Retiring Brenden Morrow: 'I didn't leave much out there'

Brenden Morrow scored 265 goals scored over a career that spanned 991 regular-season games. Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

By the time his children get older, Brenden Morrow might be describing his first NHL goal as a top-shelf marker on a breakaway.

There’s no video of that one, Morrow said, so how will his three kids -- an 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old twins (a son and daughter) -- know the difference?

We’re pretty sure they wouldn’t care that the first of 265 goals scored in a career that spanned 991 regular-season games was a bounce shot off the back of Patrick Roy against the Colorado Avalanche in Morrow’s rookie season in 1999-2000.

“It almost in my head feels like yesterday,” said Morrow as he prepared to board a flight to Augusta, Georgia, where he was going to play some golf before formally announcing his retirement in Dallas on Thursday.

“It’s crazy how time flies when you’re in it,” the 37-year-old recalled.

That first goal?

“It was pretty greasy like a lot of mine were,” he said with a laugh. “I think it ricocheted off the end boards.”

Morrow did not play this season, so the writing was on the wall. Still, Thursday marks a formal departure from a game that saw him accomplish pretty much everything that could be accomplished.

Olympic gold medal? Check.

World Cup of Hockey championship? Check.

World Championship gold medal? Check.

Memorial Cup win? Check.

Twice Morrow played in the Stanley Cup finals, most recently last June as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first was back in that rookie season with the Dallas Stars, who had drafted him 25th overall in 1997.

Not bad bookends to a distinguished career that saw him become one of the most popular Dallas Stars ever.

Morrow played his first game against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Legion of Doom line of Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg.

He got to play with his boyhood idol Brett Hull in Dallas and scored the winner in quadruple overtime against San Jose to send the Stars to the Western Conference finals in 2008.

Would he have liked a Stanley Cup ring? Sure.

And getting to 1,000 games might have been nice.

But one thing about Morrow’s style of play was there was never an easy route taken, and maybe that’s helped put all of this into perspective, especially the hardest part of admitting it’s over.

“I know what I brought every night,” he said. “I didn’t leave that much out there.”

None of which makes stepping up to step away any easier.

“I don’t know if it is for many people,” Morrow said. “For me, it’s not been easy.”

But the native of Carlyle, Saskatchewan, admits that maybe this is just his heart and mind catching up with what his body has been telling him for a couple of years.

As he watches from afar for the first time this season and sees the pace of the game, he knows the timing is right.

“I don’t think my body was willing to keep up to the pace anymore,” he said. “That’s the toughest part, just accepting that when you get older ... you look for that next gear sometimes during the game, it just isn’t there when you expect it.

“Whether I want to be done or not, I think the pace has passed me by."

If he had advice for young players, it’s to listen to the warnings of the body.

Sometimes there’s a time to play through injury but there are times when it’s better to step back and heal, said Morrow, who rarely -- if ever -- stepped back. At one point in the 2000 playoffs, he returned to play after breaking a bone in his ankle.

“Honestly, I just haven’t been around a tougher dude, a tougher human being,” said Marty Turco, the longtime Stars netminder.

Morrow was the poster boy for leading by example, Turco said.

“He played through so many injuries. You didn’t even know he was hurt most of the time,” Turco said. “That just goes to say into the kind of teammate he is, the person he strives to be, wants to be. We all try to please and be a good player and teammate but that guy just can’t help himself.”

The last couple of years as he went from Dallas to Pittsburgh and then signed one-year deals in St. Louis and Tampa have been difficult on his young family. Now Morrow is enjoying returning the favor, being able to take his eldest daughter and twins to their events.

He and longtime pal Turco have sons the same age and they help out on their sons' house league youth hockey team -- Morrow jokes that their role doesn’t really qualify as coaching.

Those are priority moments now.

Sometime after Thursday’s formal announcement, Morrow will begin to consider a second career more seriously.

In the meantime, he can come up with a perfect description of that long-ago first goal against Roy for his kids.