Apr 07, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Stars left wing Brenden Morrow (10) during the game against the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center. The Blues won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

Brenden Morrow: A Leader by Example

When you look at a leader you want someone who can guide you and help you mature from a young rookie to a savvy veteran. Well, the Dallas Stars have several veteran leaders on their team such as the recently signed Ray Whitney, Jaromir Jagr and second year forward Vernon Fiddler to help Brenden Morrow, the current captain, with the leadership. Fans of the Dallas Stars are hoping to see this leadership go to work but being locked out it’s kind of hard to see it.

However, we are questioned as the lockout’s still ongoing. That fact combined with what we saw last season makes it no surprise that Morrow’s evolving from a young healthy forward to an aging veteran who might have a few years left in his career. As we look at Morrow’s career, we first saw him as a young rookie who was looking to make it. Little did we know that when the Stars were looking to win another Stanley Cup after winning it in 1999, Morrow showed the Stars why he deserved to be on the team and not in the minors. He even played through a broken bone in the playoffs, earning respect.

But what kind of captain is Morrow to the fans and the Stars? Morrow is a quiet leader who leads by example so it’s no wonder former GM, Doug Armstrong, named Morrow captain of the Stars before the 2006-2007 season began. Armstrong even told the news that he’s considered a quality player that goes out every night and exemplifies what they wanted their opponents to view the Dallas Stars to be. A hard-nosed, gritty team that never gives up on either side of the ice as Morrow showed with his unwillingness to quit when the times get tough.

Morrow is the kind of leader most players look up to and many teams have a hard time finding a weakness in. He’s also the type of guy who brings heart and passion to the Stars who need it and his dedication to win a Stanley Cup. He refuses to give up and will play in pain in order to win a championship. He’d take that over achieving personal goals. He plays with his heart, leads by example and never quits when things are hard.

Morrow, however, gives the Stars grit. He’s 5-11, 205 pounds with average speed. He rarely makes spectacular plays, instead bringing substance and determination. He understands that he must sacrifice his body to get close enough to the net to score though because he doesn’t have the skills to complete an end-to-end rush. Morrow, 29, is also elevating his play. He’s added scoring and passing to a game built around physical play and intensity – and he’s turning heads across the league.

He’s gritty, not afraid to get a little dirty and one of the most impressive leaders I can think of. He leads by example. I don’t know what he says in the locker room but he’s a captain that will give 195 percent night after night and expects his teammates to do the same. He’s not a franchise player just because he’s the captain – he’s a franchise player because without his presence the team would suffer.

Morrow’s the one player many young kids look up to and want to be. I mean look at him during the 2008 playoffs…he played better than Chris Pronger in the first round against the Anaheim Ducks, played better than Joe Thornton in the second round against the San Jose Sharks and played through the pain of a bad groin as well as a partial tear in his left shoulder during the third round against the Detroit Red Wings. He has grown into the player many knew he was going to be. Personally, I believe he should be compared to Steve Yzerman, the former captain of the Red Wings.

The video below was shot during the magical 2008 playoff run where the Stars eventually bowed out to the Red Wings. This was from Game 6, a game that went four overtimes, against the San Jose Sharks when Morrow scored his game-winning goal.

Remember that series against the Colorado Avalanche during the first round of the 2006 playoffs when he took a bad penalty and the Stars eventually lost to the Avalanche in 5 games? That series helped Morrow emerge into a leader as he did something that many players would not do. He demonstrated his leadership away from the ice by taking the heat. In a world where it seems easier to make the decision to run and hide when circumstances around us don’t go our way he held himself accountable, waiting for the media to come in the locker room. Fighting tears nearly on their way to his cheeks back he answered tough question after tough question, all the while doing it with class, integrity and conviction. Sure, fans and the coaching staff were upset by the penalty but they should never be upset with how he handles himself following mistakes.

Also, when the Stars played against the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2007 playoffs Morrow publicly challenged his teammates, saying too many of them refused to sacrifice their bodies and go to the tough areas of the ice to get the puck or score a goal.  He then scored a power play goal in overtime off a deflected shot to beat Vancouver 1-0, extending the series. The Stars lost the series in seven games but Morrow proved he wasn’t afraid to embrace the moment and handle the pressure that accompanies the playoffs. That’s what type of player Morrow is and why he’s captain of the Dallas Stars.

Now, as his career’s winding down we look back at his triumphs and defeats as a player and captain but we also saw him mature into a better player with the ability to lead and step up at the right time.

As we look back at the past two seasons and wonder what happened to Morrow we should realize that he was playing through injuries. Injuries that limited him but he played through them and wasn’t on top of his game. Instead of continuing to play through the injuries he decided to take himself out of the game to heal. Last year was a tough one for Morrow. He battled injuries, mainly back and neck issues. It was hard for Stars fans to see their captain injured. However, will the lockout help Morrow heal from the injuries? If the lockout ends quickly we may see it. But for right now, we’re not sure.

As of right now, Morrow is the captain of the Dallas Stars and will continue to lead his team until his body tells him he should stop or he decides to hang up the skates. If you’re looking for a leader to lead your team to a Stanley Cup, Brenden Morrow is your answer.

Follow me on Twitter- @missyndallas

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Tags: Brenden Morrow Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars Detroit Red Wings Doug Armstrong Jaromi Jagr Joe Thornton NHL Ray Whitney San Jose Sharks Steve Yzerman Vancouver Canucks Vernon Fiddler

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