Johnson: The parallel worlds of Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla
Dallas, Calgary captains are both UFAs in July and both are hotly rumoured to be on the block ahead of NHL’s trade deadline
Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow is in much the same situation as Flames captain Jarome Iginla — on a team that’s not a lock to make the playoffs with an expiring contract at the end of this season. Trade rumours have been swirling around both.
Photograph by: Herald files/Getty Images, NHLI via Getty Images
DALLAS — The parallels are unavoidable. Both captains. Both highly respected. Both having come to symbolize the only organizations they have ever known. Both set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1st. Both holding the hammer of no-trade clauses, and therefore wielding a large measure of control. Both the subject of gathering barter speculation as April 3rd’s trade embargo hurtles towards us like a runaway freight train.
“Yeah, I see what you’re saying,” concedes Brenden Morrow politely. “I guess there are similarities.”
A small, self-deprecating smile.
“Minus a couple hundred goals, probably.”
Nearer 300, actually, But no one’s quibbling.
Jarome Iginla is 35, Brenden Morrow 34.
Monday night was Iginla’s 1,215th game in the NHL, Morrow’s 832nd. Iginla was drafted 11th overall by the Stars in 1995, Morrow 25th two years later.
Since marking their NHL debuts out of Kamloops and Portland, respectively, they’ve come to lead the franchises that became their homes. Iginla’s a richly-decorated 500-goal, 1,000-point man. Although Morrow recently slid alongside Jere Lehtinen and into a tie for second on the Dallas Stars’ all-time goal-scoring list (243), his value has always been as much about the intangibles, his tenacity, his willingness ‘take it on’, that visceral sense of indomitability, as production.
They’ve both long been viewed, in the vernacular, as ‘lifers.’
Well, life can play some funny tricks.
One or the other, maybe both, will agree to be ripped out of the womb as early as 16 days from now, maybe as late as July 1st. The startling $21.4 million, four-year deal the 36-year-old Shane Doan, a comparable in many respects, received to stay in Phoenix has set the bar for aging local icons.
Yet nothing, as they say, is forever. Circumstances change, even for the most familiar, the most loyal.
The emotional resonance of Iginla’s departure would doubtless be more profound inside his community, a hockey community. Besides, it’s Mike Modano who holds that sort of psychological sway in Dallas. Still, the Stars without Morrow funnelling to the net, throwing his 205 pounds as if they were 250, seems almost as unthinkable.
“I’ve said before in interviews that Jarome and Shane Doan are two of the classiest captains and representatives, not only as hockey players but as human beings that I know of in the league,” Morrow was saying Monday morning. “Just the way he handles himself: A real competitor, a warrior on the ice but a real classy guy off it.”
Funny, but he could’ve been speaking of himself.
Interestingly, there’s a very real chance they wind up affecting each other on the market, sharing many of the same characteristics that rival GMs trying to add that one component to an authentic title push covet. What may not be enough, hypothetically, to placate Flames GM Jay Feaster could be fine and dandy for his Dallas counterpart, Joe Nieuwendyk.
They’re linked together in the voracious trade gossip. NESN Nation reports that Iginla and Morrow are at the top of Boston Bruins’ fans wish list. The Chicago Blackhawks are also apparently interested in both.
The question for each is: What’s it going to take to broker a deal?
“For me, 13 years here.” mused Morrow. “For him, longer there. The blood and sweat you put in for the organization . . . it’s a lot. I don’t know exactly his situation. I know what I’m dealing with here. There’s no certainty for next year.
“Sometimes it’s difficult, hearing the rumours.
“The 60 minutes you play are the easiest. But it’s always in your mind, I guess. When you guys bring it up or mom calls or friends start talking about it, there is speculation out there. You do think about it. You try to get it out of your mind as best you can but it’s still there, all the same.
“Still, that isn’t what’s important right now. What’s important for me is trying to get this team — and for him, his team — into the playoffs.”
Neither, as it turns out, may get that chance.
Like Iginla, Morrow seems by now to be amenable, if not re-signed, to the distinct possibility of uprooting after so many years, so much history, of leaving ‘home.’ The hockey pundits here reckon there’s a 70 per cent chance he’ll be shuffled out by the deadline. Morrow may, naturally, be wearing the familiar ‘C’ these days, but there’s no disputing the Lone Star State’s team is being built around 23-year-old Jamie Benn now.
So he fully grasps the sensations Iginla is going through right now. Because, by circumstance, he happens to be living them, too.
“Every kid who plays hockey dreams of winning the Stanley Cup,” said Morrow. “Even when we get here, to the NHL, as great as everything is, it’s still all we think about.
“And when I dream of holding that Cup in the air, it’s always a Dallas Stars’ jersey that’s on my chest. Always. Doing that, accomplishing that, here.
“So until the situation changes, that’s the way my dream is.”
The other guy couldn’t have said it better himself.
George Johnson is the Herald’s sports columnist. E-mail him at email@example.com
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