In some ways, Brenden Morrow has fallen a long way from the 2010-2011 season, when the Dallas Stars captain led the team with 33 goals.
Morrow was plagued with injuries during the 2011-2012 campaign and managed just 11 goals and 26 points in the 57 games he played. It was during this season when Morrow began to lose favor with fans, with many hoping for the veteran winger to be traded at the deadline.
After an extended lockout that allowed him to properly recuperate from his various ailments, Brenden Morrow began the abbreviated season as a player with a different role. Relegated to the third line, Morrow had just one assist through the first four games. After a number of injuries caused significant juggling in the Stars lineup near the end of January, one might expect that Morrow would see an increase in playing time and responsibility. That turned out not to be the case.
Morrow found himself in an entirely unfamiliar place; a winger on the fourth line. The captain played four games with ice time below and just above ten minutes. Impressively, he understood his role and embraced it. It was likely this positive attitude in the face of adversity that earned Morrow a chance at redemption.
When Ray Whitney headed to the IR with a broken foot on February 2, Morrow was promoted to the first line to play alongside Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr. After biding his time in the bottom six for the first eight games of the season, Morrow now had the opportunity to show he still belonged in the top six.
In the four games since, the Stars have a 3-1 record, winning three straight. Brenden Morrow has points in three straight games, including his first goal of the season. Moreover, his line with Benn and Jagr is proving to be the most dangerous and consistent line for the Dallas Stars. The success is more than just a coincidence.
The Stars are an ever-changing work in progress, but with a steady first line featuring perhaps the three most important leaders on the team finding success, the effect has reverberated throughout the entire lineup.
But despite this renewed success, it’s becoming increasingly evident that this could very well be Brenden Morrow’s last season with the Dallas Stars. If Morrow continues this level of play, he could become an enticing trade deadline target for a team looking to add veteran leadership and secondary scoring for a Stanley Cup run.
Last season, Morrow’s name was thrown around as a deadline target, but his injury issues and lack of production likely brought down his value. If he can return to form, general manager Joe Nieuwendyk should be willing to pull the trigger on the right deal.
Furthermore, this is the last year of Morrow’s contract, and the odds of him being re-signed by the Stars are slim to none. With an influx of prospects making their mark in the NHL and the fact that Jamie Benn is quite obviously being groomed for the captaincy, the Brenden Morrow era is clearly coming to an end.
Whether he’s moved at the deadline or let go in free agency, Morrow has served as the penultimate example of what a captain should be on and off the ice. When he leaves this franchise, he’ll be remembered as one of the best to ever wear the Star. Until then, Brenden Morrow will continue to play in whatever role is called for, always putting the team before himself.
Andrew Monrreal covered the Dallas Stars for The Hockey Writers and previously covered the Dallas Stars for the FanSided Network.