Mike Ribeiro is probably the most offensively talented player on the Stars.
But as Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker in Spiderman, ``With great power comes great responsibility.''
Ribeiro's greatest task this season is finding the line between using his power for self gratification and using it to make the team better.
Often times, the two things combine, but what hockey experts will tell you about Ribeiro is they wonder how often he is doing something to show off and how often he is doing something to help his team win.
In my opinion, I think he actually is doing the latter more than the former. Ribeiro clearly carries himself with uber confidence _ everything from his dress to his mannerisms to his style of play. But I also think he believes he has found a home in Dallas, and that the Stars are a team that really saw the potential in him...and let him explore that potential.
In his last season in Montreall, Ribeiro had 16 goals among 51 points in 79 games.
In his last two seasons in Dallas, he has posted 27-56_83 in 76 games and 22-56_78 in 82 games. He played in the All-Star Game two seasons ago.
As such, I think he wants to pay them back, he wants to reward them for believing in him, he wants to show he belongs.
And, to be fair to him, he was probably given far too much rope last season because of the injuries to the team. The Stars needed a player to take up the slack, and Ribeiro gladly jumped into the void, playing 20:57 a game (2:31 more per game than the previous season). That fed into Ribeiro's tendency to overstay his shifts, which has been a big problem in the past. The reason is that teams need to roll lines to create chemistry among linemates. If Ribeiro stays out an extra 15 or 20 seconds because he wants to make something happen offensively, he will probably be out there an extra 15 to 20 seconds with another's line's wingers. This is especially true when he has a linemate like Jere Lehtinen, who likes to take short shifts. So, if Lehtinen comes off at 40 seconds and then Ribeiro comes off at 58 seconds, Brad Richards enters the ice with about a 25-to-30-second window to make things work with his linemate Loui Eriksson (who came on when Lehtinen went off and will probably leave the ice when his 45 seconds are up). That's just not conducive to the flow of the team.
It's obviously frustrating for Richards, but it's also just bad for everyone.
And Ribeiro needs to learn that lesson somehow.
You can see in his body language that he is trying so hard to make something happen, that he just hates to leave the ice. And he might even have the energy at the end of his shift to come up with a big play every once in a while to support the idea that he's helping the team. But the problem is that by overstaying his shift, Ribeiro is hurting the team more in the long run than helping it. He also is sending out the signals that he is a selfish player, and that can become a problem after a while.
One of the reasons Ribeiro has succeeded in Dallas is because the old power structure (Les Jackson and Dave Tippett primarily) gave him a lot of room to grow. They allowed him to push the boundaries and use his skill. They allowed him to show his personality. And it will be very interesting to see if the new administration will do likewise.
Joe Nieuwendyk might have different ideas about offensive philosophy than Bob Gainey or Ken Hitchcock had, but he does not have different ideas about discipline and team concept. If you look back at the numbers of the old teams, players sacrificed individual goals to make the team better. Niuwendyk didn't post the numbers he could have (and averaged only about 16 minutes a game of ice time when he was here). Mike Modano and Brett Hull also saw their numbers drop in the Stars system. They put team above everything else.
My guess is Nieuwendyk and Marc Crawford will be pushing a similar agenda of discipline.
If that's the case, Ribeiro may be in for one of the biggest mental adjustments on the team.
He is a wonderful talent who can create with the best of them, but his task this season might be to use that same creativity within the boundaries of a system.
I think he should again have a very good year, but Mike Ribeiro will be a very interesting case study to compare the old and the new.