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Miracle on Ice member Morrow shares his memories

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These days he's the Director of Pro Scouting for the New York Islanders, a position he's held for the better part of the past two decades.

But Ken Morrow is better known as a skilled defenseman who won four Stanley Cups with the Islanders back in the early 1980s -- or as one of the fresh-faced college kids who helped engineer the Miracle On Ice for the U.S. Olympic Team 30 years ago in Lake Placid, N.Y.

As a guest on Thursday's NHL Hour With Gary Bettman, Morrow was asked by the commissioner to describe his feelings with the 2010 Vancouver Games on the verge of getting under way.

"It's been 30 years and I'm reminded of it almost on a daily basis," Morrow said. "When each Olympics rolls around every four years, I tell people I kind of get famous again. But it's more so just the interviews and the people that want to talk about 1980, and then the rest of the time in between on a daily basis I'm asked about what I went through.

"Believe it or not, to this day I still get letters almost every day from people writing me. They're almost identical, in that when they started out it was somebody telling me they were a kid watching with their father, watching the game on TV, that it was one of the greatest moments of their lives. Now they've turned into 'my kid saw the movie,' and they've heard about it from the dad, and so it's been a great evolution."

"Miracle," released in 2004 by Disney, featured Kurt Russell in the role of U.S. coach Herb Brooks. An actor by the name of Casey Burnette portrayed Morrow.

"It was quite an experience. They did a fantastic job. It sure makes you appreciate actors, when you see a guy like Kurt Russell get into character as he did for Herb Brooks," Morrow said. "I think all the players will tell you he did a terrific job. And the hockey scenes -- they made a real effort to get the hockey scenes right, to use guys that have played hockey before. So all in all it was a real good movie."

Asked by Bettman to recall his favorite memory from the 1980 Olympics, Morrow mentioned a moment the movie didn't chronicle. After the U.S. had wrapped up the gold medal against Finland, there was still the bronze medal game to be played prior to the medal ceremony. In the meantime, the players were able to round up their families and friends, and enjoy a quiet celebration in the locker room area.

"Some of your 1980 Olympic teammates have said that you were so reliable and so rarely out of position that Herb Brooks never yelled at you. Is that true?" Bettman asked, drawing a laugh from Morrow.

"Truthfully, I didn't have a problem with Herb," Morrow replied. "I left him alone and he left me alone. I think he knew a lot of that stuff wasn't going to work on me. I was a very quiet person, and Herb knew what made each player tick. That's what made him such a great coach."

Of course, the advent of using NHL players in the Olympics has changed the dynamic from when Morrow played. Thirty years ago, he had to make the decision on whether to sign a pro contract, which would have made him ineligible to represent his country, or wait until after the Lake Placid Games.

"It wasn't a difficult decision for me," Morrow said, though he noted the U.S. did lose some other talented players -- including Joe Mullen, who signed with the St. Louis Blues. "It was something that I wanted to do; truthfully, the money wasn't going to be a whole lot different whether I turned pro before the Olympics or after."

Morrow also spent some time discussing the Islanders, who will come out of the Olympic break very much in contention for an Eastern Conference playoff berth one season after finishing last in the League standings.

Specifically, he was asked to address free-agent signee Matt Moulson, the team's leading goal scorer, and John Tavares, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 Entry Draft who has 17 goals and 33 points to rank among the rookie scoring leaders.

"Matt Moulson's been such a pleasant surprise this year," Morrow said. "We couldn't have asked for a better kid to come in and do what he's done this year. It's always a joy for me, as a pro scout, to see a guy come that's been spending some time in the minor leagues and just step in and earn an NHL job and to play the way he's played.

"As far as John Tavares goes, he's been everything we could have hoped for and more. He's really, at such a young age, been through so much and we feel he will be the face of our franchise going forward."


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