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A New To-Morrow

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

When Dallas general manager Joe Nieuwendyk approached his captain Brenden Morrow about waiving his no-trade clause to go to Pittsburgh, the veteran forward had a big decision to make.

He’d been with the Stars organization since the team drafted him in 1997, with this being his 13th season in Dallas and seventh as captain. That’s a long time to spend with one team, the only team of his NHL career. So he talked it over with his wife, Anne-Marie, and three children (eight-year-old Bryelle and four-year-old twins Brody and Mallory), and they eventually decided he should accept the trade and go to the Penguins.

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Though it was a tough choice marked by lots of emotions, it was certainly the right one, as Morrow shared a touching story about those conversations with his family.

“I had an early flight this morning and got up and gave a kiss to my eight-year-old and said I was taking off,” Morrow said. “She handled it pretty well. We had the talk the night before. I got a text when I landed in Atlanta from my wife. She said, ‘Bryelle came into the room two minutes after you left and saw me crying. And she said, ‘Mom, it’s going to be OK. It’s only a couple months and he’s got a chance to win a Cup.’”

Those are poignant words from Bryelle, as it’s every player’s goal to win a Stanley Cup. But for her dad, having a legitimate opportunity to do that at this point in his career means everything.

Morrow, who turned 34 in January, broke into the NHL the season after Dallas won their last Cup back in 1999. He’s been to the playoffs seven times in his career, but the Stars haven’t advanced to the postseason since 2008 and he’s hungrier than ever to finally raise that silver chalice over his head. And he knows Sidney Crosby, his teammate with Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, shares that same drive and determination.

“The reason I picked Pittsburgh was because of how good a chance they have of winning a Cup,” he said. “I think knowing ‘Sid’ from the Olympics and what drives him, I don’t think he’s happy with one Cup. I think he wants to win numerous Cups. That’s the biggest reason I came here. I want to win. It’s been a tough 3-4 years in Dallas not being a part of that and watching the playoffs and the excitement, the energy. Just watching games, I just want to be a part of that again and this was a good fit for that.”

Morrow is the type of player who’s built for the playoffs. Penguins general manager Ray Shero cited his “competitive spirit” and “physical nature” as something they identified as necessary to add to their roster for the postseason. Morrow is obviously a natural leader having worn the “C” for so long in Dallas and is a gritty warrior who will do whatever it takes and leave everything he has on the ice for his team.

While coach Dan Bylsma said initially he sees Morrow playing left wing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal when everyone is healthy, Morrow says he’ll do whatever the team needs him to do in order to be successful.

“I have no idea what part, I just don’t want to screw it up,” Morrow joked. “Right now, they’re going pretty good. That’s up to Dan – coach Bylsma – wherever he sees a good fit. I’ve been on teams before, the Olympics, where you find a role and you do whatever it takes. I want to win a Cup. I’m going to do whatever role I need to do to help this team do that.”

Morrow feels the same way about his role off the ice. He was the heart and soul of the Stars franchise and wore a letter on his jersey as a result. But he doesn’t want to mess with the dynamic of the Penguins locker room; he’s looking forward to just coming in, fitting in and doing what he does best.

“I’m going to do what I do,” he said. “Lead the way I lead. Sid, this is his team. No question there. Not taking anything away from him. He’s the best player in the world. I’m just going to be a piece of the puzzle. I’m not stepping on any toes. I’m going to come in and do what I do. Play how I play. I think there’s a reason they saw a fit with me here.”

It’s not easy for any player to deal with a trade, especially when it's their first one and they have to leave the organization they’ve been a part of for 16 years. But the positive about coming to this team is that there’s familiarity there with a lot of the guys – Morrow played with Neal and Matt Niskanen in Dallas and was teammates with Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury at the Olympics – which should make the transition easier.

And Morrow, who said his body feels good and that he has “a lot left in the tank,” also figures moving to the top team in the Eastern Conference will rejuvenate him.

“There’s a lot of energy, a lot of youth on this team,” Morrow said. “Great players. I know 4-5 of them from playing with them and others just from competing against them and not enjoying that. It’s a great group.

“I spent a lot of time with one team, got very comfortable there. I’m looking forward to a new challenge. If I get a boost from a new team – which I’m sure I’m going to – with the skill this team has, the talent with two of the best players in the world, it’s going to make it very easy to play. I’m very excited.”

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