On Thursday night against Los Angeles, Eric Nystrom scored his first goal as a member of the Dallas Stars. For many players, that would have been a big deal, but not for the 28-year-old winger. That's because the Stars came out on the short end of the stick, losing to the Kings 5-3 for their first home loss on the young season.
The second-generation NHL player was asked about his initial tally since coming over in a trade from Minnesota on Oct. 10 just after a morning skate on Oct. 29, only a few hours before Dallas would host New Jersey at the American Airlines Center.
"It would have been huge if we won the game. It's nice to score but I'd rather win any day of the week," Nystrom said.
So far, the native of New York State has been logging all of his ice time as a member of the Stars' checking line, where he plays alongside veterans Radek Dvorak and Vernon Fiddler. It's a group he definitely feels comfortable skating with.
"It's awesome," Nystrom said. "They're pretty predictable. I know exactly what they're going to do and I try to keep it simple so that they know when I get the puck what I'm going to do with it. I think we've done a good job of that early on. These guys can fly. I think we have good speed on the line and we don't try to do too much. I think we've had a lot of success. It's a great line to sink into for sure."
Counting the ice time he logged in Saturday's win over the Devils, he has now skated in seven games for Dallas and new Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan likes what he had seen from the newest member of the roster through his first seven games.
"He's been real good," Gulutzan said. "Nys is a guy that I have a slight history with. When I was in Vegas with Calgary, development camps and NHL camps, he was a guy that was around that organization as a young guy and then made it to the NHL. So I've watched him play quite a bit. He's playing the way he always plays. He plays high energy and high octane. He gets in your face and he finishes his checks. That's been a welcome addition for us."
And continuing that relationship with Gully was a big plus associated with him being dealt from the Wild to the Stars.
"Yeah, when I was in Calgary, Gully was coaching the East Coast League affiliate, so in training camp, he was always there," Nystrom said. "We used to have small talk. He believes in me as a player and it's good to have somebody know who you are. I'm just so thankful to be here and so happy. I really like the direction of this team and feel like I fit in well. Gully's a big part of that."
But if there is one thing people seem to always ask this experienced winger about more than any other, that line of questioning centers around what it's like to be the son of a guy who won four Stanley Cups. Eric's father, Bob, was a key contributor to the Islanders' Cup dynasty that won four straight titles in the early 1980s.
And while he's proud to come from such a solid hockey bloodline, he admits he's also a different type of player than his old man whenever he's out there on the ice.
"It's pretty standard for me to be asked about that," Nystrom said. "There's a lot of history with my dad and rightfully so. He had one hell of a career. He won four Cups. It's got to be so exciting for him also to see his son play in the league. But I play the game because I love the sport, not because my dad played in the league. Just to get here, I'm just so fortunate. I'm so happy to be here."
Before the Stars acquired him from Minnesota about three weeks ago, he admits he was stuck in a bit of the holding pattern in the Twin Cities and with the Wild. However, that all quickly changed when Dallas traded for him and in an instant, he had a new lease on life here in Big D and playing under a coach he already knew quite well from his time with the Flames.
"It's a funny game. Where I was, I didn't fit in. They just didn't see me in the picture there and they wanted to go younger," Nystrom said. "They thought they had guys there that were ahead of me on the depth chart. Obviously, last year I didn't have a great year. To get an opportunity to go to a new team and have these guys welcome me the way they have and to get an opportunity to play the game I think I'm capable of, it's a huge relief. When I heard the news, I was just so happy to get a clean start and play the way that I know I can."
The trade accomplished several things for the newest Star. Not only did it put him in a great situation, especially when compared to how things were with the Wild, but he also has some stability since he knows he'll be in Dallas for at least the next two seasons since Minnesota had signed him to a three-year deal last season.
"I've learned a lot from the whole experience," Nystrom said. "You have to have a never-say-die attitude. You have to go as hard as you can every single day and you never know who's watching. I'm just ready to go balls out here."