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Morrow can't play, but he's still making a difference

by Dan Rosen
The call from former teammate Jon Sim intrigued him, but Dallas Stars captain Brenden Morrow had to dig a little deeper to learn if the journey to his hometown of Carlyle, Sask. would be worth the trouble.

The trip north would require Morrow to fly from Dallas to Minneapolis and then hop a connecting flight to Minot, N.D. From Minot he would have to drive another two hours to Carlyle, a farming community 45 minutes north of the border.

Such a journey is not so easy for a rehabbing father of three, including 9-month old twins. But when Morrow, who has been out since Nov. 20 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, found out what he would be doing, he was sold.

Morrow leaves Thursday for Carlyle, where he lived until leaving for Portland, Ore., to play in the Western Hockey League as a 16-year-old. He plans to travel with his wife and 4-year-old daughter, Bryelle, to represent the NHL Players' Association's Goals and Dreams fund by handing out 50 sets of hockey equipment to less fortunate children.

The festivities begin Friday, and on Saturday he'll be joined by CBC's Mitch Peacock for a special live broadcast that will serve as part of the network's Tim Horton's Hockey Day in Canada, a 13 1/2-hour show celebrating the game of hockey across the nation.

"I talked to Devin Smith from the Players' Association and he mentioned to me about the Goals and Dreams fund and that sold it for me," Morrow told "I'm going there to represent the PA. There is some publicity for the town and I'm sure the kids back there are pretty excited to be able to make TV for a little bit."

Morrow's homecoming is bittersweet.

For one, he only has distant family remaining in the farming community of roughly 1,300. His parents, Dick and Lucille, moved to Medicine Hat, Alta., roughly six years ago. His older brother, Jeremy, 33, lives in Sylvan Lake, Alta. Morrow said he hasn't been back to Carlyle since before his parents moved away.

Mainly, though, Morrow would rather be playing against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night than celebrating Hockey Day in Canada in Carlyle. He hasn't begun skating yet, but hopes to return at some point this season.

"I'm still rooting for my team and want them to get to the playoffs because I haven't given up hope that I'll be back," Morrow said. "It's bittersweet. It's nice to go home and have this opportunity, but you never want to have this opportunity in the middle of February."

Since he does, Morrow is making the best of it.

He contacted some old friends to tell them he was coming back to town. He hopes they are able to make it back as well for a reunion Thursday night.

The town will hold a street hockey tournament Friday and a banquet in the evening. Morrow said he plans to sign numerous autographs, and also heard that former NHL player Jim McKenzie will be on hand for the signing session, as well.

McKenzie, who was born in Gull Lake, Sask., spent some time in Carlyle when his father, a policeman, was stationed there.

"You dream about being able to go home and take the Stanley Cup and have that ceremony," Morrow said. "This is close to it because I'm able to give back in this way. Even if it was hand-me-downs from my brother's equipment, I never lacked in skates to be able to play the sport I love. To help some kids that may not be as fortunate to play the greatest game on earth … it feels really good to be able to help them try to fulfill their dream."

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