Friday, April 18, 2014

Texas Stars Center Travis Morin Named AHL MVP

Travis Morin scores against Chicago. He has 87 total points now.
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The American Hockey League announced this afternoon that Texas Stars center Travis Morin has been named the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the league's most valuable player. Travis Morin has led the league in scoring from the outset of the season, scoring 32 goals and 55 assists to total 87 points. The next closest player in the league has just 72 points.

"I couldn't have imagined this. It's obviously an honor," said Morin. "It's not something you really expect to start the year. There was a lot of hard work put into it and a lot of credit goes to my teammates as well."

Morin is the first Texas Star to win the league's MVP award and only the second to be given an individual end-of-season award. Linemate Curtis McKenzie was awarded the Rookie of the Year trophy earlier this week. It is the first time the MVP award has been given to a Western Conference player since Jason Krog picked up the honors in 2008.

Morin has been the pivot man on the best line and best power play in the league all season. Centering first team AHL All-Star Colton Sceviour and rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, the three totaled 90 goals and 124 assists. Much of that work was done on the power play. The top line combined with Chris Mueller and defenseman Maxime Fortunus to create the best power play in the league. Morin tallied 10 power play goals and 31 assists, second in the league.

"Obviously the power play was a big part of my success and the team's success. We were going at 30% early in the year. It was five guys all on the same page who can put the puck in the net when they need to."

Since joining the team on a PTO in 2009, Morin has become an integral part of the Texas Stars offense. He worked his way from tryout player to best in the league, earning an NHL contract with the Dallas Stars along the way. He is one of just two remaining players from that original squad and is signed for another year with the Dallas. He earned his first NHL point this season in a game against the Calgary Flames.

Travis Morin on the bench
(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Morin seemingly exudes an easy confidence and finds solid chemistry with whomever he centers. Two years ago, he was the engine behind Matt Fraser's breakout season for Texas. Last year that continued with the addition of Colton Sceviour. Curtis McKenzie slid right in to keep the line going this season.

"It probably helped not having Fraser here," Morin joked. "I looked to shoot more. Pucks just found their way in. You can't focus on one guy to slow us down though. We're all looking to go into the corners and go to the net. Obviously I couldn't have done it without everyone in there."

The fifth-year Star ranks at or near the top of the list in most offensive categories for the franchise. He leads in all-time points (291) and assists (192). He is tied with Sceviour for the franchise lead in goals at 99 each. He is second to Sceviour in all-time games played, just five short of the lead at 342 games.

You can read more about Morin's journey to the Texas Stars in the feature I wrote about him for the league back in December.

AHL Commissioner Dave Andrews will be in town to present a number of awards to the Texas Stars tomorrow night, including the Cunningham Award. Morin commented that the last time he got this sort of recognition was being named the Metro Hockey player of the year in Minnesota.

"I beat out my buddy David Backes, and I was on the sports page of the Star-Tribune," Morin said, laughing. "This is nice, it's a little bit better."

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today that center Travis Morin has been voted the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL's most valuable player for the 2013-14 season.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league's 30 cities.

Since notching four points on opening night, Morin has been the American Hockey League's leading scorer wire-to-wire in 2013-14 and has 32 goals and 55 assists for 87 points with a plus-16 rating in 65 games with Texas heading into the final weekend of the regular season. Leading the offense for the regular-season champion Stars, Morin has nearly doubled his 44-point output from a year ago while setting franchise records for assists and points in a season. The CCM/AHL Player of the Month in both October and January, Morin began the season on a 10-game scoring streak and has gone without a point in consecutive games on just four occasions all year. He took part in the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic in February and was named a 2013-14 First Team AHL All-Star last week.

A seventh-year pro from Brooklyn Park, Minn., Morin has also appeared in four games with the Dallas Stars this season, picking up an assist for his first career NHL point. In 349 career AHL games with Texas and Hershey, Morin has totaled 99 goals and 196 assists for 295 points, and he is the Stars franchise's all-time leader in goals (99), assists (195), points (294) in 344 contests with the club.

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