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'All heart': Letter won't change how Comeau plays, leads

Veteran forward calls the opportunity to serve as an alternate captain during Stars road games 'a great honor'

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

FRISCO, Texas -- Blake Comeau doesn't need a letter to lead.

But he's happy to get one.

When the Stars coaching staff decided during the All-Star break that it would expand its captaincy group by two, the easy choices to add were Comeau and Esa Lindell. Lindell leads the Stars in time on ice and was called a team "MVP" candidate by interim coach Rick Bowness this week. And Comeau, well, he just oozes "play the right way."

"Blake plays a very hard, passionate game, and that's what you want from your leaders," Bowness said when he announced the decision. "His game doesn't change, it's all heart and it's all passion."

Video: DAL@NYR: Comeau snaps puck by Lundqvist

The Stars have had a rotating group of alternate captains in the past, but decided last season to go with just captain Jamie Benn and alternate captains Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg. With Bowness taking over as interim head coach in December, he decided having more "captains" was a good idea. So Seguin and Lindell will wear "A's" at home and Comeau and Klingberg will wear them on the road.

It's an important decision for Comeau, he said, but also one that really doesn't change what he does day to day.

 

[RELATED: From life in juniors to being dressing room DJ, get to know Blake Comeau]

 

"For me to be added to the rotation, it's a great honor, but it's not going to change who I am or how I play," Comeau said. "We have a great locker room and I think there are several players who lead whether they have (a letter) or not."

Comeau was definitely one of those players, which makes this weekend the perfect picture of how he leans on consistency. The Stars play at home against Minnesota Friday and Comeau won't be wearing a letter. They play Saturday in a huge divisional game against St. Louis, and he will. He will try to be the exact same player in both games.

Video: DAL@LAK: Comeau snipes puck in off iron for lead

"I mean, I definitely think we want consistency, so that's what you work for," he said. "We want to be our best every night."

Comeau said he likes the way the Stars are trending right now. Young players like Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz are starting to improve their defensive play, while veteran players like Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski are starting to improve their offensive play. That's a great sign for a team that hopes to balance the two-way game.

"There are things we can do better, and we talk about that all of the time," Comeau said. "We can spend more time in the O-zone, we can hold onto pucks more, we can get our D more active, break out of our zone cleaner with more speed, those are things that help. We're trying to build some line chemistry, and I think we're seeing that at different times. We feel we have the defensive base here, and we just need to build on that."

"I really think we're improving as a team and we can get even better," he added. "The plan hopefully is to have four lines that can check and four lines that can produce, and I think we're moving toward that."


It's also nice when you have depth in the leadership department. The Stars are a veteran-laden team and players like Pavelski and Perry were significant leaders on their previous teams. So as they improve on the ice, they also are helping the now five-man leadership group behind the scenes.

"We feel like we're growing as a team, no question," Comeau said. "It's nice to see Joe get on the board or Perrs get on the board. These are guys who put a lot of pressure on themselves, so to see them get that and see them feeling more comfortable, that's great. I've changed teams, and it's not easy. It takes time to fit in and find your place, so I think that's a great sign for them and for us."

They are leaders who can lead without a letter, which is exactly what Comeau has been, so he knows exactly how important everyone is to the mix.

"We've got a lot of leaders in this room, and letters don't change how you operate or how you play," Seguin said. "It's nice spreading it out sometimes."

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, and listen to his podcast.

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