Call me crazy but watching Marty Turco in a Blackhawks uniform last night affected me more as a fan than watching Mike Modano's return with the Red Wings.
Don't get me wrong, Mike Modano in a Detroit Red Wing uniform is a more powerful image by itself, but his return, beyond the ovation, was largely uneventful with him seeing third line minutes and a little PP time. He didn't put a stamp on that game one way or the other and that subtly underlined the point of "going in a different reaction" this season as Joe Nieuwendyk chose to do.
Circumstances being what they are, the Brenden Morrow vs Marty Turco story was just more compelling for me personally.
Those two are best friends. They spent time together away from the game. They car-pooled. They roomed together. Their families were close. An image that has stuck with me over the last few years is that picture of the two of them putting their heads together at the conclusion of the game 7 loss in Vancouver in 2007. Morrow went to console his goaltender. It wasn't just Brenden's team. It was their team.
As the years wore on and the 1999 participants faded into obscurity, I came to think of the last era of Stars hockey as the "Morrow and Turco" era. Modano and Lehtinen were still there but these two were the faces that, for better or worse, defined that period of Stars hockey that included so many first round disappointments, even going back to the defeat by Anaheim in 2003.
I thought they would succeed or fail together throughout their entire careers, but things never work out the way you expect.
To see Brenden Morrow take the ice to start the shootout last night was about as odd of a feeling as I have ever had in that building...
The extra point up for grabs was so important to both teams that it dwarfed this sideshow melodrama but the sight of Morrow coming over the boards knocked me out of that mode and into "Wow, what's all this now???" for a moment.
(To borrow from the NBA, it was a lot like watching Dirk Nowitzki guarding Steve Nash those first few times after those two parted ways.)
The Captain had already scored a very typical Brenden Morrow type ugly goal on his beleaguered friend but this was different because Morrow is not often chosen for the shootout. By not often I mean almost never. This was a bit of manufactured intrigue, and boy did it deliver.
Turco was asked about his shootout strategy after the game: "If a guy has a great move, you certainly pay attention to it and maybe cheat in positioning your glove or something, but this, you just trust your instincts and I’ve always been like that. Other than Morrow’s where I knew where he was shooting, the other ones, you get beat you get beat."
Brenden thought he could sneak it through there.
Marty KNEW he was going to try and sneak it through there.
They might as well have started back to back and counted off fifty paces before turning around and drawing the pistols.
It was drama at it's finest and the tension was palpable in a building where just two days earlier there had been less than 10,000 for a (in comparison) boring Stars/Coyotes matchup.
The other ironic part of this is that Marty's last game in Dallas saw him the winner in an emotionally charged shootout. Not so much this time. This time he got smoked. When I stopped to think about it I really did almost feel a little bad for him. Almost.
What a far cry it was from the point in the first period when the Stars put "Thank you, Marty" up on the scoreboard and the crowd gave a half hearted ovation.
Half hearted, of course, because the scoreboard also said "2-0 Chicago". Marty got cheated there a little bit as that love fest would have been a little more tender had Stars fans not been reaching for the panic button at the time. I'm sure he didn't mind at the time. Watching his team capitulate in front of him in that building must have felt like old times later on.
Letting Marty Turco go was a move few questioned and most never will, but he rewrote the Stars record books, charmed us with his personality, revolutionized goaltender stick handling (which was interesting to watch from the other side last night) and gave the Stars a chance to win more often than not. For that we thank him. Well, that, and last night's comeback as well.
Oh, and remind me to thank Sergei Zubov for going to the KHL and not putting us through more of the same next time he's in Dallas.