The Dallas Stars have a fairly long list of players who solidified their place in team history by stepping up in the playoffs, from lower line players like Mike Keane and Guy Carbonneau to high-end talent such as Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour.
And for the decade of the 2000s, the player whose name came up the most in that category was former Stars captain Brenden Morrow.
Morrow played in 78 career playoff games with the Stars, putting up 17 goals and 25 assists along the way. The 0.54 points-per-game average was slightly below his career average with Dallas (though it should be noted scoring in general is often muted in playoff series as teams try and clamp down defensively), but as the stage became bigger, he became more impactful.
The greatest example of that is obviously the 2008 run to the Western Conference finals, where Morrow had nine goals and 15 points in the Stars' 18 games. Two of the goals were game winners, including the series-clincher in overtime against the San Jose Sharks. And when the Stars went to the Finals when Morrow was a rookie, he contributed six points in 21 games while playing a chunk of those on a broken ankle.
So the natural question, then, is: who can be the Stars' next Morrow in the playoffs - the player who steps up when everything is on the line?
On the day he announced his retirement from the NHL, Morrow was asked if there were any players he played with along the way that reminded him of a young, well, him.
"I would have liked to say Jamie Benn, but there was no Art Ross Trophy in my start," Morrow told Defending Big D.
"I became a huge fan of Jamie with his early years here in Dallas, and I think I still am his biggest fan. He just plays the game the right way and a little bit of old school hockey to him, but a heck of a lot of skill as well."
Benn's playoff experience is limited, but everything about his six games against the Anaheim Ducks in 2014 is impressive. Benn had four goals and five points in six games, a 50.9 percent face off percentage when called upon, and all-world possession statistics with 60.1 percent of the shot attempts while sporting an unlucky PDO of 98.4.
He is obviously a slightly different player, as Morrow said; a more offensively-gifted power forward playing in an era and on a team that likely maximizes his skill set.
But he also has the obvious drive that possessed Morrow in the post-season. Benn is a player who thrives when the competition gets intense, something he's proved from the junior level on. Whenever the stakes get high, whether that's an international tournament like the Olympics, a playoff stage or even when his teammates have turned to his individual production to give meaning to some final regular season games, Benn elevates his level of play.
That is what the Stars are counting on as they transition from underdog and "playing with house money" in 2014 to a heavy favorite this time around. It's a new role for the team, one they seemed to struggle with in the first part of the 2016 calendar year, and comes with a different type of pressure than many in the group may be used to.
Sure, they will rely on the veteran presence of players like Patrick Sharp, Jason Spezza and Johnny Oduya, all of whom have made deep playoff runs on their own, to guide the group through this new challenge. But there is no doubt Benn is the head of the dragon, the pointy end of the stick. This incarnation of the Dallas Stars goes where he leads them.
And it's that fact that makes the comparison to Morrow so much more compelling and Morrow's praise that much more meaningful.
"He's one guy I'll turn the TV on to watch, as dominant as he can be from where he began, from his first year in Dallas to where he is now," Morrow said about Benn. "I know I wasn't the one that got him there, but hopefully a little bit, a piece of me rubbed off and helped him along the way."
If that piece of Morrow was his playoff performance, the Stars will be in good shape.