Just days before starting his first training camp with the Dallas Stars, Tyler Seguin sat aboard a Dallas-bound flight and tried something for the first time in more than a year.
He put on the Stanley Cup ring he won with the Boston Bruins in 2011.
Maybe it was boredom that compelled him to slip the championship ring onto his finger, maybe it was nostalgia. Either way, it brought back vivid memories just days before starting a new chapter in his career.
"I was bringing it to Dallas. I wouldn't put it in my luggage, so I just travelled with it," Seguin told NHL.com. "I took it out for the first time. It just gives you that feeling … it's almost like you put on something and you flash back to everything, how great it felt."
In three seasons in Boston, the second pick of the 2010 NHL Draft enjoyed enough memories, good and bad, to fill a 20-year career. There was the Cup win in his rookie season, an All-Star Game appearance in his second, and then another appearance in the Stanley Cup Final in 2012-13. While making the Final was a solid accomplishment for the team, it was an inconsistent season for Seguin, who played everywhere from the first line to the fourth line.
Then he got traded.
That's what the text messages said -- all 106 of them.
Seguin was on a beach with friends when news of the trade to the Stars first broke. Unable to get proper reception on his phone, it wasn't until he drove further into town that he saw the barrage of texts.
"One of my best friends didn't talk to me for literally five hours," Seguin said. "Wouldn't say a word to me. Everyone was instantly sad."
Just like that, Seguin was on his way to Dallas, where he will be living in an apartment previously owned by former Star Derek Roy. He recently discovered that potential linemate and fellow All-Star Jamie Benn just moved into the building.
Whereas the Bruins were a picture of consistency during his time there, Seguin now joins a Stars team that turned over its ownership, front office, coaching staff, roster, uniforms and logo during an 18-month span. In the wake of that wholesale makeover, Seguin has emerged as the key piece. It's an opportunity he's looking forward to.
"I've experienced a lot, but I'm hoping I still experience a lot more," he said. "I think Dallas is a fresh new start. Something guys just need sometimes. I definitely want that and I look forward to it. It's a very exciting time. [Dallas] is actually a lot different from anything I've seen. I really like it. I was expecting a lot more cowboy hats; I didn't see too many of those. I've got my boots packed in the suitcase ready to go."
It certainly will be a change of pace for Seguin, who quickly became an icon among Boston's diehard sports fans. It was a unique lifestyle for someone so young. And that place in Boston's tight-knit sports community is something Seguin admits he will miss.
"In Boston I was the only single guy on the team, so I would be hanging out with a couple of guys from the [New England] Patriots," he said. "I'll miss things like that. But I made friends that I'll keep for the rest of my life. Everyone was together. You went to charity events and were always together. Anywhere you'd go you would know someone. You go out to dinner, you know someone, that's just how it is."
But that kind of visibility didn't endear Seguin to everyone in Boston. During his time with the Bruins, especially around the time of his trade, much attention was paid to how he spent his time away from the rink.
"I think it [being single] makes your microscope even bigger on you," he said. "It's a little unfair. I heard some of the rumors and stuff like that and … I didn't think it was fair what people were saying. Everyone's going to have their own opinion. Dallas is a new city. People won't be saying I'm hanging with the wrong crowd because there are a couple of single guys on the team. It just makes life easier."
Seguin's journey in Dallas should benefit from the presence of Stars advisor to hockey operations Mark Recchi, who played with Seguin during the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run. At that time, Seguin was 19 and thought Recchi, at age 43, "didn't look like a hockey player."
There's also the Stars' executive advisor and alternate governor, Mike Modano, Dallas' longtime franchise player who Seguin idolized as a child.
"I've been talking to [Recchi] a ton, especially since the trade," Seguin said. "They [Recchi and Modano] want to meet up when we're in Dallas and go over things. They're just there to help. They're just good guys and they want to see Dallas win."
Dallas' quest to return to the postseason for the first time since 2008 likely will begin and end with Seguin. Hailed as a franchise player from the moment he entered the League, he may be getting his best shot yet to fulfill that promise. And he'll be bringing plenty of lessons learned during three seasons in Boston with him.
"I want to be a little more vocal in Dallas than I was in Boston," Seguin said. "This is going to be a challenge; there's going to be some growing pains. I'm looking forward to overcoming that as a team. First and foremost I'm just looking forward to earning the respect of my teammates and getting to know them and going from there."
Author: Tal Pinchevsky | NHL.com Staff Writer