Alex Petrovic's Perseverance Paying Off in Playoff Push

(Credit: Ross Bonander/Texas Stars)

April 24th, 2016.

It was the last time that Alex Petrovic laced up the skates for an NHL playoff game. The Florida Panthers faced elimination at the hands of the New York Islanders. Petrovic was plus-1 with 27:40 of ice time.

It would be a winding road back.

After two more full seasons in Florida, Petrovic was traded to Edmonton then spent the next four seasons in the AHL without a single NHL game to his name. He got a single NHL regular season this year for Dallas when injuries pressed him into service and was later called up after Texas' season ended in the first round of the AHL playoffs.

Now, Petrovic heads to his hometown for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals as a lineup staple. With tonight's game, he will eclipse his previous single-season high for NHL playoff games played with seven.

"It feels good," said Petrovic of the experience and the opportunity he's had before Game 5 in Dallas. "Just having a family helps. It keeps you grounded, keeps you selfless. I got this opportunity now and I have to just grab it and take advantage of it."

Looking around the locker room, it was easy to see the influence that Texas had on the Dallas Stars. It was also easy to see the influence that Petrovic himself had had.

Petrovic talks with Mavrik Bourque at the bench during Bourque's ATO stint with Texas
(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

"It's been great to see Lian Bichsel here, Stankoven obviously and even Harley from previous years in Texas and Dellandrea as well.

"It shows you how well the scouting staff has been in finding great talent. The common theme is that they're all great character guys who work hard. They aren't coming in thinking they deserve anything. They earn it and it shows in their play."

Being where he is today is quite a testament for Petrovic's character and work ethic. The Edmonton, Alberta native passed 600 professional games at the end of last season and said at the time: "I’ve seen some guys that took a different approach in their final years and didn’t really give it their all. I think it’s really important. If I’m putting my best foot forward, showing [other players] that I care, showing up every day, pushing them and pushing myself, I think that definitely rubs off on other guys."

Reached on Friday by text, Texas Stars head coach Neil Graham called Petrovic a prime example of perseverance and always being ready. "He has helped develop teammates around himself while maintaining a drive to return to the NHL. He is adding positive contributions when he is in the lineup and I'm not shocked at all by his success."

If Dallas defender Chris Tanev had been unable to play in Game 5 on Friday, the Texas Stars' top pairing from the end of the season was ready to reunite in the NHL. Lian Bichsel had been told to be ready to play on a pairing with Petrovic. As much as Petrovic was able to reunite with familiar faces from the past few years of training camp when he was called, Petrovic was a friendly face for Bichsel when he was added to the mix.

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

"It's cool how it's come full circle and now we're back here with Dallas. I practice with him and work on things on the ice, and it's just like we're in Cedar Park. It's a little bigger stage obviously!"

No matter what comes, Petrovic has set himself up well for what's next. He's proven that he is still an effective NHL defenseman by always being ready for the call, and engaging a growth mindset and willingness to learn from anyone whether that be a coach, a team veteran or a rookie with a fresh, new outlook on something within the game.

"By helping them it's helped my game as well. It's helped me stay sharp and keep that youthfulness that these guys bring."

Dallas takes on Edmonton in Game 6 tonight at 7:00 PM CT. Edmonton leads the Western Conference Final series 3-2.