The Stars bring the party to Toronto tonight.
With seven natives of Ontario, plus her adopted son Jason Robertsonthere will be a ton of stories to watch when the Stars take on the Maple Leafs on Thursday.
“You can feel the excitement when you come here, lots of guys from Ontario, lots of connections here,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “I love coaching here. It’s my home province. You never have to pump guys to play – they’re ready to go.”
Ty Dellandrea, Tyler Seguin, Scott Wedgewood, march of the masons, Joel Hanley and Colin Miller will be back in their home province and should have friends and family. Wedgewood starts in front of goal and should have tons of people cheering him on.
19 years old Wyatt Johnston play in the arena of his “boyhood” heroes, as he was born in Toronto and has been a lifelong Leafs fan.
And Robertson will play his brother Nick. Both grew up in California, Ontario and Michigan, and both played in the Ontario Hockey League. They have lots of friends who should be there.
Wedgewood has a great history as he struggled against the Minors and the NHL, and eventually got a full-time job as a backup goaltender for the Stars. He just turned 30 and being able to celebrate his future with his friends and family will be nice for a night.
DeBoer said he wants to keep Wedgewood in the rotation, but starting in Toronto is also a good boost.
“We have to get him in. When we were planning the season, we wanted to make sure we got him every two or three games, and four already,” DeBoer said. “With the way Otter plays, you could argue he could play every night, but it’s a long season, and Wedgy will play a big role going forward. Hometown…he’s excited to play. C is the right time to do it.”
For Johnston, there is probably never a perfect time to deal with this kind of emotion, but he has shown the ability to handle himself in stressful situations.
“It will be a really cool experience to play here,” he said. “I don’t know if it will feel real to me. A lot of this stuff doesn’t really feel real to me. It’s pretty crazy.”
Johnston has already been through training camp and played both road and home games, and he’s ready for the next challenge.
“He went through those jitters, making the roster, his first game and then his first home game,” DeBoer said. “He’s shown real unfazed by some of the things we’ve thrown at him so far, so this is just another one of those firsts for him in a long career.”
Johnston had some Maple Leafs stuff in his bedroom when he was growing up, but he’s since gotten rid of it. Still, playing in Toronto will be important and he will share that excitement with his teammates.
“It’s a home game for a lot of guys,” he said. “A lot of guys will have friends and family in the building, so it’s going to be very special for a lot of us.”
Tyler Seguin has 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) in 32 career games against Toronto.
It’s a small sample, but Toronto allowed the second-lowest shots-on-goal average to start the season at 24.0. Dallas averaged 26.7 per game, which ranks it 28th.
Toronto ranks sixth in hits per game with 29.5. Dallas ranks 26th at 18.3.
He said it
“We made that change last game, and it gave this group a little boost. We’re interchangeable in the way we play, so I don’t think that’s a big deal. Two good betting men to the game at Glendening and Faksa, so not a major change, but definitely an adjustment.”
-All-star coach Pete DeBoer on the move Radek Faksa on the wing and Luke Glendening center on the fourth line.
This story has not been submitted for endorsement by the National Hockey League or the Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.