Eriksson, Smith relishing return to Dallas
DALLAS — Not only does Thursday’s visit from the Boston Bruins mark the end of a three-game homestand for the Dallas Stars, but it will also mark a homecoming for former Stars forwards Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith, who were both traded to Beantown last summer in the July 4 blockbuster than landed Dallas Tyler Seguin.
Eriksson played some 501 games for the Stars and was an NHL All-Star in 2011. Unfortunately, his first season with the Bruins has been marred by a pair of concussions but when healthy he has contributed 15 points (5-10-15) in 26 games.
"He’s been unfortunate with the concussions and I said that sarcastically because he’s a good player and when he’s been at the top of his game, you can see the smarts and you can see why he’s a good two-way player," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said of Eriksson.
Julien added: "But unfortunately, those injuries he suffered were pretty serious injuries so there’s no doubt it’s set him back and we haven’t seen the best out of Loui yet. There’s still half a season left and hopefully he stays healthy and we see the best of him in that second half, if that’s the case, then that’ll be great."
Eriksson continues to wear the same No. 21 he sported for so many seasons in Dallas and the soft-spoken Swede was definitely happy to be making his return to the same arena he called home for so many years as a member of the Stars.
"Yeah, it’s a little bit weird, coming in here and walking into the other locker room. I’ve never been in this locker room, so it’s kind of weird," Eriksson said. "But it’s nice to be here and I’m excited to get going tonight."
With the Stars almost completely overhauling their roster this past offseason, there aren’t many of Eriksson’s ex-teammates who remain. But one of those, veteran defenseman Trevor Daley, is definitely glad to see his former teammate healthy once again.
"Yeah, Loui was a great teammate, still is a good friend of mine, so I’m happy to see him back and healthy again," Daley said. "He’s taken two pretty good ones to the head in the past year or so. I’m just happy to see him back. I was hoping he’d wait after he came here before he came back and played, but just happy to see him, that he’s OK."
Of course, Thursday’s game also marks the first game back in Dallas for Smith, 22, who played 40 games for the Stars prior to being dealt last summer. Smith has settled in nicely with the Bruins and currently has 33 points (15-18-33) in 46 games, earning him some rave reviews from his new head coach in the Eastern Conference.
"The other guy, Smith, has been outstanding for us, so we’ve been pretty happy with both players, just disappointed the fact that Loui has suffered so many injuries. It’s been tough on him and it’s obviously taken away a lot from our hockey club," Julien said.
Like Eriksson, Smith has settled in nicely with his new club, but he too admitted he was a bit caught up in the experience of returning to Dallas for the first time as a Bruin.
"It’s a little different. I think the weirdest part of it was just flying into Dallas. I hadn’t been here since last year, so that was a little weird," Smith said. "But showing up to the rink, weird going to a different dressing room, kind of a little lost over on this side, but it should be fun and I’m excited for the experience to come back and play Dallas."