For Episode 12 of our 2013 Summer with the Stars off-season feature, we travel back to Cedar Park Center for an in-house guest. Texas Stars broadcaster Owen Newkirk interviewed center Travis Morin, who is back in town to settle his family prior to going to the Dallas Stars training camp. Below are just some of the highlights of our conversation with the Stars forward, along with a link to the full audio interview.
Listen: Part 1 - CLICK HERE.
Listen: Part 2 - CLICK HERE.
Are you down here earlier than usual because of being a family man, you had to alter your travel plans a bit?
Yeah, we’re just trying to get the family settled here. My son’s going to be in pre-school and we have to figure out where he’s going to go for that. We’re just trying to get all that stuff squared away so when the season starts we’re not kind of scrambling and we can focus on hockey.
Your two-year contract with Dallas expired this summer. What was your thought process and decision making that went into you signing another two-year two-way deal with the Stars?
I think I play best when I’m comfortable and going somewhere new, it usually takes me a little while to get comfortable with things. I think the way I’m going to play my best is to stay somewhere that I’m comfortable, knowing that I still have a bit of a shot to get up there [Dallas]. I know a lot of the guys that are up there now and that’s obviously going to help if I do get up there or when I go to training camp, just like I’m saying being comfortable is big for me. So I think I’ll play my best. Whereas if I went somewhere else it would take me a little while and I might not play very well at the beginning because I’m taking my time to get comfortable or feeling my way through the locker room. At the same time, my wife and I both like it down here. If this is where we end up for the two years and we don’t ever make it up to Dallas, we really like Cedar Park and the Austin area and we’re very happy to live here.
You made your NHL debut on January 26, 2011 in Dallas against the Edmonton Oilers. Given your path from Minnesota high school hockey to college to the ECHL to the AHL, it had to be very satisfying to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
Yeah, it was obviously a dream come true. When I was in South Carolina, there was a time when I didn’t even know if I’d ever get a real shot in the AHL and then Texas gave me a chance and Dallas obviously gave me a chance to go up and play a few games up there. It was nice, they let me start that game, which was probably a good thing just to get on the ice and get it out of the way right away, I think that probably helped a bit. I was playing with some guys that made it a little easier, a couple veterans. It was obviously a great experience.
Of course you will be trying to make the NHL roster, but even if you don’t, will having a full season be more intriguing to you and other Texas players in terms of earning a call-up?
Yeah, when you get 82 games up there, they are banging every night and injuries are bound to happen. Sometimes you can get a string of them and guys that don’t expect to be called up might have to get called up. You obviously don’t want to see people get hurt, and I don’t wish that upon anyone up there, but it’s going to happen and if for whatever reason they feel that I’m doing a good enough job down here and they want to give me a chance then that will be great, I’ll be ready. And if not we’ll just continue trucking away down here.
Will you miss playing with Matt Fraser, particularly on the power play?
Yeah, it’s something where he could one-time a puck like nobody else on our team. He could get [the shot] off and he could get it off hard and it was accurate. It was easy for me to just put the puck into spots for him to get his shot off and especially on the power play. It was something that other teams had to concern themselves with, which in turn could open up other options.
You are typically very soft-spoken, particularly in public and in interviews – you offer great things, but perhaps in a different style than someone like Luke Gazdic. However, your teammates have told me that you’re one of the first guys to speak up when something has to be said in the locker room. Have you always been that kind of a player?
Yeah, I don’t like to talk a lot. Hopefully when I do say something, guys will take notice and take it to heart. I try to lead more by example than the rah-rah speaks and stuff. I’ll definitely try to say something on the bench or in the locker room when I feel like it needs to be said.
On a lighter note, you and Jack Campbell were targeted during a practice last year and each took a whipped cream pie to the face in celebration of your birthdays. Jack seemed to take it a little better than you did that day.
[Smiles] Oh I’m fine with that. It was good. When you get guys around each other every day of the week for multiple hours upon hours, you’re going to have guys that come up with things, pranks and such, especially when you’re on the road and staying in hotels. I’m fine with that, I try to stay out of it [laughs] just because when you start giving it you’re going to get it and sometimes you don’t want to mess with that. So I try to stay out of it for the most part, but it’s all in good fun.
Last week Mike Hedden said that it’s not worth going back at Max Fortunus, because he’s only going to open up a level that he thought might be out-of-bounds or against the rules and it just gets worse and worse. Have you seen anyone in your career that rivals Max in terms of his pranking abilities?
No. Max takes it to a whole other level. [Smiles] He’s always on the prowl, looking for something, some way to get somebody. So you want to stay on his good side.
With all the time you’ve spent here and all the records you have with the franchise, are the Texas Stars more special to you than simply just the team you’re playing for right now?
Yeah. I’m pretty loyal when it comes to it. Even when I was in South Carolina my second year, I wasn’t really getting any chances to go up to Hershey and my agent called and said, “we could get you loaned out to an AHL team.” I’d been in South Carolina probably for a little over half a season and I was like, “I don’t think I want to, this is my team.” I feel like this is kind of my home now [Texas] and it would take a lot to pry me away from that. So when you talk about the contracts and things, there may be an opportunity elsewhere, but there’s still an opportunity here and this has kind of become my home away from home, I guess. It’s hard to leave that when you’ve been here as long as I have and kind of set yourself in the club’s history there and you’ve been there from the beginning. It’s hard to leave that when you’ve been here for so long.
You made your AHL debut with the Hershey Bears on November 7, 2007 at Norfolk. How interesting, especially since you talk about loyalty, that you make the 2010 Calder Cup Finals with the Stars and you face the team with which you played your first AHL game.
Yeah, that was a bit ironic, I guess. The icing on the cake is that was when I scored to win the game in Game 2 with pretty much 40 seconds left or whatever. It felt good at the time; obviously we would have liked it to turn out a little different in the end. But it was a little ironic that that’s who we were playing. Although, of the team’s out east, Hershey’s always in the mix, they’re always reloading and they’re usually contending out there every year. So it wasn’t as much of a surprise that they really made it as much as it was maybe that we made it.
I know you were so close to winning the Calder Cup, but winning the 2009 Kelly Cup with South Carolina has to be near the top of the list of your hockey accomplishments. How much fun was it to be part of that team and win the championship?
It was pretty cool. I played junior hockey for a year and then four years of college where my team wasn’t that great. In our college conference we had a three-game playoff at the end of the season to go to our final five or whatever to try to make it to the NCAA tournament and we never got out of the first three games. So it had been a while since I’d had any success like that. It was obviously nice. Those two runs down in South Carolina were awesome and winning it all was obviously a lot of fun. It wasn’t a lot of fun traveling from South Carolina to Alaska, especially when we could have won it in Game 5 at home and lost in double overtime and then had to travel however long that ended up taking, three planes.
It’s easier to get to Abbotsford, isn’t it…?
Yeah it is. [Laughs] So it made it a little bit sweeter, though, to go into Game 7 up there [Alaska] and end up winning it all. We had a really good time with it. We ended up renting a beach house for a few days after the season with all the guys and hung out there. We had the cup on the beach and stuff like that. It was a lot of fun!
-- Texas Stars --