July 11, 2023

Joe Morrow

Joe Morrow was a talented defenseman, perhaps a defenseman a little ahead of his time. He was an average sized blueliner who relied more on talent, skating and puck movement than physicality and size.

Drafted in the first round (23rd overall in 2011) by the Pittsburgh Penguins, he would play in 162 NHL games with Boston, Montreal and Winnipeg before extending his career in Europe.

From an early age, Morrow showed great promise in hockey. He developed his skills playing minor hockey in his hometown of Edmonton, under the tutelage of his dad Dave, who played in the WHA in the 1970s and was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks though he never played in the NHL. Dave passed on his love of the game to Joe which caught the attention of scouts with his exceptional talent on the ice. As a result, he was drafted by the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League (WHL) Bantam Draft.

Morrow's WHL career kicked off in the 2008-2009 season with the Winterhawks, where he quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with. Known for his strong skating, hockey IQ, and offensive instincts, he made significant contributions to the Winterhawks' success. In his final season with the team, Morrow served as an alternate captain of the powerhouse Hawks team that also included Sven Baertschi and Derrick Pouliot.

His outstanding performance in the WHL attracted the attention of NHL scouts, and in 2011, Morrow was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins as the 23rd overall pick. He spent the next few years working his way up through the Penguins' development system, playing for their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

At the 2013 Trade Deadline the Penguins traded the young Joe Morrow and a future first round pick to Dallas in exchange for a veteran named Brendan Morrow - a player of no relation. Brendan was a heart and soul type of winger for Dallas and a nice late-career fit in Pittsburgh. Joe was supposed to be part of the future in Dallas but he was soon moved again himself.

In 2015, Morrow was traded to the Boston Bruins as part of a multi-player deal seeing Tyler Seguin go to Dallas. This trade gave him an opportunity to prove himself at the NHL level, and he embraced the challenge. Morrow's time with the Bruins allowed him to showcase his offensive abilities and solidify his position as a reliable defenseman.

After three seasons in Boston, Morrow was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in a rare Habs/Bruins trade. The Habs would move him along again later in the season this time to Winnipeg. With the Jets, he provided a steady presence on the blue line and contributed to their playoff run in the 2017-2018 season. However, injuries limited his playing time during his tenure with the team.

Following the 2019-2020 season, Morrow became an unrestricted free agent and decided to explore opportunities overseas. He would play in Russia, Finland and Switzerland.

Why didn't Joe Morrow last longer in the NHL?

"Straight up to my last year of junior, I was more of an entertaining defenseman to watch," he said.

"That was a huge thing I learned was that you can't do it yourself at this level anymore -- it's a team game and you got to use everybody," he said. "Simplifying is definitely the number one aspect and just the amount of skill that everyone has here is pretty equal, but the amount of determination and hard work that people put into things is what separates people. I learned that pretty quick and feel comfortable, see what I can do and seeing how I match up against everyone else."

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