It wasn’t that long ago that social media in the North Texas area was being littered with #SignNystrom notices from the Dallas Stars faithful. Playing in his final year of his current contract, fans began to pick up the intensity when the NHL locked out the players right as the 2012-2013 campaign was to begin. All Dallas fans could wonder was, “Have we already seen the last of Nystrom in a Stars uniform.”
Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and we at least got half a season, and one more opportunity to say goodbye to the catalyst behind the pesky that was the heart and soul of the Stars’ identity. However, once the season came winding down and Stars owner, Tom Gaglardi made a move at general manager, bringing in Jim Nill to replace Joe Nieuwendyk, it became a foregone conclusion that fans would be seeing Eric Nystrom in a Stars jersey for the last time.
So, it’s only natural to look at this Stars team and wonder what happened to that fire they used to play with. There are things that are said in the room during the course of a game and season that never make it out into the public. Even as an aspiring media member, I prefer it that way. That’s what makes the room so sacred. One thing is certain and that’s the energy and passion that Nystrom brought to the Stars. Tonight, the Stars will have to face that fire for the first time, and based on how Eric played against Minnesota when he returned for the first time, you can bet that fire will be burning deep.
“Any time you play your old team, it’s always…there’s always mixed emotions,” said Nystrom after Nashville’s morning skate. “I went to dinner with a few of the guys, but this is a huge game for us tonight. We’re right behind those guys in the standings so there are no friends out there.”
When asked by Mike Heika about his time in Dallas, Eric had nothing but positive reviews. “It was a great experience and I was treated so well. Gully (former head coach, Glen Gulutzan) and Joe Nieuwendyk gave me a chance and I’ll never forget it.”
Eric was also asked about how he’ll potentially play against Dallas’ new “spark plug,” Antoine Roussel. “Don’t get him fired up because he lives off of that.”
When you talk about leadership on and off the ice, Eric Nystrom is the perfect picture of someone to help lead a young team. He’s not going to score you 35 goals and get 70 points, but he does so much more…stuff that doesn’t even show up on a score sheet. There doesn’t appear to be any hard feelings between the two parties. Jim Nill told StarsInsider that the Stars definitely attempted to re-sign Nystrom and met with Eric’s agent on several occasions. At the same side, there was no way the Stars were going to meet Eric’s contract request (which ended up being 4 years at approximately $2.5 million a year). Eric, in my very biased opinion, did not ask for anything out of line. I had even said if the Stars wanted to bring Nystrom back, it was going to be 4 years/$2M.
It’s easy to get caught up in the brawn that Nystrom brought to the table such as the following against one of the toughest SOBs in the league, Jordin Tootoo to begin a game vs. Detroit:
Or perhaps this “line dance” between the Stars and the Vancouver Canucks
But, it’s also important to remember as you watch the Stars and the Perds (no, not a typo…they will forever be Perds to me), Eric is a dangler and he will put the puck in the net at all costs. Just ask Michal Neuvirth.