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Segal adjusting to life with new team

by John Tranchina / Dallas Stars

His acquisition didn’t come with much fanfare, but when the Dallas Stars claimed right winger Brandon Segal off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings just before the Olympic break, they added a valuable foot soldier who brings a lot of energy and fits nicely into their stable of versatile forwards.

He has scored two goals and added two assists in three games since the move, but his contributions are more likely to be measured in hits, hard grunt work along the boards and providing more of a physical presence. 

“I’m kind of a power forward,” agreed the 6-foot-2, 209-pound native of Richmond, British Columbia. “I’m going to go in the corners and make the big hits and try to protect the puck in the corners, try to find my linemates and try to get pucks to the net as much as possible.”

“He’s a guy that’s going to add depth to our lineup,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said.  “He’s a right shot, he’s a big body, he’s good on the wall, he gets pucks out. You want him to be a guy that goes hard to the net, plays physical, finishes his checks, gives us a little bit more physicality.  His first game, he showed that.  (Tuesday) he wasn’t quite as good, but I thought their line, especially in the third period, was the one that brought us the most energy.”

In the Stars’ 5-1 loss to the Kings Tuesday night, Segal skated alongside Toby Petersen and veteran Mike Modano most of the night, registering a shot on goal, but also managing to deliver four hits in just 6:28 of ice time.  He admitted it was an odd experience facing his former team so soon after leaving them.

“It definitely was, especially when just two weeks ago I was with them for so long and in a matter of a couple of days, you’re with a different team, a different organization,” noted the 26-year-old Segal, who notched a goal and assist in 25 games with LA earlier this year.  “Obviously, it’s going to take some adjustments and getting used to, but it was definitely weird playing against the guys you’ve been battling with most of the year.”

And for Segal, those games were memorable because this is the first time he’s spent a full year in the NHL.  He had played five full years in the minors, getting into just two games with Tampa Bay last season, before signing as a free agent with the Kings last summer.  So while he was clearly disappointed to leave LA, he’s very happy to still be in the NHL. 

“You just keep on going, I had the ‘no quit’ attitude, I knew that eventually my time was going to come,” Segal said of his time in the minors, including a 26-goal, 52-point performance in 69 games for AHL Norfolk last season that led to an appearance in the 2009 AHL All-Star Game.  “Last year was a great year for me, I got a couple of games with Tampa, and obviously this year, with LA most of the year, and now with Dallas.  Onwards and upwards for me, I've just got to keep on going.”

While players change teams in mid-season all the time in today’s sports world, many fans tend to gloss over what they endure in the process.  Each player has a significant task adapting to a completely new environment, learning new systems and game plans and getting familiar with new teammates and coaches.  It’s not as easy as just lacing ‘em up and stepping on the ice.

“For anyone, it’s obviously an adjustment when you’re going to a new team,” acknowledged Segal, who was originally selected in the fourth round (102nd overall) by Nashville in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. “You have new players to play with, new staff, just trying to get used to everything.  Obviously, I’m trying to fit in as best as possible in as quick amount of time, and just taking it day by day.”

“It’s only been a few games, but the things I see now, obviously he brings a lot of energy, he’s a physical player, he’s got a very heavy shot,” said Petersen of his new teammate.  “Obviously, we’re trying to get used to each other out there, spend some time in practice, build some chemistry and see where it takes us.”

Adjusting off the ice brings a different set of logistical challenges, as the player has to quickly pack his things and re-locate to a new city, meeting a whole bunch of new people all at once, and at the same time feeling the pressure to perform and prove the team made the right move acquiring him.

“Obviously, there’s a lot that goes with it, there’s packing up and moving and all that,” Segal said, “but you just try to put that stuff aside and be professional and make sure you’re ready to go every night.  Obviously, I’m new in the city, I got here 10 days ago and every day I’m busy, just trying to get things done, just trying to maintain my focus.”

“Just communicate as much as you can, on the ice and off the ice,” Petersen said of ways Stars players can help ease the transition for new arrivals like Segal.  “Make sure we’re all on the same page as far as systems go, but still help him out with stuff around the city, getting to the rink and things like that.” 

As he continues his initial NHL season, Segal is already focusing on the difficult playoff race ahead.  Segal is determined to help his new squad get back to the success they were enjoying when he joined them, when Dallas went 3-0-1 in its last four games before the Olympics and 9-4-1 in the 14 heading into the break.

“Obviously, if you look at the score (Tuesday), it was kind of a nuisance to have that break,” Segal said.  “In regards to how we were playing before, that break kind of took our momentum away, but we just got to go back to practice and regroup and come back ready to go.”

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