|(Credit: Logan Foust/Cory Matamoros)|
When Gavin Bayreuther made the decision to return to the Dallas organization, he had to consult with his wife and consider the effect a move would have on his two young daughters.
That should be enough to tell you that the defenseman, who signed a one-year, one-way deal with Dallas this summer, has matured since he left the organization.
"I'm much more consistent," Bayreuther told 100 Degree Hockey at Day 1 of training camp last week. "Much more confidence. Confidence is everything in the game of hockey. If you can just run with that, keep the confidence and make plays then you'll be okay."
The now 29 year-old defender joined Texas out of college as a free agent signing back in the spring of 2017. He had five points in 15 games before a breakout first year that culminated in a Calder Cup Finals run against Toronto. He had eight points in the playoffs, playing in all 22 games. After the 2020 season ended with the COVID shutdown, Bayreuther signed in Columbus, where he played over 100 games across three seasons including 51 last year.
"I thought I finished the year really well in Columbus, and Dallas came calling on a one-year deal and when I talked to my wife, it seemed like a no brainer. We absolutely loved it here in Texas.
|Bayreuther with Texas in March 2019 (Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)|
"When I was with Columbus, they were very good to me, but we didn't win as many games as Dallas. I'm just really excited to be a part of a winning culture, and the culture here is unbelievable. They have high expectations."
As a team that returns their defensive corps in tact year over year, Bayreuther is realistic about the chances of making his way onto the roster.
"There's eight guys on one ways, so it's tight. I know last year they didn't have many injuries, but I just know the business well enough to know that if you work hard and keep your nose to the grindstone, then your name will be called whether it's game one or game 80."
If Bayreuther does end up with the AHL squad, he'll feel right at home, especially with the coaching staff. Now the head coach, Texas' Neil Graham coached the defense for most of the time Bayreuther was first in Cedar Park.
"I love the people here. I remember having my  end of the year phone call with [Neil Graham] during COVID. And I told him that he made me really enjoy hockey again, and I'm forever grateful for that."
Either way, Bayreuther knows there's something special happening in the Lone Star state.
"Once playoffs started, I was rooting for Dallas. I turned the TV on every time they were playing whether it was 7 PM or 10 PM. I loved watching them. I love what they're doing, and I think they're right there. I'm really looking forward to it being a part of it somehow this year."