Saturday, September 30, 2006

Modano relieved of captain's role

Stars' Left Wing Morrow earns Captain's 'C'- By MIKE HEIKA / The Dallas Morning News

FRISCO – Stars officials said naming Brenden Morrow captain Friday was all about "passing the torch," not about lighting a torch under the team

Morrow, 27, receives the honor after bypassing free agency next year to sign a six-year contract extension that will keep him in Dallas through the 2012-13 season. Former captain Mike Modano, 36, loses the designation with three years remaining on his contract.

Modano, who will serve as an alternate captain with Sergei Zubov, said he was asked to step down. He said he did so because he felt it was best for the team and the organization. He admitted he's disappointed but is ready to move forward.

"They approached me over the course of the summer and said it had been in the back of their mind, and we finally settled on something the other day," Modano said. "It's a changing-of-the-guard kind of thing. It's the future for [Morrow] and the future for a lot of the guys who are going to be around here."

General manager Doug Armstrong and coach Dave Tippett said the move was not a reflection on Modano, who Armstrong said is still the face of the franchise. It simply was the perfect time to elevate Morrow.

"If we only had him for the one year, we wouldn't have done this," Armstrong said of Morrow. "With Brenden's age and the commitment he's made to this organization, he's going to be able to pull this team together for a number of years moving forward."

Tippett acknowledged concern for how Modano will react to this. He said that they've talked for months and will continue to do so.

"I know that he is passionate about this team and adamant in demanding the best out of it and himself," Tippett said. "Mike is still a very important leader for us."

Hockey people have projected Morrow as an NHL captain for years. He was captain of his junior team and quickly elevated himself to alternate captain on the Stars.

"He exemplifies some of the things we want to be known for," Armstrong said. "He's a hard-nosed player. He competes every night. He just has leadership qualities. People gravitate to him, and we think his teammates are going to follow him."

Armstrong added this isn't just a move to energize the team after another first-round playoff loss.

"This isn't based on one season. It's based on the long-term direction of where we want to go," he said. "One of the positives is he's going to have Mike and Sergei around him for the foreseeable future."

Armstrong said the move is also aimed at putting more responsibility on players such as Steve Ott, Jussi Jokinen and Trevor Daley.

"The younger generation has to step up and take their share of the responsibility," Armstrong said. "They can't just continually wait on Mike and Sergei and Jere [Lehtinen] to do it all."

Tippett said the captaincy is a bigger deal in hockey than in other sports, but he added that one person can't lead the team.

"Ultimately at the end of the day, it's about the group together," Tippett said. "One guy might have a 'C' on, but it's how well does the group co-exist together."

Morrow said he will lean heavily on Modano and other team leaders but admitted the promotion is a big deal to him.

"For a farm boy from Saskatchewan ... it's a real honor and privilege," he said.

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