On an overcast March Thursday in Dallas, former Stars captain Brenden Morrow announced his retirement. With team president Jim Lites at his side, Morrow signed a one-day contract with the club in order to retire as a Dallas Star.
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 17, 2016
It was only fitting that Morrow should formally end his playing career in the city where it began, way back in the fall of 1999. The left wing spent the first twelve-and-a-half of his fifteen NHL seasons with Dallas, and half of that time as team captain. Stars’ television color commentator Daryl “Razor” Reaugh summarized Morrow’s time in Dallas as only he could:
…Brenden Morrow started as a wide-eyed, cherubic, fuzzy-faced rookie wearing number 45, and finished as a hard-nosed and accomplished leader of men, in that familiar number 10 jersey. Two of Brenden’s distinguishing qualities were his quiet confidence and his bravery. He displayed these very early in his Stars career, when he didn’t so much as bat an eyelash or sweat a bullet at dating a teammate’s daughter.
Morrow went on to marry that teammate’s (Guy Carbonneau’s) daughter. With the Stars, he also experienced the incredible thrill of skating on a line with his boyhood idol, Brett Hull. In 2006, he became the fifth team captain in Dallas Stars history, a well-deserved honor.
The gritty winger, called “the toughest human being I’ve ever met” by former teammate Marty Turco, played 835 regular season games with the Stars, tallying 243 goals and 528 points, putting him in the franchise top ten in all three categories.
To put up those numbers, he battled through numerous injuries, from a broken bone in his ankle during the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs (which only sidelined him for two games), to severed tendons in his wrist (33 games in 2006-07), to an ACL tear (64 games in 2008-09). When healthy, Morrow was a force to be reckoned with, an all-around solid player who scored 30-plus goals twice and never hesitated to drop the gloves for his team.
Over the years, injuries and time took their toll. In an emotional speech Thursday, Morrow acknowledged this while thanking his wife for her support:
None of this would’ve been possible without the support of my wife, Anne-Marie. 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, getting me back on track…She’s tough; I wish she was my winger.
Following his speech, the retiring Star took a few questions from the media. In response to one query, Morrow expressed his regret at never winning the Stanley Cup:
It’ll eat at me for awhile, I’m sure…We’ve touched on a lot of the things that I had the opportunity to win, but that just wasn’t one of them, and that’s probably my biggest disappointment.
As a rookie, Brenden Morrow played in the 2000 Stanley Cup Final, in which his Stars fell to the New Jersey Devils in six games. In his final season (2014-15), he played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who came up short against the Chicago Blackhawks in another six-game Stanley Cup Final.
Thursday night, Morrow will be honored in a ceremony prior to the puck drop in Dallas, where the Stars host the Lightning. It’s a perfect end to an imperfect career. In time, the former Star should be able to embrace the beautiful symmetry, if not the imperfection. Hopefully, he’ll look back on his career with nothing but fond memories, embracing it the way Stars fans embraced him.
The former captain ended his prepared remarks with one simple sentence:
It’s a privilege to have played, and to retire, as a Dallas Star.
On behalf of Stars fans everywhere, I say: The privilege was all ours, Mr. Morrow.
Matt blogged about all things hockey at On Goal Analysis/The OGA Blogs from 2008-2014 and has written several travel articles for The Dallas Morning News. He began covering the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers for The Hockey Writers in August 2015. Matt is also writing a biography of “Tex” Rickard, the Texas cowboy who founded the New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Corporation.