The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brenden Morrow is fresh from losing yet another excruciatingly close Stanley Cup Final. Back in the 1999-2000 season, Morrow’s first, he lost the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in six games to Jason Arnott and the New Jersey Devils. The Stars had won the Cup the year before, unfortunately Morrow debuted as a rookie after that Cup victory.
Of his 16 NHL seasons, Morrow played as a member of the Dallas Stars for the first 13. He served as the captain of the Stars for seven seasons and much like the Stars captain today, he gave everything he had for his team.
The Early Years
Morrow made his debut in November of 1999 with the Dallas Stars in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers. For some perspective on how long ago that was, that game against the Flyers ended in a tie. He would score his first NHL goal just two games later against the Colorado Avalanche and it began an impressive rookie season that saw Morrow score 14 goals and add 19 assists in the regular season. He was named rookie-of-the-year by the team and finished 15th in overall Calder Trophy voting.
Unfortunately, that success did not translate to the Stanley Cup, at least not for the Stars. They were defeated by an Arnott overtime goal and lost the Stanley Cup Finals in six games to the Devils. It would be a long time before Morrow got that close to a Stanley Cup championship.
The Captain’s Run in 2007-08
The seasons came and went after that Stanley Cup loss and Morrow improved as a player every season. In 2007, he exploded. He scored 32 goals and added 42 assists for a career-high 74 points that season and finished seventh in Selke voting after the regular season had concluded. That would be the closest Morrow would come to winning a regular season award for individual performance and it was a spectacular showing. In the playoffs, he elevated his game even further.
The Stars began the 2007-08 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the defending champion Anaheim Ducks. Morrow played an excellent series, putting up six points in six games. Although Anaheim was the heavy favorite, the Stars battled and took the first two games on the road. They clinched the series at the American Airlines Center in Dallas and it was on to the next round for Morrow and the Stars.
The Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks met up in the second round of the playoffs in 2008. The Sharks were the two seed behind the Detroit Red Wings that year and they won the Pacific Division crown. Morrow would take his game to a completely different level in this series and nobody had a bigger impact in the games than he did. The Stars won the first two games on the road yet again, with Morrow scoring two goals in the first game, including the overtime winner. The Stars took game three at home to get a stranglehold on the series and then things started to change. A close game four went to the Sharks. Game five saw Morrow score three times, but only one of them counted. Behind an overtime goal by Joe Pavelski, the Sharks would take game five and talks of an epic comeback began. And then came game six.
Game six between the Stars and the Sharks is one of the most memorable games for either franchise’s history. It went four overtimes and is the eighth longest contest in the history of the NHL. The Stars were no stranger to long overtimes at this point as they are currently involved in three of the top eight longest games. Tied at one late in regulation, Morrow delivered an earth-shattering hit to Milan Michalek and set the tone for the extra sessions. In the overtimes, Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov traded spectacular save after spectacular save and the game went on into the early morning. The Stars were awarded a powerplay in the fourth overtime and Morrow would make the Sharks pay. He tipped home a Stephane Robidas pass and sent the Stars to the Western Conference Finals, the closest Morrow had come to a Stanley Cup since 2000.
Unfortunately for Morrow, his wait would continue for the elusive championship. Morrow fought valiantly against the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings, adding more points to his playoff totals. The Stars were just not able to overcome the best team in the league that season and they fell to the Red Wings in six games. Had the Stars won the Cup that year, there would have been no question that Morrow would have taken home the Conn Smythe.
The Final Seasons as a Star
After the deep 2008 playoff run, Morrow would not return to the postseason as a member of the Dallas Stars. Although he played well at times, the seasons following that run were riddled with tough injuries and declining play. He played just 18 games in the 2008-09 season. He scored just 46 points in the season following that campaign. In 2010-11, Morrow set a career high in goals with 33 but the Stars lost the final game in the regular season to the Minnesota Wild and missed the playoffs due to that loss. Morrow played just 57 games in the following season and then the 2012-13 season would be his last as the Captain of the Stars. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline that year as the Stars wanted to move on and give Morrow another chance at a Stanley Cup.
Although Morrow’s play has taken a downturn, he continues to fight on for the Stanley Cup championship that eluded him so long ago. His first and only playoff appearance with the Penguins ended in the Eastern Conference Finals. He signed a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues for the 2013-14 season but that dream ended in the first round. This season, he signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning and would get the closest he has come to the Cup in 15 years. The Lightning were eliminated in six games, and Morrow had some heart-wrenching quotes following the loss. “I don’t remember 15 years ago,” he said, as a trainer pulled a Lightning flag down from the wall behind him. “I was just young and dumb and thought it was going to happen every time. Now, I’m not sure if this is it, or if I’ll get another opportunity.” Hopefully, he does get another opportunity.
Morrow has had a tremendously successful NHL career. He won gold in the 2010 Olympics playing primarily on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry (sound familiar?). Whether this is it for his NHL career or not remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, he will always be remembered as a Dallas Star. Keep going Brenden, the city of Dallas and Stars fans everywhere are certainly rooting for you.
Jordan has been covering the Stars for The Hockey Writers since February 2015. He is originally from Iowa City, Iowa. You can follow Jordan on twitter @jordan_dix