As the Stars continue to paw and claw for traction this season the absence of a fully healthy Brenden Morrow is not helping.
What team can just chug along without its captain?
The Minnesota Wild are in the same boat (and it's a tippy canoe). With their soul, Mikko Koivu injured they have appeared to be up a certain type of creek, and apparently he has the only paddle.
But back to Morrow, and his wonky back.
It's been eons since Brenden was 100% healthy. Maybe the start of the 2009-10 season is the closest, and that was on the heels of rehabbing his ACL surgery for the remainder of the 08-09 season and the following summer.
This season he's been a hollow shell of his former self, a facsimile. No longer able to be the alpha male in every corner and win every net front battle, he has appeared frustrated - which has led to penalties. And it has bothered him. He has felt like a bad teammate and leader when we all know he is the exact opposite. He used to be a pain to play against, now he's just in pain - constantly.
The Stars have missed his leadership. Not dressing room speeches or social co-ordinating but rather his style, drive, and passion. When healthy, Brenden invigorates the lineup, he changes momentum, he competes. He helps you win.
And they miss his statistical production too.
Morrow has always had this impressive fung shui like balance to his home and road production while others have been vastly better performers on home ice vs in enemy buildings.
Just think of where this team might be if he was able to perform to his usual standards, or even close to them; twenty-five to thirty goals, eight to ten goals on the powerplay. For a team struggling to score two a night lately and with a season-long anemia on the PP afflicting them, Brenden at 100% would surely help.
Can he get his back and neck maladies to settle enough to allow him to rejoin the playoff hunt? Maybe. But even so, what percentage of him will they be getting after a month out of uniform?
In the meantime, the reality is that without him there is a $4 million pothole in this team's
already budget-conscious payroll, and a gaping hole in the leadership department. Yes, the silver leaf lining is that in his absence others are getting an opportunity to expand their game, role, and their voice but that doesn't aid the urgency of the here and now.
A left winger stable that goes Eriksson, a healthy Morrow, and then Ott makes this team much more formidable. A powerplay with a strong, space-making Brenden Morrow in front of the net scores more. And the bottom line is; this team is a lot 'harder to play against', and thus defeat, with their captain leading the way.
If you need examples to jar your memory see the 2008 playoffs and the 2010 Olympic Games as refreshers. Which is what the Stars heart and soul needs right now, a total body refresher.