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The Stars’ Durable Quartet

by Steve Hunt / Dallas Stars

Injuries are a fact of life in any sport and the National Hockey League is no different. With all the hits and puck shots a player can take throughout an 82-game regular season, it’s almost inevitable that a player will miss one, two or even more contests during a given year.



But for four members of the Dallas Stars, Trevor Daley, Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro, their durability has helped define their value in 2010-11 as they are the only four players who have skated in all 69 games to date for head coach Marc Crawford.

And it’s clear that the Stars coach is glad to have such a durable veteran quartet.

“They’re three of our leaders on the team. Both Ott and Morrow are captains and assistant captains,” Crawford said of his trio of forwards who haven't missed a game.

Daley is in his eighth season and has played all 82 games once before, back in the 2007-08 season. He comes off a 2009-10 campaign where he played in 77 for the Stars. So, why has he been so durable so far this year?

“I don’t know,” the Dallas defenseman admitted. “Brenden, Otter and Ribeiro play a lot tougher game than I play. They take a lot more liberty on their bodies than I do but it just goes with anything, staying healthy, getting a little bit of luck and just battling through.”

Earlier this year, Daley got a well-deserved contract extension, which was largely a function of him taking on a larger leadership role on this year’s team.

“Trevor’s really taken a step in a leadership role with the team. I think he’s found that he’s got more ownership of the group this year,” Crawford said. “He’s gone from being the young defenseman that everybody is waiting for to now being a focal player on our club.”

The Stars head coach also has a theory on why Daley has been so durable this year.

“Trevor is a guy that he skates so well much like [Alex] Goligoski,” Crawford said. “They’re both efficient skaters. When you skate like that, you’re able to maybe have the games not take as much of a toll on you as players that don’t skate with the fluidness that both of those guys do.”

Morrow currently leads the Stars with 26 goals and could be looking at playing in every regular season game for the third time in his career should he go the distance. The Dallas captain has also played in 81 games twice in his 11-year career.

Like Daley and the other members of this group, he attributes his durability so far this year to a combination of several factors.

“It’s all those things. I think luck’s definitely got to be on your side, especially the way that we play,” Morrow said. “As physical as we are, the body takes a toll with as physical as it is. There definitely has to be a lot of luck on your side.”

Ninth-year center Ott leads the Stars in hits with 210 and in penalty minutes with 166. So considering he plays such a hard-nosed style, it’s not surprising that he’s only played every game once, back in 2007-08. However, he did play 81 in 2005-06.

Still, considering the number of games he’s missed throughout his career, it’s hard to blame him for being superstitious when he was asked about his durability this year.

“I’ve missed enough games in my career, so you want to continue to try to put them together and stay as healthy as you can,” Ott said. “That’s probably the goal but when you’ve missed so much, you probably become superstitious. You want to stay in the lineup and hate talking about it. It’s not fun to talk about.”

As for the fourth member of this quartet, Ribeiro, he has a track record of being very durable during his first 11 seasons in the league. The current Stars’ leader in assists with 44, he played all 82 games back in 2008-09 and has also played 81 twice in his career.

The veteran center has a simple formula for keeping himself on the ice.

“Trying not to get hit, that’s one. I try to be smart around all those big guys,” Ribeiro said. “I usually play my 80 games a year. There’s always small stuff that you have through the year, but I’ve always said if I can skate then I’ll play. There are a lot of things that I get during the year but it doesn’t keep me from playing. I’ve been lucky and I’d like to keep it like that.”





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