Monday was a big day for Mike Ribeiro
and the Dallas Stars. The team announced that the Stars center was signed to a new five-year, $25 million contract extension, keeping him under contract through the 2012-13 season.
Ribeiro spoke on Tuesday on what it means to him. ( 700K
“It means a lot, I’ve been working all my life for this,” he said. “Most important though is that I am staying in Dallas. That was my goal all along – to sign here and not wait until the summer. My family and I have made a home here and we love it.”
The Stars talked with Ribeiro’s agent, Don Meehan, for a few weeks about the new contract, and finally put it to bed this past week.
“We initiated (the talks) when we were in New Jersey and it was an easy process,” said Star Co-General Manager Les Jackson. “His agent made it clear that Mike’s first choice was Dallas and when you start off a negotiation with both sides wanting the same result, it is much simpler. You always go through a negotiation on the numbers. Don Meehan was great to deal with; he is one of the classiest guys in the business. So that gave us a nice fit.”
Ribeiro is only 27 and could have been an unrestricted free agent this coming summer after signing a one-year, $2.8 million contract in July. The Stars made a decision to make an investment in him and, as the saying goes, ‘Got ‘er done.’
“When you’re paying that kind of money you want that term,” said Jackson. “We’re making an investment here. We told him we were open to whatever he wanted to talk about. He initiated that he wanted term and we also wanted it if we were going to pay this kind of money to him. It was easy right from the start.
“We’re signing a 27-year-old player and that makes it easier. He is talented, he wants to be here and he makes our team better. At the end of the day it was a slam-dunk deal and it was just a matter of working out the dollars and the term. That’s always delicate because you have a responsibility to the cap and to the other players on the team. One player can’t take up all of the money and all of the term. You have other guys to worry about. I think it’s a fair contract.”
Ribeiro came into his own in the second half of last season after being traded to Dallas right at the end of training camp. It took some time for him to become acclimated to a new city and teammates but once he did, things started to click.
“Last year I had a good year but I came into this year more comfortable with the guys and the coaches had a better idea of what I could do,” said Ribeiro. “Brett and Les have been great to me and I have to thank Doug Armstrong for making the trade to get me to Dallas. I am thankful for what he did in how he believed in me. Like I said, I love it here and am very happy to sign this contract to stay here.”
Head Coach Dave Tippett surely doesn’t mind. The signing helps ensure that an important top-six forward will be part of the roster for years to come.
“I think it’s a good move by the organization,” said Tippett. “He’s a player that has done very well. He wants to stay in Dallas and he is an excellent player. It’s a good marriage together. Guys like Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen have carried the offense for this organization for the last few years and now we’ve got some guys like Ribeiro and (Brenden) Morrow who are helping in that respect. Having top forwards like that makes the organization stronger.”
Ribeiro and Morrow have played well together on the same line over the last six weeks or so. Both players are now under contract with the Stars for several years and hopefully the chemistry will continue.
“He makes my life easier,” said Ribeiro. “I’m going to have the chance to play with Brenden over the next few years and that is exciting. He’s a big part of what just happened to me too. He’s a complete player and I am looking forward to playing with him a lot more.”
Ribeiro and the Stars are now focused on a five-game road trip that takes them to Chicago and St. Louis for an important back-to-back series before going West to play the Kings, Ducks and Sharks.
“We’ve been playing good on the road,” said Ribeiro. “The back-to-back games in Chicago and St. Louis are important. Last night’s win was big to get us back in the win column and back on track. It’s going to be important to get off to a good start in Chicago and go from there. It’s important to win. We got in a little slump there after Christmas. To get that win last night was big and now we have a big road trip. It’s going to be a tough one but we want to try to get some wins on it.”
Its all part of the Stars’ main goals – finish the season strong and challenge for the division.
“It’s not going to be an easy road,” said Ribeiro. “All of the teams are good. We want to finish first in our division and that can do a lot for you with confidence and obviously seeding. The last few years this team has had a good regular season but lost in the first round and we don’t want to do that again. We are focused on finishing the season strong and heading into the playoffs with confidence.”