Dallas Stars ready to show off new faces in new places

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Stars training camp schedule in Fort Worth Today: First day of practice 9 a.m.-10:45 a.m.: Players on the ice for camp 11:45 a.m.: Scrimmage Friday: Second day of practice 9 a.m.-10:45 a.m. : Players on the ice for camp 11:45 a.m.: Scrimmage Saturday: Last day of practice and team scrimmage 10 a.m.: Practice and “Green and White” team scrimmage All times are subject to change. Check DallasStars.com for updates on events or changes in schedule.

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While Lindy Ruff is a new face on the bench, he’s a familiar foe to Dallas Stars fans.

Ruff spent his 15-year coaching career in Buffalo, which included coaching against the Stars in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, where Brett Hull scored a controversial goal to win the Cup for the Stars. Fourteen years and a day later, Ruff was announced as the Stars’ 22nd coach, seventh since the team moved to Dallas.

Ruff left Buffalo as the winningest coach in the organization’s history, posting a 571-432-162 record, and he is the 12th-winningest coach in NHL history. Among active coaches, he is third in wins. Ruff spent his first weeks as the Stars coach being asked about that Stanley Cup-winning goal, which he argued fervently after the game, and provided an answer that gave the best look into his coaching style and the drive he brings to Dallas.

“That same emotion and same passion will be here in Dallas if the same type of thing happens or anything similar because that’s the fire I have,” Ruff said. “That’s what you are going to look forward to.”

New general manager Jim Nill shares that same passion.

Stars owner Tom Gaglardi made huge strides for the future of the organization by luring Nill, one of the league’s top general manager prospects, away from Detroit.

Nill spent 15 years as the assistant general manager for the Red Wings with a focus on amateur scouting, the draft and player development. Nill has already shown his vision for this new era, trading for one of the league’s young stars, Tyler Seguin, as well as veteran forwards Rich Peverley and Shawn Horcoff and bringing Sergei Gonchar in to solidify the defense.

While Nill utilized the trade and free-agent markets to revamp the roster, his real drive is to build the team from the bottom up. He will use the draft and player development to build depth in the organization in the years to come.

“In this new CBA, [the league] evolves every two or three years and you have to stay four or five years ahead of that,” Nill said. “The teams that do best are going to be the teams that stay consistently in the playoffs. To really build a successful team, you need two or three drafts where four or five players come up at the same time.”

Here are some players to watch in camp:

• LW Jamie Benn — While Benn has become the face of the franchise in his four seasons with the Stars, it will be as if the organization got a new player this season. Bringing in Tyler Seguin as first-line center will allow Benn to move back to his natural position at left wing. Benn won’t have to worry about the face-off circle anymore and can focus solely on finding the back of the net.

• RW Alex Chiasson — Chiasson played in only seven games last season, wowing the Stars by scoring six goals with an assist. Is Chiasson the real deal, or was his end of season production a flash in the pan?

• G Kari Lehtonen — In hockey, success begins and ends with the goaltender, and the Stars have locked down one of the best. Statistically, Lehtonen has demonstrated he can be the guy to carry the Stars into the playoffs, but injuries have been an issue. It’s always a key storyline to see if the Finn can remain healthy through the season.

• C Tyler Seguin — In one of the blockbuster off-season trades, new Stars GM Jim Nill brought in Seguin to be the team’s top-line center. Seguin spent his first three years playing for the Boston Bruins, where he appeared in two Stanley Cup Finals and won a Cup in his rookie season.

• D Sergei Gonchar — The Stars acquired the rights to Gonchar and signed him to a two-year deal. Gonchar brings a veteran presence to the Stars’ blue line. Last season for Ottawa, Gonchar led his fellow defensemen in scoring and was second on the team in points with 27.

• RW Valeri Nichushkin — Nichushkin was the Stars’ first pick in the 2013 NHL Draft (10th overall). He chose the NHL over the Russian national league. He will compete for a roster spot during training camp and the exhibition season. Nichushkin will have Gonchar to help mentor him into his life in America and the NHL game. Gonchar had previously been credited with mentoring Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin.

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