FRISCO, Texas - The Dallas Stars and new head coach Marc Crawford each feel they have something to prove this year.
Each took the first step Saturday when the club opened 2009-10 training camp at their suburban practice facility with a full slate of meetings, fitness testing and other administrative issues, as well as an informal practice session.
Crawford, who spent a year in the broadcast booth after he was fired as coach of the Los Angeles Kings in 2008, takes over a Stars team that suffered several high-profile long-term injuries last season and eventually missed the playoffs for just the second time in 12 seasons.
"I'm excited to get started," said Crawford, who was hired by new Dallas General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk in June, replacing Dave Tippett. "It's been a year and a half since I've been in a practice. I'm probably more anxious than the players."
Just getting Stars captain Brenden Morrow, who scored 15 points in 18 games before tearing the ACL in his right knee last November, back on the ice should help improve the club's fortunes.
"I think everything physically is 100 (per cent)," said Morrow, who recorded a team-high nine goals to lead the Stars to the 2008 Western Conference Finals. "It might take a little while for me mentally to believe, but I'm capable of doing anything I want to do. I just try not to think about it. The more scrimmages I'm in, the more reaction drills I'm in where I don't think about it, the better I'll feel."
Marty Turco will be counted upon to rebound from an up-and-down year and deliver consistent, top-notch goaltending.
"I'm very excited to get back at it," said Turco, who posted a 2.81 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage last season, the worst numbers of his eight-season career.
"Despite last year's shortcomings, we still feel we have a great team here, capable of a lot better than that."
While Crawford is known to favour a more wide-open offensive style than the traditionally defensive-minded Stars have used, he doesn't think his system will be difficult for players to learn.
"Skating will be emphasized, speed will be emphasized," Crawford said. "We want the skating to show itself in areas like the backcheck, the transition game, and we're going to utilize our ability to skate with activating our defence maybe more than they have here in the past. I think the teams that do well are the teams that can play the game with pace, with tempo and that really utilize speed, and I believe that's how we'll be successful."