BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — The North Stars are no longer in Traverse City, but soon one of their former standouts will be.
Kyle Jean, who played for the North Stars from 2008-10, will return to Traverse City with an NHL contract.
Jean signed a two-year entry contract with the New York Rangers on Thursday and will participate with his Rangers teammates in the September NHL Prospects Tournament at Centre ICE.
"It'll be interesting, just because I played there," Jean said. "It'll be a little homecoming."
The forward just finished his second year with Lake Superior State, where he had 12 goals and 24 points in 39 games. The 6-foot-4, 212-pounder showed enough to attract the attention of a Rangers scout.
"I've been in contact with a scout throughout the season with the Lakers," Jean said. "And he asked me if I wanted to go to their developmental camp, and I said, 'Sure.'"
"They're looking for big centermen. They want good puck possession skills. I scored a few goals there and I tried to play big and play physical."
He scored four goals in four scrimmages at the June 25-29 camp, and took a hit from 2010 first-round pick Dylan McIlrath that caused McIlrath to sit out for two days with a knee injury.
"When I went into it, I said to myself, 'Hey, I'm going to get a good experience and try to learn as much as I can,' and then at the end they offered me a contract and I was like, 'Whoa.' I never expected this to happen. I went there expecting to have some fun and learn as much as I could — and then this happened."
Ironically, he was traded to Traverse City from another Rangers team — Marquette — midway through the 2008 season. And now he'll be back at Centre ICE for the Prospects Tournament later this year as he starts his professional career.
"This is all new to me, so I hope to go there and make a good impression and play as well as I can and learn," Jean said.
A different camp starts this weekend as the Detroit Red Wings come to Traverse City for their developmental camp. Players report Saturday morning and have an on-ice workout from 2:30-3 p.m. that is open to the public and free of charge.
The camp goes through July 13, with a $5 admission per day.
Tuesday at the camp will be Bryan Rufenach Day, with a portion of all proceeds to benefit the Bryan Rufenach Memorial Fund. Rufenach was the Red Wings seventh-round draft pick in 2007 who was killed while traveling in Europe this year.
The event — which costs only $5 — begins at 4 p.m. Tuesday outside Centre ICE. Above The Garage will perform live at the event, while Red Wings Development Camp souvenirs will be sold to help benefit the fund. Former NHL players, along with members of both the Red Wings' and Grand Rapids Griffins' management teams and coaching staffs will be on hand to sign autographs, including Dallas Drake, Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer, Aaron Downey, Ken Holland, Jim Nill, Ryan Martin, Jim Bedard, Keith McKittrick, Jeff Blashill and Jim Paek, and an intra-sqaud scrimmage will be held at 7 p.m. that evening.