Schlemko embracing fresh start with Stars

David Schlemko has yet to debut for the Dallas Stars, but the veteran defenseman who the Stars claimed off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday morning is looking forward to getting a fresh start with Lindy Ruff’s club.

"Things haven’t gone so well for me personally this first half of the year as well as in Arizona. We’ve had a tough go. I’m very excited to get things going here and kind of a fresh start and just take advantage of the opportunity," Schlemko said after the Stars beat the Minnesota Wild 7-1 on Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

Schlemko, 27, is in his sixth NHL season, but he had appeared in just 20 games this season for the Coyotes, as he was a healthy scratch for a good part of the year, a scenario he honestly didn’t like but being a true professional, one he rolled with for the good of the team.

In fact, he was a healthy scratch when Arizona visited the AAC on Wednesday, a game the Coyotes lost 6-0. 

"Well, it’s been tough," he said of his time with the Coyotes this year. "I’ve dealt with some injuries in the past but I haven’t really dealt with getting a healthy scratch much. I’ve had some talks with the coaches there and I understood from a team standpoint where we were and they wanted to get the young guys in and play them, but for me personally it is tough."

Schlemko is someone who Ruff knows well from having faced him over the past few seasons as an NHL head coach whether it has been in Dallas or in his previous gig with the Buffalo Sabres.

And it’s fair to say that he likes the skill set his newest defenseman brings to his rotation at the blue line.

"He’s a good puck mover. He’s dependable in his own end. On the offensive side, I think he’s more of a cautious type of defenseman, but defends well and makes a real good first pass," Ruff said. "I’ve watched a lot of games. I like the way he plays; he’s a heady player and he’s a good defender."

During his time with the Coyotes, he was teammates with current Stars left winger Vernon Fiddler and he also knows fellow forward and Edmonton native Ryan Garbutt after meeting him at his golf tournament several years back. 

And while he is something of an unknown commodity to both Dallas fans and maybe even some of his new teammates, the newest Star has no doubt about exactly what he brings to the table with his new employer.

"Puck moving, get gaps, jumping into the play. I really liked what I saw watching the game tonight. In Arizona, it’s a lot more structure and defense-based. I really like the style of play that these guys have and think I can complement it pretty well," Schlemko said.

Schlemko could make his Stars debut as soon as Sunday night when Dallas concludes a back-to-back against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.