Top 20 Dallas Stars Players, #4: Brenden Morrow

Mar 30, 2012; Vancouver, British Columbia,CANADA; Dallas Stars forward Brenden Morrow (10) during the warm up against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-US PRESSWIRE

Overview: Brenden Morrow was drafted No. 25 overall in the 1997 NHL entry draft, one pick from the end of the first round back then, after a standout season with the Portland WinterHawks. Since then, he's filled up the record-books as one of the Stars mainstays at wing. Since his NHL debut in 1999, Morrow has scored 237 goals, added 280 assists and picked up 1,185 penalty minutes in 806 games.

Why He's On The List: Since making an almost-immediate jump to the NHL on one of the league's best teams - the defending Stanley Cup champion Dallas Stars - he's become a mainstay and team captain. While he might have finished two wins short of becoming a champion himself, he's still the sixth-longest tenured player in franchise history, eighth in goals scored, 10th in assists, eighth in career points and fourth in penalty minutes. He's even third in career plus/minus. Combine that production with his five-year captaincy, and he easily earns a spot near the top of this list.

Brenden Morrow burst onto the NHL scene at age 21 with the defending Stanley Cup champions, and it was clear right away what type of player be would be. He scored 14 goals and added 81 penalty minutes during his rookie season and was a key part of the Stars run back to the Stanley Cup Finals against the New Jersey Devils.

During that Finals run, in a bloodbath of a Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Avalanche, Morrow broke his right ankle but only missed two games.

That type of grit has characterized Morrow's entire career. While he was never the smoothest skater, the best defender, the hardest shooter or the slickest puckhandler on the team, his willingness to battle in front of the net (and often away from it) and his nose for the puck were almost always unmatched.

During seasons in which he played at least 60 games, Morrow has never scored fewer than 14 goals, and he has seven seasons of 20 goals or more. His best season was his first as team captain - a terrific 2007-08 campaign where he scored a career high 32 goals and 74 points with 105 penalty minutes and added nine goals and 15 points in 22 playoff games as the Stars made it back to the Western Conference Finals.

The downside of his career has definitely been an injury bug. His two season-ending injuries were of the freak-accident nature - a skate to the back of the wrist that knocked him out for the 2006-07 season, and he tore his ACL in 2008-09. And a chronic back/neck/shoulder injury severely limited his performance last year.

But there's a tendency for those recent injuries - and the fact that the Stars as a team have struggled to make the playoffs while working their way out of the shadow of Tom Hicks - to overshadow what a great player Morrow has been. He was a 20-goal, 100-penalty minute player for five of six seasons, the only exception cut short by his wrist injury, and he missed a shot at another similar season because of the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

He's also the first Dallas-drafted player to serve as team captain, and the first player Stars fans really got to watch turn from a draft pick into rookie phenom and from young NHL scorer to grizzled team captain. Derian Hatcher and Mike Modano were drafted by and debuted with the Minnesota North Stars. That does nothing to diminish their fabulous accomplishments, but there is something special about a fanbase when they get to see the whole process, from the draft on. Morrow is the first player where Stars fans can really claim that.

This is a kid who was drafted as a high-scoring but undersized winger with a weight problem and has turned into a player who scored possibly the most memorable individual goal of the post-2004 lockout era.

This:

Turned into this:

Who also did this:

Really, is there any more a fan can ask for from a home-grown player than that?

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