January 18, 2014

Ken Morrow: Common Man

Bill Althaus of the Independence (Missouri) Examiner recently caught up with former NHLer and Miracle on Ice gold medallist Ken Morrow.
Why can’t all heroes be like Ken Morrow?
The soft-spoken member of American hockey royalty was a star on the U.S. Olympic team that defeated the Soviet Union in the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” – perhaps the most memorable sporting event of my lifetime. He then went on to win four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders.
Yet he is as approachable as the backup left tackle on a high school football team.
Want to talk about the Miracle on Ice? How much time do you have, because it’s a subject Morrow never tires visiting about.
I had the chance to talk to Ken Morrow back at Hockeyville 2009. He came to Terrace, British Columbia as did the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders, the team Morrow works for as chief scout. I was there, too, representing The Hockey News, but I didn't talk to him about the Olympics. Instead I talked to him about the new kid the Islanders brought in from the L.A. Kings. It was his first exhibition game with the Islanders but even then Matt Moulson really stood out - a fact that Morrow seemed really happy about.

He really was approachable, though I did not want to disturb him too long. It was an early September exhibition game in a town as far away from the NHL as most of the players on the ice, but Morrow was really into it. With every hit and chance Morrow was animated as the kids in attendance watching their first NHL game.

But Althaus did get Morrow to talk about the Olympics:

“Herb convinced us that we could beat them,” Morrow said, grinning, “and we went out and got the job done. I was talking to a fellow about the game and he was stationed on a ship in the military at the time that was within sight of a Russian vessel. During the game, they were sending radio signals back and forth. I wonder what those signals were like after we won?”

Before the start of the Olympics, the wily Brooks told his underdog team, “You can’t be common. The common man goes nowhere; you have to be uncommon.”

Those words stuck with Morrow, who works with the UnCommon Community, a charitable organization that raises funds for youngsters who cannot afford ice time or equipment like skates, sticks and gear.

“My greatest memories from my childhood, growing up in Michigan, are pond skating with family and friends,” Morrow said. “We want to help create those type of memories for families in the metro area, and with the help of some of my (Olympic) friends, we also hope to raise a lot of money and awareness for a sport I love.”

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