Forgotten Tampa Bay Lightning: Brenden Morrow

Winger Brenden Morrow is known in the hockey world for his time with the Dallas Stars, where he spent a part of 13 seasons. He was a solid complementary talent alongside other forwards like Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen during his time with the organization. However, toward the end of his career, he and the Stars parted ways, with Morrow spending a few stints elsewhere. His last tenure in the NHL was during the 2014-15 campaign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. While he was not the same player he was in Dallas and may not be remembered for his time on other squads, he still played a role in helping the Bolts reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2004.

Shining Star in Dallas

Morrow joined the Stars during the 1999-00 season, coming off of the team winning their first Stanley Cup the campaign prior. He had spent the previous four years in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Portland Winterhawks. He posted the following while he was there:

  • 1995-96: 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points in 65 games
  • 1996-97: 39 goals and 49 assists for 88 points in 71 games
  • 1997-98: 34 goals and 52 assists for 86 points in 68 games
  • 1998-99: 41 goals and 44 assists for 85 points in 61 games

He was selected by Dallas in the first round (25th overall) in 1997 in a draft that also included other skilled names in Joe Thornton (1st overall by the Boston Bruins), Patrick Marleau (2nd overall by the San Jose Sharks), Roberto Luongo (4th overall by the New York Islanders), and Marian Hossa (12th overall by the Ottawa Senators) among others.

In his first NHL season, Morrow netted 14 goals and 33 points in 64 games. That was good for eighth on the team in scoring, but he also gained valuable experience and knowledge as well through teammates in Modano, Brett Hull, Derian Hatcher, and Joe Nieuwendyk, to name a few. He had a very small stint in the International Hockey League (IHL) that year with the Michigan K-Wings, where he posted two goals in nine games.

Brenden Morrow
Brenden Morrow was named captain of the Dallas Stars in 2006. (HermanVonPetri/Flickr)

The Stars found themselves on the grandest hockey stage a second season in a row in 2000. They took on the New Jersey Devils in the Cup Final. They would be unsuccessful in repeating as champion, as they fell to the Devils in six games, with New Jersey forward Jason Arnott scoring the famous double-overtime goal to seal the deal. Morrow went pointless in that round but accumulated two goals and six points in the 21 games he played throughout that run. He also gained valuable experience right away that would benefit his growth and development as he continued to get better and work hard.

Morrow accomplished quite a bit during his time in Dallas. He was named captain of the club in 2006 and held onto the title for the rest of his tenure with the organization. He reached at least 20 goals seven times for the Stars and hit the 30-goal plateau twice (2007-08 and 2010-11). He became a household name and was a significant part in supporting the offense along with Modano and Lehtinen.

During Morrow’s time on the Stars, the team made the playoffs seven times. His most productive postseason campaign occurred in 2007-08 when he accrued nine goals and 15 points in 18 contests. Overall, he netted 17 goals and 42 points in 78 playoff games with Dallas.

In the regular season, Morrow posted the following stats on the Stars:

  • 1999-00: 14 goals and 19 assists for 33 points in 64 games
  • 2000-01: 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points in 82 games
  • 2001-02: 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points in 72 games
  • 2002-03: 21 goals and 22 assists for 43 points in 71 games
  • 2003-04: 25 goals and 24 assists for 49 points in 81 games
  • 2005-06: 23 goals and 42 assists for 65 points in 81 games
  • 2006-07: 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points in 40 games
  • 2007-08: 32 goals and 42 assists for 74 points in 82 games
  • 2008-09: 5 goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 18 games
  • 2009-10: 20 goals and 26 assists for 46 points in 76 games
  • 2010-11: 33 goals and 23 assists for 56 points in 82 games
  • 2011-12: 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points in 57 games
  • 2012-13: 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points in 29 games

During his time with the Stars, Morrow was also honored by making Team Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics. He netted two goals and three points in seven games and helped the squad win the gold medal.

His Last Few Seasons

Dallas was home for Morrow for so long, but soon the franchise decided it was time to part ways with the veteran. He was traded from the Stars during the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were loading their roster up for another run at the Cup after last winning it in 2009. Besides landing Morrow, the Penguins brought in longtime Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla to a core that included Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury. Morrow in the regular season for the Penguins was almost a point-per-game talent, notching 14 points in 15 matchups (six goals and eight assists).

Sidney Crosby
Morrow and Jarome Iginla joined Sidney Crosby (pictured above) and the Pittsburgh Penguins as they tried to win the Stanley Cup in 2013. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Morrow provided depth and stability on the production ranks for Pittsburgh as they headed to the playoffs. He put up two goals and four points in 14 games on that run as the team made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Final. They fell to the Boston Bruins in a sweep, with the B’s headed to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Morrow then headed to free agency in the summer.

The St. Louis Blues were the next team to sign up for his services, inking him to a one-year contract. Like in the case of the Penguins, the Blues were a team who loaded up at the time for a shot at making a deep postseason run themselves. They had the talents of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, TJ Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, and Kevin Shattenkirk as major pieces of their core. They also made a trade before the 2014 deadline, landing goalie Ryan Miller from the Buffalo Sabres. The squad was poised with depth at every position.

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In the regular season for St. Louis, Morrow, in 71 contests, chalked up 25 points (13 goals and 12 assists). The team had its struggles off the bat in the first round, though, when they faced the Blackhawks and were eliminated in six games. Morrow only suited up in two of those, where he went pointless.

Morrow’s last NHL campaign came when he signed as a free agent again, this time with Tampa. The Lightning came off a 2013-14 season that saw them second in the Atlantic Division, losing the division title to the President’s Trophy-winning Bruins. They made it to the playoffs but were swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the opening round. The roster was stacked with promise heading into 2014-15 with Steven Stamkos; the Triplets Line, which consisted of Nikita Kucherov, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat; defender Victor Hedman; and goalie Ben Bishop among other skilled players.

Ben Bishop Tampa Bay Lightning
Ben Bishop was the main goalie in the crease for the Tampa Bay Lightning during the time Morrow was with the team. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Morrow did not find himself on the score sheet much during his season with the Lightning. He was a regular in the lineup for them (70 regular-season matchups), but he only scored three goals and eight points. He did not have to be the offensive presence he was with the Stars, though; those roles were covered by teammates like Stamkos (72 points), Johnson (72 points), Kucherov (65), and Palat (63). Morrow could play a mentor role for these younger players who were gaining more experience under their belts. He brought years of knowledge to the locker room and knew how to lead, thanks to his time as captain with the Stars campaigns before.

Tampa made the postseason in 2014-15 as the second-place team in the Atlantic Division, only behind Montreal. Their regular-season success continued in the playoffs this time, as they defeated the Detroit Red Wings in seven games, beat the Canadiens in six, and surpassed the New York Rangers in seven. They headed to the Stanley Cup Final to take on Chicago, who was looking to win their third Cup since 2010. It was a hard-fought series, but the Blackhawks were the ones who prevailed in six games. Morrow finished the playoffs with no points in 24 games. He officially retired in March 2016.

While he might not be remembered for his offensive flair, Morrow was someone who benefited the rest of the team based on his own hockey journey. He knew what it took to be a solid talent in the league, and other players could look to him as an example of a success story. Tampa is not even the only example of that; I am sure he made an impact with the younger players in Dallas, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis as well. His role changed with the clubs as he got older, but his value was still appreciated by then-Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman and the other managements who signed up for his services. His imprint on the game can still be felt to this day, with many of his former teammates still shining as he once did when he laced up the skates. He gave back to the game as a veteran, and that was his contribution in his later years in the NHL.

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