Stars' Ott tongue of a kind

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

DALLAS -- For a couple of months, they were a terrible twosome.

Steve Ott and Sean Avery of the NHL's Dallas Stars were driving opposing players crazy with their agitating ways.

But that's as far as Ott will allow anybody to compare him to the since-banished Avery.

"You get the agitator label, and you get lumped in, and I'm fine with that part," Ott said yesterday. "The problem I had is the off-ice antics. I'm not a guy that will ever challenge a guy off the ice. That's not me. On the ice, pretty much anything goes -- that's the playing field.

"But at the end of the day, you're putting on a Dallas Stars jersey. It's not a Steve Ott jersey or a Sean Avery jersey -- you're putting on a Stars jersey."

Avery may have stolen the headlines with his ways and absurdly large contract. Funny thing is, Ott is proving to be the better player.

He went into last night's clash with the Calgary Flames riding a career-best four-game point-scoring streak with three goals and three assists.

He's become an integral part of the Stars team that in two months climbed from last in the Western Conference into a playoff position.

He's proving those who years ago called him "Brenden Morrow in training" to be quite astute.

"Oh, I'm just trying to bring a quarter of what he brings on a nightly basis," Ott said of comparisons to the Stars captain who'll miss most of the season with a knee injury.

"You want to contribute on a nightly basis. Playing alongside Mike Ribeiro and Jere Lehtinen -- two of the best players on our team -- you'd better or you won't play there.

"I was always an offensive player growing up. You hate to bring up the past -- junior or all that -- but I always wanted to get to it at the NHL level. I've wanted to be an established guy that could be counted on offensively and physically. I think that's what my game has evolved into."

Ott won't have the same scoring touch Morrow has in the NHL and likely won't earn the same personal accolades.

Then again, Morrow can't create the same havoc Ott can.

He may be putting pucks in the net on one of the Stars' two top lines, but Ott's bread and butter stems from his ability to unsettle opposing stars.

"If I don't play that way, it's not going to get myself involved in the game and in the hard areas," he said. "I love to battle. I love the one-on-one scenarios. I can't fight right now (due to a broken hand suffered in late November), but my mouth still works."

Oh yeah, the mouth.

Some people have a way of getting under your skin with words. Ott comes by that skill honestly.

"I get it from my mother," Ott said. "Seriously. My mom (Debra) has always been the sparkplug in our family. In my household, everybody's always chirping and yipping at each other, and it all stems from my mom.

"She gives it to me all the time."

Still, Ott insists he does it with honour.

He knows opponents deserve their chance to exact a pound of flesh once in a while.

"Sometimes when you go so hard after a guy, you owe him that chance," Ott said. "You have to have respect for the game, and that's something I feel strongly about.

"You know they can't stand you on the ice. But off the ice, hopefully, they'd like to have a beer."


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