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Morrow set to face old Stars mates for first time

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- At some point in time after Brenden Morrow was traded away from the only team he's ever known, the forward knew he was going to face the Dallas Stars.

Morrow, the 34-year-old left wing who now playes for the St. Louis Blues, will line up against the team that took him with the 25th pick in the 1997 NHL Draft when the Blues and Stars meet for the first time as Central Division rivals Saturday.

Morrow played in 865 games over 14 seasons, 835 of them have with the Stars, including the last seven seasons as their captain.

"It's going to be strange," Morrow said after the morning skate Saturday. "I think there's nine or 10 fresh faces over there, so it's not like I know the whole team but it's still some great memories of that franchise and I'm still real close with a lot of the players there. It's going to be a strange game.

"There's going to be a little bit more intensity into it tonight. Usually it's messing around and joking around. I still haven't put a whole lot of thought into how I'm going to feel. It just feels like another game at the moment right now, but once I get out there and see all the guys and the puck's dropped, there might be some different feelings going through my mind."

When Morrow was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins before the NHL Trade Deadline last season, it ended his reign with the Stars. Morrow more or less passed the baton to current Stars captain Jamie Benn, whom Morrow took under his wing after the Stars drafted him in the fifth round in 2007.

"We got to build a pretty good relationship," Benn said. "I was a few years younger than him. He's done a lot for me and it was nice to catch up for dinner with him last night. I'm looking forward to tonight and I'm sure he's going to look a lot different with that Blues jersey on.

"I guess it's going to happen. It's going to be a little different. He was obviously a big player, a big part of me developing into the player I am today and just growing up and being a professional and the way he treated others. He kind of took me under his wing when I first came in as a rookie."

Morrow spent Friday night with some of his former teammates over dinner, and there were some playful jabs exchanged. But when the puck drops Saturday, it's all business.

"I still care about how that team's doing and how those guys are doing," Morrow said. "I keep an eye on some games when I get a chance, but once the puck drops tonight, I know who's team I'm on."

For the Blues, center Patrik Berglund (upper body) will be a game-time decision after skating for the second straight morning skate. Berglund, who has missed three games, said he feels better.

"The rehab has been good and skating and shooting's been much better. We'll see," Berglund said. "Hopefully I can be out there and playing."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said, "We put him through the paces again today. If he feels fine, then a good chance he plays, yeah."

For the Stars, forward Ray Whitney (groin) skated Saturday but will miss a fifth consecutive game. Coach Lindy Ruff said it's best to be safe with the 41-year-old.

"He's real close, but I think the smart thing is to wait," Ruff said.

Here are the projected lineups for the Stars and Blues:


Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Valeri Nichushkin

Erik Cole - Cody Eakin - Alex Chiasson

Antoine Roussel - Vernon Fiddler - Rich Peverley

Dustin Jeffrey - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Garbutt

Brenden Dillon - Stephane Robidas

Alex Goligoski - Trevor Daley

Sergei Gonchar - Jordie Benn

Kari Lehtonen

Dan Ellis

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Aaron Rome

Injured: Ray Whitney (groin)


Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Jaden Schwartz - Vladimir Sobotka - Vladimir Tarasenko

Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart

Magnus Paajarvi - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Adam Cracknell

Injured: Patrik Berglund (upper body), Jordan Leopold (hand)

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