When recently acquired Capitals center Mike Ribeiro greeted the Washington media on Saturday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, he showed up wearing a diamond earring, a gold necklace, white pants and sandals.
Adam Oates first impressions of the 32-year-old veteran?
Well, hes skinnier than I thought he was, Oates said. And, oh my, hes a rapper. He looks like a rapper.
Just imagine the kind of music Ribeiro and Alex Ovechkin could make. After all, Ovechkin was featured in a Russian rap video last summer.
The Caps, of course, are more interested to see what kind of music Ribeiro and Ovechkin can create on the ice next season. The Capitals acquired Ribeiro from the Dallas Stars just before the NHL draft on June 22, in exchange for Cody Eakin and the 54th pick of the draft.
In his past six seasons in Dallas, Ribeiro has averaged 21 goals and 47 assists and the Capitals are expecting similar numbers next season, especially if he is matched with Ovechkin.
Obviously its a team with a lot of skill and a lot of talent and Im here to create, Ribeiro said. Im a guy that likes to create so its nice to have guys who can put the puck in the net.
At the end of the day every year this team is among the top five favorites for winning the Cup but theres always a missing piece or two, so hopefully I can be that piece that helps this team go farther in the playoffs and hopefully win a Cup.
When Ribeiro was traded from the Montreal Canandiens to the Stars in 2006 he thought he was going to the Capitals instead. This time around he wasnt sure where he was headed but with one year and 5 million remaining on his contract he had a good idea the Stars were ready to cut ties with him.
We changed coaches twice and we didnt make the playoffs the last four years so you figure that the next thing they may do is trade the top salary or the top player, so I was waiting for it, Ribeiro said. I just didnt know where I was going. But Im glad that Im here and have a chance to win and a chance to win the Cup.
For those counting, thats three references to the Stanley Cup in a span of just a few minutes.
Ribeiro said one of the first phone calls he received after the trade came from Ovechkin, who struggled through a 65-point season last year, the least productive of his career.
Thats the first thing that crossed my mind, Ribeiro said of playing alongside Ovechkin. I like right-handers and hes a right-handed shooter and it will probably be easier for me during the game to give the puck to a guy like that who can score.
But most of all, the first thing that crossed my mind was the power play and being able to have Mike Green and Ovechkin, two right-handed shots, and to be able to dish to those guys. Hopefully, we can have a great power play because nowadays special teams are one of the most important things in the game.
Although Ribeiros career numbers 173 goals, 287 assists pale in comparison to Oates 341 goals, 1,079 assists, he said the two play very similar styles and overcame many of the same obstacles.
He wasnt that fast, Im not that fast, Ribeiro said. Hes a guy that likes to create plays and Im kind of the same. Obviously, he was probably a better than me as a passer.
He looks cool and relaxed and really down to earth and I guess for players like us, its nice to know that your coach played in the league and knows the game a little bit more. Im just anxious to come here and learn again. Ive learned from all my coaches and Im sure Im going to learn again. Im 32 and Ive learned a lot but theres a lot more to learn too and Im excited for it.
Oates recorded 651 points after his 32nd birthday and is hoping Ribeiro is capable of getting better with age, especially if he shares the ice with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
I feel 22, said Ribeiro, who has two boys, Mikael, 11, and Noah, 7, and a girl, Viktoria, 6. I feel great. With the talent that we have and the skill and players that we have I can see myself having an even better season than in the past.
Ribeiro joked that Ovechkin is one of his sons favorite players and he hopes playing with No. 8 will rejuvenate his career. Ribeiro has also chosen to wear No. 9, a number he wore when he was growing up but was denied him when he played in Montreal because of Rocket Richard and in Dallas because of Mike Modano.
When I came here, the first thing I said was, Well, 9 is free. So for the first time after 12 years, I can play with it, Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro said he is hoping the Capitals can get him back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. In 42 career playoff games Ribeiro has five goals and 20 assists but no Cup rings.
Championships is winning by defense, he said. You can score five, six, seven goals during the regular season and when it comes to playoff time, you score two or three max.
You need to focus defensively a little bit more and take chances away from other teams. With the talent that we have, the skill, I think if you're patient and play smart defensively, you'll create offense just by your skill.