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October 02, 2014

Jon Morris

Maybe not every hockey star is destined for the National Hockey League.

Take Jon Morris, for example. The New Jersey Devils drafted Morris 86th overall back in 1984. The skinny center was a great talent. He starred in high school and then became a legend at the University of Lowell (where he also studied management). The dazzling stickhandler was an intriguing talent.

"He has a God-given hockey sense and creativeness. He has instincts that not all players have. He's showing that he can do very well in this league. I always knew he was a tremendous prospect," said Devils' GM Lou Lamoreillo.

The only problem was he wasn't quite ready to leave home.

The Devils had hoped Morris could be a playmaking center, eventually taking over from Patrik Sundstrom. They tried giving him shifts with Brendan Shanahan in particular, and later John MacLean, but it never really worked out.

Because Morris was so slight he was easy to knock off the puck. Though he was lauded for his defensive understanding of the game he remained a liability and was not often used. All of which only exacerbated his problem.

He was severely homesick.

Morris actually ended up walking out on the Devils twice, refusing to report to the minor leagues. He returned to Lowell where he finished his degree and contemplated life.

"I was a lot to put up with and they treated me top-notch," Morris said of his coaches and teammates. "I wasn't sure what I was planning to do with my life and they understood."

Morris did eventually return to the Devils and did report to the minor leagues, where he tore up the AHL offensively. He later briefly played with San Jose and his hometown Boston Bruins before extending his career with two seasons in Europe - one in Italy and one in Germany.

For a guy who never wanted to leave home, he seemed to get a pretty good tour of the hockey world on both sides of the Atlantic.

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