Canada counting on Morrow for grit, checking

'Chances like this aren’t going to come very often'

By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

CALGARY — His first taste of real competition on the ice following serious knee surgery came against the best in the country.

It was at Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp in Calgary in August that Dallas Stars winger Brenden Morrow put his knee to the test for the first time since late November of last season.

And nobody knows better than Morrow an invitation to that camp doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the Olympic tournament — he was present in camp before the 2002 Salt Lake Games and 2006 Torino Games but wasn’t named to Team Canada for either of those Olympics.

So his sleep the night before Steve Yzerman announced the squad going to Vancouver next month wasn’t very deep.

“We came off a game and I usually don’t sleep well after a game anyway, but there was zero sleep,” Morrow told NHL.com’s Dan Rosen recently. “Mice running around in your head, thinking about what could be for something you have been thinking about for a long time.

“It was a restless night.”

Yzerman and Canada’s head coach Mike Babcock hope Morrow’s presence on the energy line will give the opposition fits in Vancouver.

The Stars captain, who is scheduled to return from an oblique injury Wednesday night against the visiting Flames, fully expects to be used in a checking role at the 2010 Games.

“The intangibles — that was probably something in my favour,” Morrow said. “Finishing my checks, playing strong defensively, and I think I can contribute and chip in offensively by driving the net, getting rebounds and ugly goals.

“But, my primary role, what I envision it to be ... is in a checking role.”

Some speculate he could line up alongside Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews and Flames winger Jarome Iginla.

Morrow doesn’t care who he plays with. The 31-year-old is still riding the high of being chosen.

“I’m no spring chicken.

I know chances like this aren’t going to come very often,” said Morrow, who was working out at the Stars’ training facility with strength and conditioning coach J.J. McQueen carrying his cellphone when the Team Canada call came in from former Stars GM Doug Armstrong.

“It was a huge thrill representing Canada at the world juniors in Winnipeg (in 1999) in front of the home crowd, so I know what kind of feeling that was. This will be ramped up a couple of levels.

“It’s going to be pretty exciting.”

Figuring he was a bubble player because of his knee surgery and the fact he’d rcaked up only 25 points in 38 games prior to the announcement Dec. 30, Morrow is bubbling at the fact he’s going to be taking part.

His head coach had a pretty good idea that his gritty leader would be part of the team playing on NHL ice in Vancouver.

“That really plays to his style because he is such a combative and competitive guy and is so good on the forecheck,” Stars coach Mark Crawford told NHL.com.

“He’s a prototypical Canadian player.”

Morrow also skated for Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, taking home a gold medal, and has made four appearances at the annual world championship tournament.

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca

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