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Return to postseason will be 'a real exciting time' for Morrow - 04-15-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

After 13 seasons, there isn't a lot new Penguins forward Brenden Morrow hasn't seen in his career.

Much of it has been good. A first-round pick in 1997, he has played with future hall-of-famers with the Stars and as a member of Canada's 2010 Olympic team which won the gold medal.

Some of it was bad. The Stars' captain for parts of seven seasons, Morrow saw ownership struggle with finances and endured two lockouts.

About the only thing Morrow hasn't witnessed in his career is a Stanley Cup championship which he was a part of. Hoping to fill that void, he waived a no-trade clause and accepted a deal to the Penguins last month.

Recently, he talked about variety of subjects including his only appearance in a Stanley Cup final early in his career, fighting new teammate Jarome Iginla and walking into the wrong dressing room at the Civic Arena.

What do you remember about being drafted in 1997 in the Civic Arena?

"I remember the nerves. You’re sitting there not knowing who’s going to call your name. Sitting in the stands with your family and waiting on teams to pick players. It’s just a real exciting, nervous time."

What was it like being a rookie on the 1999-2000 Stars team which was loaded with all-stars such as Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov, Ed Belfour and Brett Hull?

"There was a lot of veteran leadership in that room. [Guy] Carboneau, [Mike] Keane. It was tough because there wasn’t a whole lot of guys [head coach Ken Hitchcock] could yell at. It was tough that way but I grew a lot as a player and a person that first year in Dallas. There was some good leadership guys that took me under their wing. Joe Nieuwendyk kind of showed me the ropes. Had me over for dinner. All those things kind of rub off on you as a player."

Are there any similarities between those Stars teams of the early 2000s to this Penguins team?

"Yeah. Modano and Nieuwendyk were both two top centers in the league at that time. I don’t know if they were the status of [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin but a lot of similarities. A real powerhouse team. High expectations coming off a Stanley Cup [title in 1999]. Not only from fans and media but guys in the locker room had a lot of pressure on themselves. So that’s similar I think coming into a [team] like this."

What do you remember about making a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2000?

"It was a very strong team. We hadn't lost I don’t think two games in a row at home pretty much the whole season. For just coming off a Stanley Cup [championship], they were a real hungry team again. There was a real desire on that team to win a second one and came up two games short [in the Final]. Lost in Game Six in overtime at home but it was a hungry, hungry team in the locker room."

You dated and eventually married the daughter of your teammate, Guy Carbonneau (right). How unique of a courtship was that?

"It would have been if I didn’t have Guy’s blessing at first. It started as a joke in the locker room from one or two guys kind of ribbing Guy and I if that ever became something to when it actually did. All the jokes had already run their course and I had his blessing. As a 20-year-old on his first NHL team, that’s wasn’t something I was prepared to do. I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers."

What's the biggest thing teams in the Western Conference have to contend with in terms of travel?

"Everyone tinkers with it. You have sleep doctors and people that tell you how much rest you need. I think every team has probably spoken to a specialist in that field. There’s probably a little more rest days and days off and optional skates just because of the beating you put on your body. It’s not like we’re flying around in economy [class] banging into people. We travel pretty nice. But just the amount of time you’re in the air and not in your own bed and being comfortable at home, it puts some wear and tear on the body."

Are you in favor of the NHL's realignment plan for next season?

"Yeah. Travel when I was in Dallas was one of worst in the league. It’s something that probably needed to be done to better the league. Wherever I am next year, I’m looking forward to it."

What's the toughest part of the travel in Dallas? The time spent traveling or playing in multiple time zones?

"It’s probably the adjustment to the time zones. Guys are all kinds of wound up after games and don’t sleep so the rest is kind of an issue no matter where you are but it’s the time changes that get the worst of you."

You had a fight with new teammate Jarome Iginla, then of the Flames, in 2001. What do you remember about it?


"We actually talked about already since we’ve been here. We both play hard. Those things happen. I’ve got to know him real well since well. We joked about it. He was kind enough to let me know – in some language I can’t say – that his left was coming and he got me with it on the top of my head. I appreciated the warning. He let me know it was coming."

You once walked into the Penguins dressing room by accident following warm-ups as a visitor?

"It was confusing I guess how you skated the length (from the benches). That’s what got me. I remember leaving the ice and having the feeling that I was getting heckled by the fans. Knowing that I’m not in Pittsburgh often and not knowing why I was being heckled. I blew them off and handed my gloves to the trainer who was a perfect stranger. I made my way into the locker room before Sid finally yelled at me and told me I was in the wrong place."

What is different with Matt Niskanen (right) and James Neal since you were their teammate in Dallas?

"With ‘Nisky,’ confidence. He had a great first year with us playing with [Zubov], then I think maybe lost a little confidence. Expectations got high and coaches were on him. Seeing him play here, he’s a completely different player confidence-wise. With ‘Nealer,’ that was never a problem with him. He had the confidence. He’s just filling into his body and becoming stronger and playing a bit more of a man’s game."

You made a run to the Western Conference final with the Stars in 2008. Did you think that would be the last time you would reach the postseason, let alone have a shot at the Stanley Cup, with Dallas?

"At the time, no. You think the next year is going to be the best one. We had a good run there and you think the next year, you’re going to build off of it and we failed to make the playoffs that year and the three or four after that. Coming to a good team like this, there’s some work to be done and you want to keep building. You want to make sure you game is in order when that first playoff game comes. That’s going to be a real exciting time."

(Photos: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press; Eliot Schechter/Getty Images; Vincent Laforet/Allsport/Getty Images; Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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