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Brenden Morrow provides grit, wisdom to Lightning

Brenden Morrow has done the things required of a fourth-line player, which has been his role since joining the Lightning.
Brenden Morrow has done the things required of a fourth-line player, which has been his role since joining the Lightning.
Published Dec. 9, 2014

TAMPA — Call it the Brenden Morrow Effect.

During Thursday's game, Sabres center Cody McCormick, 31, went after Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin, 19. McCormick, a 6-foot-2, 224-pound veteran, was trying to test the 5-11, 186-pound rookie.

Without lifting a finger, Morrow put an end to that.

"You see (Morrow) came by and said something, and McCormick pretty much went to the bench," Drouin said. "Because (Morrow) is such a veteran, guys respect him so much on our side and even other teams."

That type of calming influence, and ability to keep opponents honest, are key contributions Morrow, 35, has brought to the Lightning. The former Stars captain boasts seven 20-goal seasons in his 15-year career, but he's in a different role now — a gritty fourth liner and leader.

And while Morrow has just two goals in 25 games heading into tonight's game against the Capitals, his value goes far beyond the box score, especially on such a young team.

"He's contributed to us more than he'll ever know," coach Jon Cooper said. "For him to score, I know any player wants to be on the scoresheet and feel like they're contributing. But he's been as advertised in everything we've needed. If we're going to go places, we need Brenden Morrow to be Brenden Morrow."

The Lightning has a green forward group, nine of them 24 or younger. "Compared to the Morrows, they're just a little past the diaper stage," Cooper said. They needed an experienced forward to bring them along and Morrow, an Olympic gold medalist who has been to the playoffs nine times, fit the bill.

But for Morrow, a long-time top-line player, it has been a challenge to have a limited on-ice role. He has logged less than 10 minutes in 14 games and was a healthy scratch three times.

"Is it easy? No it's not easy," Morrow said. "It's always an adjustment, you want to do more, you want to play more. But sitting and watching, you see how good this team is and how many players that get the job done. You've got to be a professional and stay prepared."

Cooper said while some would not understand the role, and let it negatively impact their play, Morrow is "like a Timex watch, he keeps on ticking."

Morrow throws his 6-foot, 205-pound frame around, finishing every check, and never takes a shift off. "He's a meat and potatoes (player)," Cooper said. Morrow isn't afraid to go to dirty areas in front of the net or in corners, screening goalies and retrieving rebounds. He has been rewarded with two goals in his past four games.

"He's the kind of guy who can play in any generation," defenseman Matt Carle said.

When the Sabres went after linemate Brian Boyle on Thursday, Morrow was the first to jump in. Drouin, who said Morrow often gives him tips, felt similar protection from McCormick.

"When something is brewing, and Morrow can do a fly by and all of a sudden, you see the respect factor in the other team," Cooper said. "That is something, a guy can be 6-foot-3 and not get the same look as a guy who has been in the league 12 years and earned the right. You can see everything settles right down. Then all of a sudden, what could escalate into something turns into a conversation. It's the respect factor and he carries it."

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Contact Joe Smith at Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.


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