FRISCO, Texas — Patrik Nemeth is just trying to escape from the press box.
The Dallas Stars defenseman has been a victim of circumstance this season. A combination of the Stars carrying eight defensemen, his non-waiver exempt status, and roster decisions have kept Nemeth in professional purgatory and limited him to 16 NHL games this season.
And Nemeth was back at practice with Dallas on Sunday after getting recalled from an AHL conditioning stint with the Texas Stars. The original plan was for Nemeth to spend 14 days and play eight games with Texas, but a hand injury suffered by Jamie Oleksiak forced an earlier recall so Dallas could have seven defensemen for the upcoming road trip.
A player can have one non-injury related AHL conditioning stint per season.
“It felt great to go down and play,” Nemeth said. “It’s just fun to get in the lineup on a regular basis and play good minutes.”
Nemeth’s conditioning stint got positive reviews. He played his game in the AHL and was physically imposing, he also had a goal and two assists.
“I played the game (in the AHL) I can play up here,” Nemeth said.
Now Nemeth is hoping the Stars will make the most of his recent playing time.
Since December started Nemeth has only played two NHL games. He didn’t play poorly in either game, but he didn’t get much playing time and was immediately returned to the press box for the next game.
Nemeth might have a chance to get in the lineup on Monday against the Buffalo Sabres. The Stars lost to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and allowed five goals, and Lindy Ruff tends to shuffle his lineup after a loss.
“Hopefully I get in the lineup here,” Nemeth said. “It is what it is up here. So we’ll see, if I get in that would be nice. It’s so much harder when you just go in and out. When you know you’re going to play and you can play through mistakes, that’s huge, right. Just go in and you get scratched, just because you make a bad play, that’s not good for anyone. That’s the way it’s been, so we’ll see what happens.”
It’s been mentally taxing on Nemeth.
“It’s really tough,” Nemeth said. “This is what I want to do and this is my job and what I’ve been working on my whole life. When you don’t get the opportunity to do that it’s tough. So it is very hard. You just have to find people to talk to and seek, so you don’t just get all emotional by yourself. Just try to think of other things, but it’s really hard to not think about it.”