Spent much of the day out in Frisco and here are some of the highlights:
Joe Nieuwendyk and Jere Lehtinen had their meeting today, and Lehtinen still is unsure if he wants to return to play this season. Nieuwendyk said there is no real deadline for Lehtinen to make a decision and he will give him more time. I asked when a deadline might be needed, and Nieuwendyk said he felt there was still plenty of time.
There are just a handful of players skating right now, and that's an indication of just how young the roster is. In the past, many players had school age kids and so they were in the area already and 10 or 15 would be skating. Right now, Stephane Robidas, Mike Ribeiro, Brenden Morrow, Toby Petersen and Kari Lehtonen are the only regulars. Morrow had the day off today, so it was pretty quiet. Ribeiro first cut his hair very short this week and then today shaved it off when the buzz cut was uncomfortable.
``It just feels right, it feels good,'' Ribeiro said of the bald look. ``Goofy is in this year.''
Ribeiro said he spent most of the summer in Texas and has bought a vacation home on Lake Cypress Springs in East Texas. He said he loves Texas and is happy here, but that he has heard the trade rumors. He said all he can do is work hard and be ready for the season to start. His no-trade clause stipulates that he can name 10 teams that he would not want to be traded to. Otherwise, he can be traded.
``It is hard a little bit, because you do hear about it, but you have to get ready for the season to start and be ready to play your best,'' he said. ``I know I have been skating hard and I'll be ready.''
I talked to a source in the negotiations for James Neal and he said that the Stars are pushing for a two-year contract and that Neal is open to one year or two years, and that's where it's at right now.
Kari Lehtonen said he is in great shape and has been working as hard as he ever has in the summer, and credited strength and conditioning coach J.J. McQueen and Mike Valley with their help this summer.
``I like to believe I worked hard before, but maybe my focus wasn't in the right place or I didn't understand how to do the work and what it meant,'' he said. ``I really like what I am doing here with J.J. and Mike Valley. They are giving me a good plan and they are pushing me hard, and I do believe I am healthier and stronger than I have been. I still have to get into games and play and see how that works, but I am very happy right now and very excited to get things started.''
Lehtonen has found a home and said he really feels like he's a member of the Dallas Stars now.
``It's a different feeling,'' he said. ``It's a lot more comfortable, and it feels like the team I'm supposed to be at. You know your future, and that just makes you feel confident and comfortable. I haven't had that for a couple of years.''