It’s a common rumor now in the NHL. Rick Nash is going somewhere eventually, Roberto Luongo is likely to end up back in Florida, and teams are interested in Brenden Morrow. The captain of the Dallas Stars is in the middle of many rumors and constant buzz, and has been since about this time last year. The 33-year old winger has been the ideal captain and face of the franchise in recent years, and it isn’t hard to see why many competing teams would want to acquire the power-forward. He can score, he can check, he can kill penalties, and no one doubts his heart.
But Morrow’s impressive career has been rocky recently, to put it lightly. After only playing 18 games in 2008-2009 after the Stars’ last playoff run the season before, Morrow fought his way back for a career-high 33 goals in 2010-2011. But last season Morrow again missed time with multiple injuries, only posting 26 goals in the 57 games he did dress for. And when Brenden was in the lineup, he didn’t look the same. Uncharacteristic penalties, a missing step in his stride, and an overall game that looked close to half the man many Dallas fans had come to love. In the midst of all of this, the rumors only increased and even the fanbase started to question the future for the captain.
Was he worth keeping? Does he have more in the tank, and if he does can his body even hold up? Were his days in Dallas numbered? Should the Stars just trade him, pick a new captain, and go into a full rebuild? While many (including myself) pointed out that he just wasn’t the same on the ice, none us were able to see what was happening off the ice and behind the closed doors. Through it all Joe Nieuwendyk didn’t move the leader, holding onto him through the trading deadline and again through the draft last month.
Then the buzz kicked up again last week. The St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers were both reportedly interested in him, with the rumors becoming so big that newspapers and media writers in St. Louis were reporting about the possibility of a deal and that the Blues were very interested in him. But GM Joe held his ground again, saying:
“We had a good talk the other day, and I told him I very much believe there’s a place for him on this team. I told him I fully expect him to be out there on the power play in front of the net where he’s always been.”
Most of the fanbase rejoiced, some complained. But at the end of the day Nieuwendyk did the right thing. He stated what he plans to do, let everyone know, and made the decision now. If Dallas was going to move another key part of the team and their recent history after moving Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro this summer, the needed to do it quickly. With the team heading in a new direction and new faces coming in to mix with the young talent they are trying to grow, the Stars couldn’t afford a drawn-out saga. Either move the captain and get the house cleaning over with immediately to start moving forward, or decide against it and make sure everyone knows that Morrow will be a part of the team this fall.
With a team in transition, a franchise trying to rebuild a fanbase, and a team needing leadership, they couldn’t afford something strung out and tumultuous. And if you would force me to sit in Joe’s chair and make the call, I would have done the same thing. Morrow hasn’t been the same, but he still is the type of leader that even as a 3rd liner can make a difference. Plus, who is your new captain? Jamie Benn isn’t ready and some people can’t see that. He is a stud, but he is still learning how to be a big force and growing into his recent success. Stephane Robidas is tough, a team player, and a possible choice. But Robidas like Morrow might be out of Dallas soon, and is starting to run out of time physically. And of course now Steve Ott is in Buffalo.
If Morrow returns to form this season, then Dallas resigns him and give hims a chance to pass the torch forward. If things don’t work out or it becomes clear that he physically can’t come back from everything he has been through, then the two sides move forward from there as his contract expires. But if the Stars needed to keep one person here for at least this season and make it apparent that they plan to do it, Morrow was the one. But trading the captain as well could have alienated many fans and put a dark cloud around the team heading into the season. At the end of the day, Morrow at least deserves to be given the chance to try and prove what he can do. Because he has done so much for this team, is it too much to ask to give him on final season?