piece we knew was going to be how do you find these experienced guys that have won Cups, who do things right?” Stars GM Jim Nill said. “When you win Stanley Cups, you do things right on the ice, you do things right off the ice and you do things right in the community. It’s hard to find those type of players. We’re very fortunate this summer to be able to make a trade with Chicago to obtain Patrick, and we think that he’s going to be a great addition for us.”

Sharp is one of three acquisitions this offseason for the Stars who have won Stanley Cups. Defenseman Johnny Oduya, who was signed as a free agent last week, won two with Chicago. Goaltender Antti Niemi, acquired via trade from San Jose at last month’s NHL draft, won one with Chicago in 2010. That’s valuable experience for a Stars team that features a lot of youth.

“They’ve been through it all,” said Benn. “Through the ups and downs of the year I think we can lean on those guys a little more. Sharpie was a big part of that leadership group in Chicago, and I think it can only help us as young players.”

“It’s huge. They have the confidence because they went through it,” said Stars forward Ales Hemsky. “There are a lot of ups and downs during the season, but they know how to deal with it and how to help the other players get over those downs. It will be really helpful.”

The moves to land Sharp, Oduya and Niemi made it a third straight big offseason for Nill. He acquired Tyler Seguin in a blockbuster deal with Boston in 2013 and then traded for Jason Spezza and signed Ales Hemsky as a free agent last summer.

“Well, it’s exciting. It’s a great feeling when you see how hard Jim’s working and what he’s bringing to our team and how out of nowhere, no one really sees it coming, but he gets such high-end pieces to add to our organization,” Seguin said. “It’s pretty incredible and it makes you only want to work harder for him and my teammates to just be the best player I can be. If I wasn’t excited already for camp and the season, I’m even more now.”

“It’s exciting,” said Benn. “Any chance you get to bring in players like Sharp, Oduya and Niemi, it is going to help your team. The expectations are high but it is on us players to handle those expectations and win some hockey games.”

Quotable: Patrick Sharp on defenseman Johnny Oduya

Here’s Stars forward Patrick Sharp talking about defenseman Johnny Oduya, his teammate in Chicago the past three-plus seasons.

Johnny Oduya is a guy that takes incredible care of his body. He’s always in great shape. He’s always trying to get better. He’s great on the defensive side of the puck. When he joined our team from the trade from Winnipeg, he really fit in well with the way our team was playing, up-tempo style of play. He was making the first pass, killing a lot of plays defensively for us. Look at the teammates I have now in Dallas, it’s a similar makeup, so I have no question that Johnny’s going to fit in well. On top of things, he’s a great guy off the ice, and he’s going to be a lot of fun in the locker room as well.”

Quotable: Jason Demers on Antti Niemi

Here’s Stars defenseman Jason Demers talking about goaltender Antti Niemi, whom he played with in San Jose.

“I love playing with him; he’s a great goalie. He works harder than most players I’ve ever seen before, both on and off the ice. He loves the game still. I’m sure it’s going to be a great duo with him and Kari [Lehtonen] together. They’ll push each other and share the workload, or however they are going to use them. But Antti can only help us.”

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.

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