When Mike Ribeiro was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Capitals before the 2012 NHL draft, he had a choice to make.
With one year remaining on the five-year deal he signed with Dallas, and with a potential lockout looming, Ribeiro had to decide between staying in Dallas with his wife and three children; moving everyone to D.C.; or leaving his family behind and living on his own.
Ribeiro and his wife, Tamara, decided a move to D.C. would be best for themselves and their three children, 12-year-old Mikael, 8-year-old Noah and 7-year-old Viktoria.
“It was more of a personal [decision],” Ribeiro said. “It was a decision for the family to move and just focus on us and not everything around.
“It was a good time for us to grow together here. Hopefully, I can stay here as long as I can and not move my family again.”
The NHL lockout meant many things for many players and for Ribeiro it meant reconnecting with his family. In September the Ribeiros moved to McLean, Va., for its excellent schools.
Ribeiro’s boys, both of them hockey players, were anxious to meet Alex Ovechkin and the rest of their dad’s new teammates. But when the NHL locked players out on Sept. 15 and the Ribeiros began school, their family routine changed dramatically.
Mike Ribeiro began cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping.
“The kids don’t really like my eggs,” he said with a laugh.
Ribeiro said his time around the house started nice, saying he felt like a combination of Mom, Dad and nanny.
“But you miss your work,” he said. “It’s fine you’re helping, but [the wives], they need their space.”
Ribeiro, who turns 33 next month, said he stayed in shape by running and skating with his two sons’ hockey teams, joking that whenever he needed a boost in confidence he’d score on a 12-year-old goalie.
At 6-foot and 178 pounds Ribeiro admits he’s not much of a physical specimen. But his vision on the ice is almost unparalleled and he says the mental approach for a shortened season might be just as important as the physical.
“I’m not a big guy,” Ribeiro said. “My game is not about being physical. It’s more about getting ready mentally.
“I don’t think it will be a problem to get back where I was [physically],” he said. “Two weeks will be enough. Hopefully, those guys that have been playing over [in Europe], like Ovi, can come back and I’ll give him the puck and he can score.”
When Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom return from their stint in the Kontinental Hockey League – Backstrom arrived late Sunday and Ovechkin was expected back late Monday – it will be interesting to see whether Oates uses Ribeiro or Backstrom as Ovechkin’s center. Both are crafty left-handed centermen who can set up the right-handed shooting Ovechkin.
“He shoots right and I can dish the puck,” Ribeiro said. “I’m not fast, I’m not big, but I like to pass the puck and I hope I bring some experience.”
In addition to his offense, Ribeiro is sure to bring a light-hearted personality to the Caps locker room. He drives a Bentley, sports a two-carat diamond earring and has no problem saying whatever is on his mind.
He says he’s anxious to begin a new season in a new city under a new coach and is hoping that within a few weeks the Caps can make football fans forget all about the Redskins.
“Now that football’s over here I think it would be nice for fans to get interested in hockey,” Ribeiro said. “… I think everyone wants it and we need to grow the game again.”