Tyler Seguin hit the ice in Richardson Saturday, skated up to a young hockey player wearing a Dallas Stars Seguin jersey, gave him a little tap with his stick and received a wide-eyed look in return. A little later, another young player wanted to know if Seguin was really Seguin.
"Yeah," Seguin said.
"I knew it," the kid responded.
Seguin dropped in to surprise players with the Dallas Stars Hockey Academy at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Richardson. He was on the ice through two Saturday morning sessions of players, posed for some pictures and signed autographs.
"It's actually kind of a workout," Seguin said. "We're flying around for two hours, so yeah, it's fun."
And it brought back memories.
"Definitely," Seguin said. "I think growing up as a kid, especially in Canada and Toronto, there's quite a bit of appearances where you can see NHL players or even OHL players as a young kid and you get pretty excited, so to be that guy obviously makes it fun for me as well."
In less than a month, Seguin will hit the ice in Ottawa with other top players from Canada to open training camp for the World Cup of Hockey. Seguin is good to go for the tournament after being sidelined late last season, missing the final ten regular season games and the playoff opener against Minnesota with a cut to his Achilles tendon. He returned for one playoff game but then missed the rest of the postseason with a tear to a calf muscle.
"Doing well. It's been a short but long summer, bit of a different summer as far as training just coming off an injury," Seguin said. "But feeling great and looking forward to the World Cup."
Seguin is one of five Dallas players selected to play in the World Cup, which will be held in Toronto beginning Sept. 17. Forwards Radek Faksa and Ales Hemsky will play for Czech Republic, and defenseman Esa Lindell is on the Finnish roster. And Stars captain Jamie Benn will join Seguin on Team Canada as long as Benn is healthy following last month's surgery to a core muscle injury. Seguin is looking forward to playing with Benn on the international stage.
"Being selected for this stuff is always obviously an honor and cool to go yourself, but to share that with a teammate is something pretty special," Seguin said. "Even something like the All-Star Game last year, going with him for the first time, it's just something special you can share and go through the event with each other. I'm sure the World Cup's going to be pretty great."
Seguin's kept in touch with Benn over the summer and talked to the Dallas captain after he received his eight-year, $76 million contract extension last month.
"Just said congrats and save some for the rest of us," Seguin said with a smile. "I think he's deserved everything. I think he's a great leader, a great teammate and obviously a great linemate, so I was definitely excited for him."
When Seguin plays at the World Cup, it will be the second time in 16 months that he has suited up for Canada. He was a big part of the Canadian team that won a gold medal at the 2015 World Championship in Czech Republic, and that's some good experience he can take into this year's tournament.
"Yeah, 100 percent," Seguin said. "I didn't know what to expect in that type of event."
And the World Cup will present another new experience. It's an eight-team tournament that will be played before the NHL season, instead of during the NHL playoffs like the World Championship. Along with Canada, there are teams from the United States, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czech Republic. Plus, there is a team of top young players 23-and-under from the USA and Canada and a team of players from European countries other than Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czech Republic.
"With the teams and players going [to the World Cup], I don't know if many people know what to expect yet or if even the players know what it's going to be like, but I'm putting expectations pretty high," Seguin said. "I think it's the best of the best, and it's going to be a great tournament."
As for the Stars, Seguin is excited to see how the team can build off last season. The Stars had the best record in the Western Conference and then advanced to the second round of the playoffs, nailing down the franchise's first playoff series win since 2008.
"It's huge. You can talk about playoffs all you want, but until you win a game, until you lose a game, until you win a series, until you lose a series, you don't know that taste and what it's like," he said. "That's the kind of stuff that drives you, gaining that experience. Obviously, a couple years ago we made the playoffs, but when you look at our team, this was the first real run a lot of guys have had, so that's good for us and something we want to build on."
The Stars roster went through some changes this offseason. Veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis was the key addition in free agency. The Stars should get a little younger and bigger this season at both forward and defense. Seguin said that has the Stars in a good spot moving forward.
"[It's a] young man's game now. I'm starting to feel a little bit old turning 25 with all of these changes, but I think our team has been great the last couple years," Seguin said. "Our window just opened, and I think every team's got kind of that window that opens where you can win a championship, so that parts exciting. Getting a veteran guy like Hamhuis, it makes you even more excited for the season to start."
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.