The NHL’s Dallas Stars arrive, ready to start training camp in Charlottetown
© Nigel Armstrong
Sheldon Souray, left and Loui Eriksson exit a bus as they arrive in Charlottetown Friday for the start of the Dallas Stars' training camp.
By Al MacLeod
To quote Thin Lizzy - the boys are back in town.
The Dallas Stars arrived in Charlottetown Friday night ready to begin their second training camp in the capital. They hit the ice in the club's first full-team practice Saturday at 9:15 a.m. at the MacLauchlan Arena.
The players will join up with the club's prospects, who arrived Thursday and participated in a short practice session Friday at the Mac.
The team got off to a hot start last season, going 4-0, after its abbreviated camp on the Island and hung in the playoff race until the end. The Stars fell short of making the postseason with a loss to the Minnesota Wild on the final day of the regular season.
This year, the organization's stay is extended to five days of workouts and practice sessions, highlighted by an intra-squad game Sunday at the Charlottetown Civic Centre at 6 p.m.
All healthy players will be in the lineup, with many players battling for roster spots and line assignments.
Last year the game proved to be a huge draw. This year, hometown hockey hero Brad Richards - who signed with the New York Rangers in the offseason - will not be on the ice. The Charlottetown game will nevertheless provide plenty of action and showcase some of the best players in the world.
One highly-skilled player who is quite familiar with the Island is 2011 Stanley Cup champion Michael Ryder.
The Bonavista, N.L. native racked up 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 points in 79 regular season games before contributing eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 25 games during the Boston Bruins' Cup run last season.
Ryder said he was excited about coming to P.E.I. for training camp.
"As a kid, I came over (to P.E.I.) playing hockey a lot and was in hockey schools and that," he said Friday after arriving at the Delta hotel.
"I enjoyed it and to come back is pretty neat. It's going to be a fun few days for us and hopefully, we can gel together and get a lot of team chemistry going here."
Coming off the Cup win last season, Ryder said he feels he can help his new team in a few different areas.
"We went through a lot there last year with the team we had in Boston, so I'll just try to bring some experience and just take on a role and try to help this team offensively and do what I can to help us win."
The camp will provide a chance to get back into the groove and prepare for the season, he said.
"Just to learn the system and get used to everybody and get used to the guys and how they play.
"For myself, just try to get back into form and get ready for the season."
Ryder is one of three players from the Maritimes on the Stars.
He joins fellow Bonavista-native blueliner Adam Pardy and Summerside's Steve Ott.
The Dallas Stars amateur scout Shane Turner is also based on P.E.I.