It was business as usual for Stars center Mike Ribeiro
last season. For the second time in three years, the Montreal native played in all 82 games and delivered solid offensive production (19-52-71). The 31-year-old center man led the club in assists with 52 and his 71 points were third on the Stars, behind only Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson
, both of whom skated in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.
Once the regular season ended in mid-April, most of his teammates scattered to points hither and yon. But Ribeiro did not. Instead, he remained in the area for much of the summer, often working out on his own at the team’s Frisco headquarters by himself. However, he didn’t spend the whole summer at Dr Pepper Arena. He managed to work in some R&R with his family.
“We have a lake house in east Texas, so we stayed here [for much of the summer],” he said. “We like it here. It’s hot. Went back home for about a week or two, traveled once here and once there. [I also] stayed here to worked out. I came here, worked out with JJ [McQueen] and Joey much of the time. The lake house is the most fun thing. You get away from everything.”
Being on the lake doesn’t mean he can partake in every normal activity associated with the summer months. Certain things, like water skiing are forbidden in his contract.
“I’m the driver [of the boat],” Ribeiro said. “I fish off the dock. I did some body surfing. That’s not too hard.”
Skating in all 82 games is nothing new for this veteran center, but even he admits that he was a bit more spent than usual at the end of last season.
“Yeah, it took me probably longer this summer to jump back in it. In years past, I usually took a month before starting to move. This year, it was a little bit longer,” Ribeiro said. “During those months, I’ll play tennis or basketball to stay active. I won’t play every day. A lot of guys play tennis and I don’t see a difference between tennis and basketball.”
And once he got his off-season program underway, he kept it simple.
“I don’t do too much work on my upper body because I don’t need to be too big up there since I’m not a guy who gets hit a lot. More my legs to get quick feet here, get my cardio good and that’s it. It’s been harder for me to get heavier, so the only thing I’m focusing on more is trying to get stronger,” he said. “If I do that, have a stronger lower body, then I’ll be more solid on the ice and play better.”
But before he hit the gym, he stayed active by playing tennis, often with one of his current Dallas teammates.
“A lot of times, I played against Trevor [Daley],” Ribeiro said. “He’s taking lessons. I don’t. I just show up but I’m still 2-0 against him. He hasn’t beaten me yet and he takes lessons and spends money on it. I show up and beat him. I told him we should play with a basketball and maybe then he’d beat me.”
This fall marks his sixth season in Dallas. Stars captain Brenden Morrow
has been a teammate of his for those first five years and he’s noticed a definite progression in his teammate.
“The last few years, he’s matured a lot as a professional. He’s kind of taken on a leadership role with this team. I think he likes that responsibility,” Morrow said. “He’s done all the right things in the off-season to prepare. Where maybe that was something he lacked in his younger years, he’s been dedicated to preparing for the season and just being an all-around good professional.”
And with the off-season departure of Richards to the Rangers via free agency, the Dallas center is one player who will be looked upon to provide more offense. That’s a challenge he clearly welcomes.
“Obviously, I’m going to try to create the same. We might be more team-oriented and focus on winning more as a team than on winning with just one line or two lines,” Ribeiro said. “We don’t have the superstars like other teams have. It’s going to be more collective, trying to shut down all three lines. We brought guys in who can do that. Ideally, I’d like to produce as much as I can, help the team win and finish with 80-something points. I try to do better than the year before. I think our team is probably going to play more than three lines. We’re probably going to be a four-line team.”
Ribeiro already leads the Stars in points with five on the young season. His teammates know he’s up to the challenge.
“I think with more responsibility, he’s always met the challenge, succeeded and beaten everyone’s expectations,” Morrow said. “With Brad [Richards] not being here and a lot more needed from Ribs, he’ll be in key situations a lot more. He always seems to thrive in those positions.”
Another big plus for Ribeiro this season is that two more familiar faces, forward Michael Ryder
and defenseman Sheldon Souray
, both of whom he knows from his days in Montreal where the three were teammates, have joined the Stars this off-season.
“I think we all had a good year when we played together. Those were our best years back home, the last year we played together. It’s nice to be back together now,” he said. “I will start the season with Ryder [on the same line]. We played on the same line before. It’s nice to play with those guys again. It’s going to be fun. They’re both great guys and fun to be around, especially Ryder. I think he dropped the Cup. It’s fun to see those guys back and talk about old times.”
But one thing he’d rather not repeat from last season is going the first 16 games of the year without a goal.
“No, probably not, I don’t think it’s a good idea but I came out of it pretty good. But it was harder for me to get back, so I’ll try to not get those lumps,” Ribeiro said. “One time, I went 30 games without scoring. Last year it was at the start of the season, which made it harder to take. I’ll make sure it won’t happen again this year.”