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Q & A With Marc Crawford

by Staff Writer / Dallas Stars

Marc Crawford is enjoying a bit of a renaissance.

Spending last season behind a microphone instead of a bench, the Stars head coach had time to reflect on his career and, perhaps, change a few things.

“I’m approaching this one in a much different way, mostly because being off for a year forced me to look at myself and evaluate strengths I may have,” Crawford said. “With that in mind, I think I’m really poised to kind of let things unfold a little bit more here than to be that daunting, forceful type guy I was in Los Angeles.”

Crawford has spent these past few weeks getting the Stars ready for the season, one they hope erases the bad memories left from the 2008-09 campaign. A few weeks ago, Crawford talked about the task facing the Stars, the changes he and the team will go through, and the prognosis.

Was the self-evaluation you went through last season valuable?

Well, (being out of coaching) is not something I want to go through again. I like coaching, I like being involved with a team. It is humbling to go through it, especially when your desire is, ‘I know I can do this, give me an opportunity to do this.’ (The evaluation) is valuable because I don’t think without the pain that you get the introspection that I personally needed. So in a lot of ways, maybe that’s similar to what the team is going through. Maybe the pain of last year, missing the playoffs, especially after such a successful year the year before, really did serve as a huge wakeup call to a very good character group of people.

A lot of players were back early this year, weeks before training camp began. What does that say about them?

You’ve got a renewed focus on the group. I don’t think that can be anything but positive for the team. Individually and collectively, I think they all sense there’s a heightened level of responsibility right now. When you get that, you usually have good teams.

What different things will you be implementing?

There’ll be some subtle changes. Every coach has nuances different from others, but don’t suspect dramatic changes. You’ll probably see some differences in maybe our puck possession and ability to make plays and the way we try to encourage supplementing the attack. But the strength of the Stars is the way they pursue the puck, their work ethic, the way they defend as forwards and as a group. It’s always been a great skating club and I hope that continues to be a strong trademark of the team. The attention to structure speaks to everyone’s heightened awareness again. Hopefully that’ll come a little bit more apparent.

Will there be any changes to the workouts?

One of the differences is we’ll do a lot more flush rides as part of the structure we want to put in place as a coaching staff. It’s to get the most recovery for our team, because recovery is so important in the Western Conference with the division in which we play. A lot of players do it on their own, but we’re going to institute a collective team flush and recovery agenda throughout the season.

Is all of this just part of the new structure?

We’ll try to utilize the recovery methodology to the best of our ability. The difference is just the adherence to the structure. That’s my responsibility to make sure there’s awareness and also adherence to it. Those two big A words, that’s the challenge. When times are tough, when times are good, there’s always a challenge. You’re either going to have some slippage or you’re going to find a way to ramp things up. There’s always that balance we’re all looking for, not just in sports but also in life. Hopefully we’ll do a good job of that.

Some have called Brenden Morrow the quintessential captain. Do you agree?

There’s a head pro scout for another team that talked about Brendan not too long ago, and he said, ‘He’s my favorite player in the league.’ You’ll find a lot with similar thoughts. He’s such a great competitor, but I’m looking forward to seeing his leadership skills front and center. When you’re missing a guy like that from your team, it’s huge. When you can have a top player in your lineup and he can play those minutes and give you all those elements in the room, his value is so much more appreciated considering where they were without him.

So what is the Stars’ potential?

Crawford: This is a group that obviously is more capable of being what they’ve been the previous 10 years than the group that slipped last year. There’s no guarantee that you’ll automatically return to that form, but I believe these Stars will be the Stars we’ve seen in the past. There’s a determination for that to happen. There’s a good byproduct of the struggles last year is younger guys got to play a lot. They learned some valuable and painful lessons the league teaches you. You’ll see a more patient (group of young players), a more professional element to them. All of that is going to be positive. The overriding factor is the group is committed and recommitted to be the Stars that people have come to expect.

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