“I’d like to thank the Stars for letting me come home and have this opportunity,” said Morrow, who played 15 seasons in the NHL including 13 with Dallas and served as the Stars captain from 2006-13.
Morrow announced his retirement at an emotional press conference at American Airlines Center, the former Dallas captain choking up several times as he talked about his career and thanked those who helped along the way.
“No one worked harder than these two,” Morrow said. “Dad was a manual laborer, mom on her feet all day. They showed me what honest work really was.”
There were thanks to his brother, praise for a friend back in Saskatchewan who talked him down when he thought about leaving his junior team in Portland, Oregon because he was homesick, and appreciation for the billet families he stayed with while in juniors.
Then it was onto members of the Stars organization when he broke into the league including former GM Bob Gainey and former coach Ken Hitchcock. And then those who made him captain of the Stars.
“Thanks to [former GM] Doug Armstrong and [former coach] Dave Tippett. They gave me the great honor of wearing the ‘C’ on my chest,” Morrow said. “It’s something I am still very proud of today.”
“They shaped and formed the person and player I am today,” he said. “I was very lucky when I came in the league in 1999 I got to learn from champions – Guy Carbonneau, Mike Keane, Joe Nieuwendyk, Sergei Zubov, Jere Lehtinen and Mr. Dallas Star, Mike Modano. And I got to play with my hockey idol, Brett Hull. I got to play with my best friend, Marty Turco. It wasn’t easy leaving here those last few years. At least I knew the team was in great hands with Jamie Benn. I am his biggest fan.”
There were the fans.
“To the Stars fans, I know I wasn’t the most skilled player; I relied a lot on grit. Thanks for appreciating that,” Morrow said. “You made me feel special in a way I could never repay.”
And his wife, Anne-Marie.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of my wife, Anne-Marie,” Morrow said. “During the last few years, when my body broke down, and my skills diminished you were always there supporting me, telling me I was the greatest. She’s tough. I wish she could be my winger. Her greatest gift to me has been our three kids. I love you.”
Morrow played 991 games with Dallas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa Bay, registering 575 points (265 goals, 310 assists). He ranks fifth in Dallas Stars franchise history in games played (835), seventh in goals (243) and eighth in points (528). But Morrow was more than numbers. There was a lot of grit, determination, and heart.
“Brenden exemplified what a captain should be," said Stars president Jim Lites. “He was an unbelievable player; he did everything it took to win. He's an example, all the things we want our players to be.”
“The toughest human being that I have ever met,” said Turco.
Morrow played in the 2000 Stanley Cup Final with the Stars and led them to the 2008 Western Conference Finals, scoring the series-clinching goal in the fourth overtime of Game 6 in the conference semifinals against San Jose.
“That run we had in 2008, that was a lot of fun,” Morrow said.
There was a gold medal with Canada at the 2010 Olympics, and gold at the 2004 World Championship and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey as well.
He went back to the Stanley Cup Final last season with Tampa Bay, playing in all 24 playoff games with the Lightning.
“He's got a presence about him," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "Players migrate to him. He's one of those guys that he doesn't have a ton of words, but when they do come out, they mean something, and he's just an all-around great guy.
“You don't have to score the goal or make the big assist, but are you contributing on the ice? Are guys looking at you saying, 'Oh wow, he's doing that, I have to do that.' That's kind of how Brenden Morrow was.”
And now, Morrow is officially retired. There are no official plans, except spend some quality time with the family.
"I'm going to take it a day at a time," he said. “Just enjoy some time with [my family]. They have been troupers, traveling around, sacrificing a lot. With everything they've done the last few years, I think it's time they get my focus and my attention."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.