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DALLAS — Tyler Seguin didn’t look like himself this season.
Yes, the 25-year-old had 72 points and tied for the Dallas Stars team lead with 26 goals. But, he didn’t have the desired impact and never looked like he was at full strength.
The first step and the speed, that real blow-by-the-defender stride, was missing and Seguin went through stretches were he disappeared and was a non-factor as the Stars endured a difficult season.
While speaking to media members on Monday, Seguin admitted for the first time — publicly at least — that he was still feeling the impact of an achilles injury that cost him the end of the 2015-16 season and all but one game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Yeah, when I hurt my Achilles, they told me it would take about a year to be fully fixed. Still waiting for it to be fully fixed I guess,” Seguin said. “Last summer, I didn’t get a chance or the opportunity to do any running, do any agility. I just was able to ride the bike, so this offseason I’m looking forward to doing that a bit more, getting that next step of speed.”
It was a frustrating fact for a player that actually played a full 82 games for the first time in his NHL career.
“A little bit, there were times where I thought (the speed) was, but again, with ourselves, with anything, with injuries, there are a lot of excuses that could have been had this year,” Seguin said. “And at the end, all you can say is those were excuses, so as far as that I’m looking forward to a long offseason here and coming back 110 percent.”
Straight forward speed is one thing, the quick stopping and starting is another element Seguin was missing from his game this season.
Patrick Sharp, who dealt with his own injury and eventually had season-ending hip surgery, addressed the importance of the “quick-step quickness” inside the game at exit interviews.
“You can look fast and feel good in the game, but the quick stopping and starting is where it really hurts and you slow down,” Sharp said. “It can make you feel slow. It’s frustrating and it’s something that you really can’t feel 100 percent until you have that back.”
While Sharp was addressing his own injury, it’s a concept that perfectly applies to Seguin. And a long off-season could allow Seguin to return to top form after he’s seen his point totals drop in each of the past four seasons with Dallas.
And Seguin wants to be part of something in Dallas. This season was a humbling experience and it’s something he’s going to take with him into the offseason.
“This was my fourth year, I thought really from day one in Dallas there was something we were building. And I think this year, we took a little bit of a step back,” Seguin said. “You can’t say let’s forget this year. We want to remember this year and get back to how we were playing and where we were and get even better.”
“I do think at times to win you have to lose, you have to feel this. But I’ve never gone through the frustration and the grind of what this year was,” Seguin added. “We were just trying to play catch-up from day one from losing early on to personally being injured in training camp, there was just a lot going on this year that I hadn’t dealt with before, but in the end, I think that’s going to make myself grow, make the whole team grow. There’s a learning curve for what went on this year and a lot of motivation to be gained in this offseason.”
Seguin’s offseason could include a trip to the IIHF World Championships at the end of the month. But he said he hasn’t made a decision on whether he’d join Team Canada yet.
“I think I’ll have a talk with Jim (Nill) before I take off here,” Seguin said. “We’ll talk about that and in the end, I’m going to do what’s best for myself and my body, what’s going to make me the best for next year. I’ll have that talk.”
No matter the final answer on World Championships, Seguin’s health will be a key for the Stars as they start to focus on the 2017-18 season.
Seguin is an elite talent, that’s undeniable, and next season could be one of his best if the Achilles is finally back to 100 percent.