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Puck Daddy chats with Loui Eriksson about Dallas Stars, success without Brad Richards, mandatory visors and Swedish BBQ

Jamie Benn(notes) claims that Loui Eriksson(notes), despite his rather quiet demeanor, is the funnier of the two Dallas Stars linemates. A comment here, a joke there; does he do impressions?

"Not really," said Benn. "Maybe as Frodo, because he's got bad hair."

The duo have thrived this season, exhibiting a chemistry that's led both to 15 points in the Stars' first 13 games, with Eriksson potting eight goals. That chemistry continues off the ice, where they hang out and dabble in video games. Benn told Defending Big D recently that he and Eriksson use practice mode on NHL 12 to work on 2-on-1 rushes.

The essential video game question for Eriksson: Is he happy with his digital avatar's abilities in the game?

"They could have made me a little bit better," he said.

Eriksson's off to a torrid start with Benn, which many fans wondered would be possible without star center Brad Richards(notes) dishing him pucks. We asked Eriksson about that, as well as about his goal scoring; the Stars' confidence at 10-3-0; mandatory visors; Brendan Shanahan(notes) as the czar of discipline; Texas BBQ; telling the Sedins apart and whether his love of the fantasy book genre ever led to him playing Dungeons and Dragons. Enjoy.

Q. The last two seasons have been fast starts for you. Is there anything behind that?

ERIKSSON: We've been playing really well, our line. Our whole team has been playing really well. Everything seems like it's going in right now.

You're on pace for 50 goals this season. Here's your chance to guarantee 50 goals.

[Laughs] I don't know about that. But it's going really well right now.

Are you surprised by how well Jamie Benn's played at center with you?

No, not really, He was so good for us last year too. He's strong with the puck, good all through the ice, has a really great shot.

So Brad Richards leaves for the New York Rangers, and there are people around the League wondering if your numbers will slip without him on the team. Was that something you used as motivation this year?

I heard it a couple of times. I did.

But I played pretty good the year he wasn't there. In his last couple of years here, I played really well. He helped me a lot; he's  a really good player to play with. We found good chemistry together. At the same time, things are going really right now, too. It's nice to have a feeling to come out on the ice and know that you're good at the things you do.

That said, did you want to prove people wrong this year who saw you as a product of Brad Richards?

Yeah, yeah, for sure. You always want to get better each year.

Last season started strong for you guys last year too, and it didn't work out in the end. Does that play on your mind now, or is that motivation now?

Everyone knows how tough it was last year, when we missed the playoffs by one game. Every game is so big now. You just keep doing like we're doing, but teams are starting to recognize that we're a good team now. It's going to take more to get the wins.

Puck Daddy chats with Loui Eriksson about Dallas Stars, success without Brad Richards, mandatory visors and Swedish BBQYou've been in Dallas for a bit now, and played before big crowds and played before some very small crowds recently. Is that uncomfortable?

Uh … yeah, it was a little bit tough when you're playing at home when the [Texas Rangers] were playing. No one … there's not many people there. But the crowds have been better the last couple games. It's also nice to go on the road too, playing in some big arenas with a lot of people.

It's still always home ice advantage when you're playing at home. You know all the fans there are cheering for you.

Do you know any Cowboys or Mavericks?

No. I've been to a couple of games though.

Where is the best BBQ in Dallas? Are you a BBQ guy?

Yeah, but mostly in the summer. Back home.

They have BBQ in Sweden?

Yeah, they do.

I thought you guys just ate fish.

We eat fish a lot too. But we have good steaks.

Speaking of Sweden: Can you tell the Sedins apart?

No, I can't. If you're with them a couple of days, you will recognize who is who.

But if they were standing right here now …

No, that would be tough.

They were at the All-Star Game last year, as were you. What was your favorite experience in Raleigh?

It was my first time [in the All-Star Game]. It was pretty cool to just be in it. Something you watched as a kid, and it was cool to be in it and play in it.

Were you at all concerned you'd be the last pick in the fantasy draft? (Eriksson was taken at No. 34, two picks before Phil Kessel(notes).)

[Laughs] I was kinda getting worried there for a bit. I was lucky I wasn't … it doesn't matter, though. He got the car.

You wear a visor. Where do you stand on the debate over whether they should be mandatory in the NHL?

If you want to wear it, you should. If you don't want to wear it, you don't have to. It's up to the guy who's wearing it. If someone doesn't want to wear it, that's [OK]. But it's better to have the visor on to protect your eyes.

How do you think Brendan Shanahan is working out so far as the new head of player safety?

Uh … it's a tough question. I don't watch it that much. There have been some suspensions this year where it's a tough thing to see, if the guy's not looking or if it's a blindside hit. It's a tough call to make.

You had that thing with Douglas Murray(notes) of the San Jose Sharks last year:

The ruling was that you put yourself in that position to be hit, so no suspension. That's a tough spot.

It is, especially when some players are bigger than others. If you look at that hit, it was a pretty good hit. I was reaching for the puck, and he hit me. And he's a pretty big man, which is why I probably got a concussion there.

Because there have been so many suspensions, has it affected the hitting at all out there?

Eh, I think it's good for the safety for the hockey to take those hits away. You don't want to go out and feel like you're going to get hurt every game.

A couple of quick ones: What music do you listen to?


What do you watch on the road? Movies? TV shows?

I'm watching a couple of shows, but I'm also reading. Reading a fantasy book.

Loui Eriksson … are you a sci-fi geek?

Ah, no. It's like "Lord of the Rings." I kind of like them. I read "The Hobbit" when I was younger.

Did you ever play Dungeons and Dragons when you were a kid?

I didn't, no.

What are you driving these days?

I drive a BMW M6. Bought it two years ago.

Finally, sir, the question we ask everybody: Your adult beverage of choice?

[Exhales] Hmmm … what do I drink? I'm a beer [guy]. Probably Carlsberg.

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