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Morrow nervous, excited to make Penguins debut

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- More than 13 years after making his NHL debut, Brenden Morrow felt something during his drive to the rink Tuesday morning that he hadn't felt much since breaking into the League as a 20-year-old in 1999.


"I hadn't felt them in a long time," Morrow said after the morning skate Tuesday, in advance of his Pittsburgh Penguins debut Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. "But those are good feelings. They're not maybe the best feelings in your body, but you know you're alive, you know you're feeling something when those butterflies show up."

Morrow has felt plenty during his largely sleepless 48 hours leading up to the game Tuesday. And while sadness and uncertainty associated with leaving the only NHL team he had known are among them, excitement in joining the League's hottest team -- one that gives Morrow a legitimate chance at winning the Stanley Cup -- is at the forefront.

The Penguins, who have won 12 consecutive games, on Sunday traded defense prospect Joseph Morrow (no relation) and a fifth-round 2013 NHL Draft pick for Morrow and a 2013 third-round choice.

Monday, coach Dan Bylsma gave Morrow an "out" for not suiting up Tuesday after a couple of long days of travel and lack of sleep. In reality, there was never much of a chance Morrow was not going to play as soon as possible.

"Unless I slip in the shower on the way out of here, I think we're set," Morrow said following the morning skate when asked if he'd play.

Morrow was with former Stars forward James Neal and center Dustin Jeffrey during line rushes Tuesday morning. He was given a crash course in the Penguins' systems upon arriving in Pittsburgh on Monday.

"He probably didn't hear a lot of what I said," Bylsma said, "but he's a hockey player. … I think he just wants to get on the ice right now and play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's only been a Dallas Star and been a Dallas Star for a long time, and he's been a heart-and-soul guy, and that's a bit of a change.

"I think he's pretty excited about playing for the Penguins, getting started here and with the opportunity he's got here to play. So I'm really looking forward to seeing him step on the ice [Tuesday] and introduce himself as the kind of player he is to not only our team, but to the Penguins fans -- and maybe even a Canadien."

Morrow described his attachment to the Stars' way of doing things as "robotic" after so many years. But he said any adjustments to new linemates, systems or coaching staffs won't be ones he can't overcome.

"Well, we're hockey players," Morrow said. "Those details, some guys catch on quicker; we'll just have to see. I went over them once; it was a long day for me [Monday], so hopefully some of it stuck in and I'll remember it. You just react when you're on the ice. You've got those things in your head, but you just play hockey."

Morrow will play it with the same style he has for much of his 13 NHL seasons. With highly skilled players Neal, League scoring leader Sidney Crosby and reigning League scoring champion Evgeni Malkin among his new teammates, Morrow intends on keeping things simple.

"That's kind of been my M.O. my whole career -- just going to the front of the net," Morrow said. "I know all the skill and talent this locker room has, and I think my job is just to drive to the front of the net with my stick on the ice and let things hit me. So that makes things pretty easy."

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