|After suffering a career-threatening injury last season, Stars captain Brenden Morrow is now healthy and has proven to be Dallas' steadiest player. Morrow video|
”Three months is a long time,” Morrow told NHL.com.
Especially for a player who was just getting used to everything that comes with wearing hockey’s infamous “C.” Not being around his guys in the dressing room or on the ice turned into one of the biggest challenges Morrow had ever faced.
“You don’t really feel like you’re part of the team,” Morrow added.
He is now. That much has been quite obvious this season in Dallas.
It’s been more than a full year since Morrow severed two tendons in his right wrist against Chicago, but he has regained nearly full mobility in his wrist as well as his form on the ice, and his role as the leader of a locker room already filled with veterans.
Now 47 games into this season, Morrow has proven to be Dallas’ steadiest player, exactly what an NHL captain should be.
“He really took a step last year with everything from his game to the captaincy,” Stars coach Dave Tippett said. “I thought the injury pushed him back a little bit, but this year he’s continuing to blossom. We rely on him a ton.”
Morrow said rehabbing his sliced wrist was extraordinarily difficult after undergoing successful surgery the night of the injury.
“I don’t think people realized how tough it was on him,” Stars goalie Marty Turco said on dallasstars.com. “It’s not easy for anybody to be out that long, but it was especially difficult on him.”
The only way to get through the torture was to go to work, so Morrow met with a hand therapist at least once every day, and sometimes twice, to the point where he now has all of the strength and roughly 98 percent of the mobility back in his wrist.
“I don’t see any lingering effects,” Stars co-General Manager Les Jackson said of Morrow, who returned for the final 12 games of last season and registered six goals and five assists. “His game is right on top.”
Morrow was already a top line winger before his injury, but he appears to have upped the ante with the offense he’s putting out this season.
With 42 points through the first 47 games of the season, Morrow is only one away from reaching his career average of 43 points per season. He’s also on pace for career highs in goals, assists, points, power play goals, and shots on goal.
“Everybody always knew he had offensive abilities,” Tippett said, “but this year you can see it’s on a more consistent basis.”
“Year by year he’s gotten better because he’s figured out what he can and can’t do,” Stars veteran Mike Modano said. “But you have to stick with the foundation of what got you here and he’s a go-to-the-net, hard kind of guy who takes the body and feeds off a lot of other guys who are making plays.”
Such as Mike Ribeiro, who centers Morrow on the Stars’ top line.
|Morrow is willing to do the grunt work that may not show up on the score sheet, but has helped the Stars surge toward the top of the Western Conference standings.
Ribeiro is a special playmaker, and Morrow is a guy who does the grunt work. Together they’ve formed quite a combo, combining for 91 points as the Stars have surged toward the top of the Western Conference standings despite some early season doldrums.
“A perfect case of opposites attract because it takes skill to make plays and it takes skill to score, and they have both,” Tippett said of Morrow and Ribeiro. “Ribs is a guy that draws people to him. His skill allows him the uncanny ability to hold the puck to allow Brenden to get to those areas where he can shoot. They feed off of everybody’s style and it meshes into a really good pair.”
“He’s so gifted that he makes those plays through sticks, through skates,” Morrow added. “My job is pretty simple: Just drive to the net, play physical, and he’ll find me.”
That Morrow continues to play that hard, fearless style is a credit to his toughness, especially after the wrist injury. He’s only 5-foot-11 and he weighs 210 pounds, but he goes into areas where he’s normally outsized and outmuscled.
No, he doesn’t drive to the net with his wrists held out in front of him, but at times he’ll end up buried on the ice and vulnerable. Morrow, though, doesn’t care one bit. It is how he’s always played the game.
“I’m willing to battle and compete,” Morrow said. “If they’re going to go one inch, I’m going to go two.”
“He’s a hard player to play against,” Jackson said. “I’m sure if you ask all the opponents he’s a guy they have to watch because he’s going to make you pay the price.”
This season, it’s happening on a more frequent basis.
“Every year I’ve felt more comfortable and have been given different responsibilities,” Morrow said. “I don’t think there is one thing now the coaches won’t trust me to do.”
“Without a doubt,” Turco added, “it’s his team.”
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com.