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Former players' advice to Stars: 'Don't be afraid of the moment'

Amid the pageantry and pressure of Game 7, Dallas legends like Morrow and Turco say it's best to enjoy it and have fun

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Even with years of reflection looking back, a few former Stars say the advice they received when playing big games rings true now.

"Just enjoy it," said former Stars captain Brenden Morrow. "If I could tell them anything, it's don't be afraid of the moment, don't think about losing, just go out and play your hardest and have fun."

 

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Morrow played in two Stanley Cup Finals (one with the Stars and one with the Tampa Bay Lightning) and in a handful of Game 7s. He said while time makes those games more important in your memory, you can't get wrapped up in the importance during the game.

"It really is just another game when you get on the ice, and so you have to play that way," he said. "Keep it simple, stupid. Go out and only think about winning and making the play that will win the game. If you do that, I think you're fine looking back."

Former teammate and good friend Marty Turco embraces the same philosophy. Turco's only Game 7 was a 4-1 loss at Vancouver in 2007. Turco won three games by shutout in that series. He finished with a 1.30 GAA and .952 save percentage, the best ever in NHL history for a goalie who lost a series.

Video: Stars emphasizing smart hockey heading into Game 7

"My only Game 7 is a bad memory, so it's tough to talk about a little, but you go out and play your best, and I think I did that," said Turco. "I think that's the best I've ever felt on the ice was in that's series…it's as close as I've ever felt to invincible. But I think that teaches you the lesson of how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup. I mean, it's really hard to win."

Former Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig won two Stanley Cups, in 1986 with the Canadiens and in 1999 with the Stars. Ludwig played in 177 playoff games and said that helped him get perspective on games like Tuesday's.

"It's one step in the process," Ludwig said. "Yes, it's a big one, but if you win it, you still have lot more games to go. So I would look at this as just another game, and prepare that way. It's a great opportunity, so go out there and look at it like that."

The Stars Tuesday morning were embracing the same philosophy.

"Your job is to prepare yourself and get yourself ready. Then, the excitement takes care of itself," said veteran forward Jason Spezza. "These are games that are fun to play in."

Video: Stars embracing opportunity in deciding Game 7

While captain Jamie Benn echoed that sentiment.

"We prepare like it's any other game, but we all know what's at stake," Benn said. "Every little play matters out there, so that raises up the intensity. It should be fun."

Turco said that looking back, he can break down what happened on each goal that was scored against, so it does reinforce the idea that every play matters.

"You just look back and sometimes the most nothing play turns into something huge," Turco said. "I think that sticks in your head. Every single play has the potential of changing the game, and so it gets amplified when the game is bigger."

So ... play like it's any other game, but know that it's much bigger in retrospect? Well, yes and no. Of course, watching a Game 7 for a franchise that you're following closely brings back memories, but fans are different than players.

Video: Legends pass torch to championship-hungry Stars

"I definitely think games like this make you miss it a little more," said Morrow, who has been in attendance for several of the playoff games. "It makes you think about things."

Like in 2003 when the Stars were the top seed in the Western Conference and lost in the second round to Anaheim. That was a year when the path to the Stanley Cup Final was wide open -- kind of like this season.

But that's getting way ahead of things.

"I kind of look at it now like, there will be plenty of time to look back on your career, so don't worry about it," said Turco, who will be in the building Tuesday.

"Go out and play hard, and have fun, and do your best. If you do that, you'll be fine."

For complete postseason coverage, visit Stars Playoff Central.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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