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<strong>Following the heavily publicized rumors that the St. Louis Blues were targetting Morrow for a trade, GM Joe Nieuwendyk came out to Mike Heika from the Dallas Morning News by saying...</strong>
<blockquote>“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.”</blockquote>
So that is all shored up, right? Not so much. It sounds like a GM being ambiguous. You know how this works, the more obvious and up front a GM is being, the more vague and mysterious they are <strong>actually</strong> being. I still think a trade that involves Morrow is highly possible. As I've maintained since the Ott trade, I just don't see where Morrow fits in now that he has proven he isn't actually a 30 goal scoring power forward. Especially not in the current roster.
Wait... wait a second... what's that? Derek Roy is having a surgery that will keep him out until sometime around November? He was playing with a nagging shoulder issue last year? The Stars knew about the injury before they traded for him? Well, I'll be filled with confusion and despair. Looks like there might be some room for Morrow after all, since someone is going to have to play up a line until Roy gets back. So, maybe the trade is officially off - hell maybe it was only off the table because they knew about the impending surgery.
But, what about once Roy is back and lets assume for a moment and hope against fate that there is a long period during the season where there aren't many injuries. Then where does Morrow fit in? First let's assume that the top 6 forward group is pretty well set in stone and will look something like this when healthy...
<li>Eriksson - Benn - Jagr</li>
<li>Whitney - Roy - Ryder</li>
That is a pretty damn good top 2 lines, first of all. But that is beside the point... here are the bottom lines if no rookies are inserted into the line up as was promised by management. These are considering that Toby Petersen signed a 2-way deal and will likely start his year off in Austin with the AHL Stars unless there is a concern with depth moving into the season after training camp.
<li>Nystrom - Fiddler - <strong>Morrow</strong></li>
<li>??? - Wandell - ???</li>
As you can see there is plenty of room down there - it seems that he may be dropped into a third line checking role by default whether he or the management want to or not. You certainly don't drop down Benn, Eriksson or Ryder at any rate. Sure, you play him on the second unit power play - but past that his obvious role is on the third line. Then of course you have<strong> Cody Eakin</strong> that came over in the <strong>Ribeiro</strong> trade as well as <strong>Thomas Vincour</strong> who spent a large portion of his season with Dallas last year and <strong>Ryan Garbutt</strong> who is also in that boat. You go with what Joe has said about rookies and you can also imagine that <strong>Matt Fraser</strong> is going to get a shot this year out of camp and possibly Alex Chaisson if what we hear about him from development camp is true.
The worries that people have about the young kids not getting a chance this year after begging for that to happen all off-season so far are unmerited clearly - the holes in the bottom six are substantial. But back to Morrow - the question is his health obviously. But for me, the question that is even more imposing is a question of leadership. People tend to forget amidst this huge change in the guard that Morrow ended the season wearing a C on his chest. He was also able to lead by example when he failed to do so in the locker room. Does he still have the ability to drag the team out of a lull with tenacity and grit? Or is the Brendan Morrow we saw last year when he was actually able to play the Morrow of the future? I don't expect him to reach the 30 goal plateau again, ever. But if he could reach the 20 goal plateau then you have something to work with. That's a sign that he is healthy again. That his injuries were temporary and were in fact the reason for his reduced level of play.
And even if he IS able to perform, should he remain the captain? Or should someone who represents the new direction be given the C?
<h3>So, we've asked a lot of questions and posed a lot of theories. But what is the answer - or rather, what is <strong>my</strong> answer?</h3>
I think keeping Morrow for one year is the smartest thing that the Stars could do. And I think that for one reason and one reason alone - Jamie Benn + Jaromir Jagr. Jamie Benn has a personallity, in fact if you have seen him being candid the kid is downright charismatic. And from what we saw on the bench last year, he is obviously a guy who can lead. But how do you drag all of that out of him in front of the media, in front of the players, in front of the coaches and then mold it into a form of leadership worthy of the "C"? It seems to me that if the role of Jagr is in fact to mold young stars into super stars and reach their true potential by supplementing his experience into their games... Then it would be an excellent idea to give Morrow a year of stop-gap (a common thread in this years Stars direction) for general leadership until Benn has been given a year with Jagr. It may or may not work, maybe Benn is just too timid a guy; the gentle giant that he seems. But this seems like the perfect set of circumstances to test that theory out. Other than Benn, who is really captain material after all? Robidas is about as close as you can get, but his time in Dallas could be as short as Morrow's. In fact, Robidas becomes immediately expendable if any of the rookie defenders such as Dillon break out this season.
<strong>In the end, I expected to see Morrow moved. But maybe it is for the best that we see the General Manager showing some steadfast faith in number 10's role on the "new" Dallas Stars.</strong>