Mr. Monday: Mike Ribeiro

by Chelsea

Centering the Dallas Stars top line, Mike Ribeiro flew through our SHR +/- with +21 in only three games (granted, we kinda skipped over the two nasty road losses…). After a stellar performance against the New York Islanders in which he claimed four assists and a goal for a five-point night, he now leads the team in assists with 13 in 14 games.

He’s put up points in 8 of those 14 games and is 9th in the league for assists. 

Also, he’s got a heck of a new headshot for the 08-09 season.

 

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He's gonna eat your soul. 😦

Ribeiro started his NHL career 1998 as a second round draft pick by Montreal, his hometown. However, it wasn’t until the 03-04 season that he was given the chance to play a full season. That year, he played 81 games and had 65 points. He’d only play one more full season with the Canadiens (a 51-point season) before he was traded to Dallas.

For someone playing for the team he grew up watching, Ribeiro did not have a particularly positive legacy. He was known more for his playoff performance, in which he extremely over-exaggerated an injury (think flailing around on the ice) only to get caught grinning and laughing about it on the bench, than his ability to set up plays. 

He supposedly also had trouble getting along with fellow Hab Saku Koivu, reportedly having a rivalry for top centering spot before he was traded to the Stars. He also frustrated Canadiens management with his attitude and tendency to lose his momentum come playoffs time. When the Stars offered defenseman Janne Niinimaa for Ribeiro and a 2008 draft pick, Montreal pulled the trigger, and Ribeiro was headed to Texas.

Ribeiro shined almost immediately as a Star. He played 81 games in his first season and put up another 59 points. Ex-GM Doug Armstrong was quoted as saying, 

 “I think somewhere on the airline flight from Montreal to Dallas it clicked in, because he’s played hard and he’s performed well.

Though he’s maintained his eccentric style (both on and off the ice), Ribeiro managed to leave the poor attitude behind him in Canada. Stars management opened their arms and embraced Ribeiro as the player he is, instead of trying to fit him into a mold of what they felt he should be. As a result, his more positive attributes became apparent where they hadn’t before. Instead of being known as a “diver”, Ribeiro was being seen as someone who could snake the puck through any amount of bodies, who could put the puck in the net, and who could set up his teammates for success.

It certainly didn’t hurt that he found instant chemistry with Stars captain Brenden Morrow. Ribeiro maneuvers the puck to the net, and Morrow puts it in. It was a perfect match that showed clearly in numbers; for both, last season was a career high, with Ribeiro getting 56 assists and 83 points in the regular season alone, and Morrow with 32 goals and 74 points. 

However, no matter which team he plays on, Ribeiro never fails to provide us with classic playoff moments. In the third round 07-08 playoffs, Ribs had a little confrontation with Detroit netminder Chris Osgood. After Osgood attempted to shove the end of his goalie stick up Ribeiro’s nose as he skated by, our feisty forward responded with a baseball-style swing into Osgood’s chest. Red Wings fans called for his head, and Stars fans argued that it was only payback. In the end, the NHL did not penalize him besides fining both parties for an undisclosed amount. 

Last year was also Ribeiro’s first to play in the NHL All-Star game.

He’s also on the ballot for this year’s game. 

There’s a lot to like about Mike Ribeiro, to be sure. His style of play has been described as “painfully creative”, and to us at SHR he resembles a cat playing with a mouse when he’s got the puck. He’s patient, a wizard when it comes to setting up plays for his linemates. He’s got an attitude that’s earned him a reputation among fans as a “hockey gangsta”, with the fashion sense to match (he showed up after practice in a slouchy, sparkly zebra-print shirt one day). When asked “Player or Playa?”, Ribs says “… Playa.”, with a grin. 

I couldn’t do a Mike Ribeiro piece without giving you this clip, known as the Ribbons Dance.

Of course, WordPress hates custom html so I can’t embed the clip because it isn’t on Youtube. Basically. So, here’s the link to it instead: Ribbons Dance. Skip ahead to 2:22 for it. 

Ribeiro inked a five-year contract with the Stars in January, so be prepared for much more of his highlight reel moments in black and gold.

On a more personal note, Ribeiro is a Portuguese French Canadian. His father played soccer professionally in Portugal and his mother quit her job to be a full-time parent and hockey mom for him. He’s got a family of his own; a wife, Tamara, and three kids, Mikael, Noah, and Viktoria. 

After his trade to Dallas, he said this in an article from NHL.com:

“My wife and kids and I are closer than ever,” Ribeiro said. “There are no outside distractions. I feel more focused … maybe more responsible for our life as a family than I ever have. Maybe that’s made me more mature, more accountable on the ice.”

So…

He might be scrawny, crazy, and painfully creative, but he’s an relentless player whose high skill level practically bleeds out onto the ice. Not to mention he’s one of the most amusing players to watch during a game.

 

He loves his Stars.

He loves his Stars.

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