Brenden Morrow used to stay in the Dallas area just about the entire year, but now he and his family have a summer getaway spot in northern Idaho.
“I had a friend that had a place there, we visited and loved it,” Morrow said.
Now, Morrow and his family have a place there. They’ve spent the couple summers in the area, where the temperature averages in the mid-80’s and the skies are usually clear.
“It is right next to a lake. We ended up falling in love with it and it works for us,” said Morrow. “It’s up on a hill and overlooking the lake. It’s a three-minute drive to the water. You can do whatever you want on the water, so it’s good.”
Morrow has never been much of a “water guy,” but now that’s changed. And when it comes to change, Morrow’s seen a lot of it during his time with the Dallas Stars. And this summer the theme around the team was change of the significant variety.
“We’ve been kind of sputtering around and battling for a playoff spot,” Morrow said. “We want to improve and be a Stanley Cup-contending team. Changes are going to have to be made and you just hope they are the right ones.”
The signings of forwards Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney via free agency give the Stars two top six forwards who bring proven track records and a load of veteran experience. The 33-year-old Dallas captain joked that the addition of the two 40-year-olds had him feeling like a kid.
“I got young again, for one,” Morrow said with a smile and then added: “We got a couple of veteran guys whose numbers obviously speak for themselves. Whitney is a good character guy, and he’s going to be great in the locker room with veteran presence and great leadership. I don’t know much about Jaromir other than his on-ice accomplishments. Not much needs to be said about that. He’s a Hall-of-Famer, a Hart Trophy winner. He’s been re-energized the last couple years and you see how excited he is to be on the ice playing and practicing. That’s going to make for a fun year.”
The not-so-fun part was seeing longtime teammates Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro depart the team via trade. The Stars sent Ott to Buffalo in the deal that brought Derek Roy to Dallas, and Ribeiro went to Washington in the trade that made Cody Eakin a Star.
“Steve Ott, a good friend and teammate you battled with over the years leaving is never easy, but you get a good guy in return. When Derek is healthy, we are going to be a tough team throughout the lineup,” Morrow said. “’Ribs’ and I had good chemistry for five years or so. It’s always tough no matter who it is. We’ve been through it before with Mike (Modano) and (Marty) Turco. It’s never easy. You just hope it improves the team.”
And it’s never easy to hear your name tossed around in the trade rumor mill. Morrow was the subject of trade rumors early in July. It wasn’t the first time. His name popped up in the rumor mill just prior to last season’s trade deadline as well. There was nothing to the rumors, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
“It’s something I really hadn’t been through until last season, but I live in the real world and I know how things happen,” Morrow said. “I’ve seen it before with friends and teammates. I am no different than them. I’ll just deal with them as they come.
“All I can do is prepare to be the best player that I can for this team. If that fit doesn’t work out, then I am still going to be doing the same thing for somebody else. How it affects me hasn’t really changed how I prepare for a season.”
And Morrow is looking for a bounce-back season. Last season was a rough one, as he was slowed by neck and back issues that limited him to 57 games, 11 goals and 15 assists. Rehab on the neck and back began late last season, and offseason workouts have him feeling positive on the health front.
“The body feels good. I’ve been training the way I have for the previous three or four years before I got hurt. I feel strong and I’m looking forward to getting started,” Morrow said. “I did most of my rehab at the end of the season and then it just kind of turns into habit, things I need to do to stay strong every day. Those things just became habits. On top of that, I just trained how I had prior to being injured. Mentally I feel strong, and that’s part of it, too.”
Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan said he likes what he has seen of the captain this summer, and added he believes the Stars can get a big impact from Morrow, who had a career-high 33 goals in 2010-11.
“He’s a huge part of the team, he’s our captain. The biggest part for Brenden, for me, is that he is feeling healthy,” said Gulutzan. “I looked at him this summer and he’s trained really hard and he’s got some specific feedback from very credible doctors, and how he should be training and how he should be looking out for himself. He’s had a great summer. If you look at him, he looks like a truck so I think he’s ready to go.
“Brenden has always been a presence in our locker room and on the ice. He gives us grit and determination, and he’s been our best net-presence guy for years. I think that is where he earns his money is in the hard areas. With his health being back the way it is, I think he is going to be a force.”