I remember where I was when I heard about Brenden Morrow's ACL injury. It was a Friday late in November, 2008 and I was headed up 35E to Lewisville in rush hour misery. I was sitting in an impossible traffic jam when The Ticket broke in with the news: Brenden Morrow is out for the season.
Things were already getting bad that season, but that was really the beginning of the truly tumultuous times with Sean Avery getting ready to do his famous deed only two weeks later. It was a crushing blow.
Nearly two YEARS later and Brenden Morrow is still somewhat on the comeback trail, at least in the eyes of the fans, be it fair or not. When the 2007-2008 season concluded, Brenden was the unstoppable iron man. He was the face of everything people wanted Stars hockey to be. The San Jose Sharks seemed to shrink at the very sight of him that year in the playoffs. He could do no wrong (unless he was scoring a goal with his glove or skate.) Since then he's struggled a little to regain that top form.
2009-2010 saw him play the whole season, but the Olympic break, slightly reduced production (from the lofty expectations bred out of 2008) and a carousel of knee braces had some wondering if warrior-Brenden would ever truly re-emerge.
Pre-season perceptions being what they are, it's looks like he's back. BACK back. And it's a sight for sore eyes.
Asked about his strong play heading into the season, Brenden paused a little and searched for a sensible answer after the teams 2-1 win over Colorado Thursday night, but you could tell before he opened his mouth (or this was my fanboy perception affecting me, I won't deny it) that he was pleased with the way things were going...
More after the jump...
"It's early, so you don't want to get too far ahead," Morrow said, "but it does feel good. The chemistry...we've found a pretty good fit with Burish. He goes hard and he skates well. He threw the puck at the net for the winner there. He just battles hard and wins a lot of one on ones."
A revolving door of right wings over the last several years has not limited the duo's (Morrow and Ribeiro) ability to put points up on the board. The Jonathan Cheechoo experiment may not have suceeded, but they rolled on to the next idea without missing a beat.
Adam Burish, perhaps freed up by the Wandell injury (a likely pairing coach had mentioned prior to pre-season) came onto the line and, as you read already, has had rave reviews from Morrow and Ribeiro. They like his speed and they like his work ethic. Burish's presence could be just the thing Morrow needs to get off to a quick start, as strange as that may sound.
Just to make sure, Coach Crawford will take a third look at the trio tonight in St. Louis for the final pre-season game.
I asked coach about the Burish situation after the game on Thursday, in light of the special teams that limited his time with Ribeiro and Morrow, and Crawford said he's still digging it...
"It was hard to get a read on what the chemistry is like in our line situations, but we liked the character that those guys showed. Burish made the play on the last goal. Good things from Adam Burish and especially good things from those other four players that didn't play a lot tonight. They got to get their energy up when we needed it."
The other players to which he referred were guys like Segal, Sutherby and Petersen, whose minutes were limited due to so many penalty calls. That line will also get another chance tonight, as coach apparently liked what he saw on Thursday.
The goals are nice, but perhaps the most encouraging thing for fans heading into this season is the fire Brenden has shown on the ice. The slashing incident between McLeod and Ribeiro was not exactly earth shattering, but Morrow wasn't hearing any of it. He was on McLeod in an instant, taking him down and chirping at him with gusto as they were being separated.
Morrow's fire appears to be back in full swing. I can't wait to see what he unleashes in the regular season.