Over the next month, Defending Big D will be counting down the most important "impact" players for the upcoming season for the Dallas Stars. Starting from the player we believe will have the smallest influence on this season to the player with the most, we'll countdown from #23 all the way to the top as we get ready for what we hope will be a very promising season.
For the second time in three seasons, Brenden Morrow will be tasked not only with trying to adjust to a new system as a player, he'll also be tasked with the unofficial title of liaison between new coach Greg Gulutzan and the rest of the Stars team. Such is the life of an NHL captain.
And if there's one thing Morrow's always been able to be during his career, it's that he's a very good foot soldier with nary a disparaging word publicly about anyone, be it a teammate or coach. Hell, not even Sean Avery's off ice antics in his short tenure with the Stars could pull Morrow offside.
That kind of character trait combined with Morrow's gritty game should make for a relatively easy transition on the player side. But Morrow's task as team captain entering this season will be a bit different from what he's face in previous seasons mentoring some of the younger players coming up.
More after the jump.
This offseason, Joe Nieuwendyk signed a plethora of veterans to help offset the loss of Brad Richards. And while such veteran leadership normally would be counted upon to help transition the younger players to the new coaching staff, that won't be the case here where Gulutzan spent the last two years coaching the Stars' top minor league affiliates.
If anything, it'll be on some of the younger players hoping to crack the Stars lineup this year to help the newly signed free agents to help acclimate the vets when training camp opens. Course, those players will be more focused on the former than the latter.
Which means Morrow's job as captain gets handled a little differently this year once training camp opens. Which, again, is where the good soldier mentality will help.
On the ice, Morrow's offensive style meshes with just about any style any coach wants to run. Last season, he posted a career high 33 goals under Marc Crawford.
His next best season? His last full season under Dave Tippett in 2008 when potted 32.
Defensively, I think, is where the biggest transition will occur. We've gone to great lengths explaining how Crawford's system probably put a little too much pressure on the blue line corps by stressing an up tempo philosophy. When the puck didn't get moved up to the forwards and was turned over, they got in some trouble.
That won't happen under Gulutzan. By all accounts, he preaches a dedicated two way game for his entire team. Which means more forwards are going to have to come back to help out the defensemen in the neutral zone if they want to play under him. So expect to see plenty of leading by example by the captain here.
And considering Tippett preached the same system here and preaches it in Phoenix, that shouldn't be too hard a transition for Morrow.