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Minus Morrow, Stars still focused on playoffs

Mar 25, 2013, 4:44 PM EST

Jamie Benn

Just because the Dallas Stars traded their heart-and-soul captain doesn’t mean they’re giving up on the season.

At least, that’s what general manager Joe Nieuwendyk hopes.

Nieuwendyk addressed his team this morning and told them the fact Brenden Morrow is now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins shouldn’t change their goals.

“The guys are focused,” Nieuwendyk said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I talked to them this morning because it is a big deal when you move your captain (but) this doesn’t change our mindset at all of making the playoffs. We wanted to get that on the table. I think the guys are really focused and I said that to them that, in a way, this brings the team closer together. When you lose a player that has meant so much to the organization, you all have to step up, you all have to come together and I expect them to do that.”

At the risk of understating his importance to the franchise, Morrow’s on-ice role with the Stars this season wasn’t what it used to be. The 34-year-old was ninth in team scoring when he left, with 11 points in 29 games. Meanwhile, he was averaging just 14:55 of playing time per game, down significantly from his career high of 21:21 in 2008-09.

As for the intangible leadership qualities that Morrow brought, there’s certainly no shortage of veterans — Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney, and Erik Cole are but three — to fill the void.

Then there are the young guys that will be expected to step up, like 23-year-old Jamie Benn.

“It just gives us a chance to maybe talk a little more, maybe pick up some slack,” said Benn.

The Stars head into tonight’s home game versus Minnesota in eighth spot in the Western Conference, one point up on San Jose, which holds a game in hand.

Related: Derek Roy, trade bait

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