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Solid start for Begin

After turbulent season, forward finds his place

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / October 17, 2009

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DALLAS - Steve Begin’s time with the Stars was so short last season that he doubted he remembered how to get to his temporary Dallas home from American Airlines Center. Begin’s 20-game stint with the Stars, however, was good enough to make the Bruins sign him to a one-year contract July 1.

“So it was perfect,’’ Begin said with a smile. “Couldn’t have come out better. So it was good.’’

Begin, once so effective as a hard-nosed wing in Montreal, inexplicably found himself on the outs with then-coach Guy Carbonneau last season. On Feb. 26, the Canadiens traded Begin to Dallas for Doug Janik.

“I was expecting I’d be traded somewhere, but I had no clue where I was going to go,’’ said Begin.

At the time, the Stars - Dallas would finish 12th in the Western Conference last season - were in the middle of organization-wide changes. By then, the Sean Avery experiment was over. Captain Brenden Morrow was out for the year following knee surgery. Marty Turco was struggling through one of his most ineffective seasons. Coach Dave Tippett would be fired. Co-general manager Brett Hull would also hit the road.

Amid all the upheaval, all Begin wanted was to find the game he’d lost in Montreal.

“It got better than it was in Montreal,’’ said Begin, who often skated with Krys Barch on an energy line. “I was playing more. I was getting my confidence back. It’s all about confidence in hockey.

“Even if you work hard but have no confidence, it’s tough to play. Everything you do seems hard and not going your way. But I was only here for 20 games. I tried to bring something good to the team. They liked what they’d seen, but the GM changed. The GM didn’t know what was going to happen.’’

So far as a Bruin, Begin has been his old self, playing without reservation and anchoring what has been the team’s best line. He did not have a point in last night’s 3-0 win over the Stars, but has four assists in six games.

Stars are out
The dastardly Steve Ott, at the center of last year’s Boston-Dallas fireworks, was placed on injured reserve yesterday with an oblique injury. Also sidelined were Mike Modano (rib) and Jere Lehtinen (abdominal muscle) . . . The Stars lost Nicklas Grossman for most of the second period when the defenseman was hit in the face by a Mark Recchi shot. Grossman returned in the third period and played a total of 12:37 . . . Dennis Wideman (shoulder) sat out his second straight game . . . Two years ago, Milan Lucic made his NHL debut at American Airlines Center after making the team out of training camp. Lucic, wearing No. 62, played 6:53 while skating alongside Shawn Thornton and Glen Metropolit. Lucic got in his first NHL scrap (Brad Winchester) that night, but his most significant memory of the game took place a day earlier, when the Bruins’ charter flight left Hanscom Field six hours late because of a mechanical issue. “Don’t think we got in until 2:30,’’ recalled Lucic. “No team dinner. Nothing.’’ . . . Lucic, dropped to the second line last night, landed a team-high five hits in 12:23 of ice time, looking more like his rough-and-tumble self . . . Former Bruin Alex Auld, who is 1-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .913 save percentage as Turco’s backup, said he’s still getting used to Dallas’s travel schedule. When the Stars play West Coast teams, they often stay over until the following morning to counter the effects of the long flight and time change.

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