Nothing personal against the city or the Canadiens you understand, but for a French Canadian kid from Montreal who was perceived as falling well short of high expectations, a change of scenery can sometimes be a welcome thing. It has been for Ribeiro, who was traded for defenseman Janne Niinimaa just before the second post-lockout season began. The 28-year-old center went on to lead the Stars in scoring last year, and this year, he is leading the team again and appeared in his first All Star Game last month.
"It's been a big change, but a really good one for me," Ribeiro said.
Drafted by Montreal in 1998 after a great junior career in the region, Ribeiro showed promise for a couple of seasons in his early 20s, but his production tailed off after the lockout while his reputation for enjoying night life grew. Ribeiro became a Lightning rod for criticism on a team that had several other issues to deal with, and suddenly being at home wasn't so good any more.
"I didn't have to read the papers or watch T.V. because people, your friends, your family they'll tell you how you're doing and what people are saying," Ribeiro said. "Everyone up there knows about hockey so you can't get away from it. It's tough sometimes."
Ribeiro admitted there was something special about the limelight for a local kid playing for the Canadiens back in the day. But now that he's older, has a family and is playing the best hockey of his career, Ribeiro says he appreciates the sedate environment of Dallas.
"It's a great place to play hockey and the fans here are awesome," Ribeiro said. "But with a family, it's nice to be somewhere where you can get away from the game a little bit. You still have the pressure of winning, but there's less press and people watching so outside the rink you can have some privacy. And that's nice now that I'm older. We can go to a restaurant or do whatever we like and then I can concentrate on hockey."