Penguins prospect Morrow a work in progress
By Jonathan Bombulie
Published: Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
When his 10th week as a professional hockey player dawned last Monday morning, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Joe Morrow thought he was turning a corner.
He was coming off two solid outings, recording an assist and a plus-1 rating in back-to-back games the weekend before.
“I feel like I'm playing against my level of players now, rather than playing against men and kind of being a boy,” Morrow said.
Simon Despres and Brian Strait were out with minor injuries, so Morrow was preparing to play with Robert Bortuzzo on one of the team's top two defense pairs.
The training wheels were coming off.
“Not just because of the (injuries),” coach John Hynes said. “It's really the fact that he's earned it, and he's at the point in his development where he needs to take the next step as far as minutes played and the types of situations he needs to play in.”
As is often the case when training wheels come off, a crash soon followed.
Morrow was a minus-4 in the first 30 minutes of a 6-3 loss to the Albany Devils on Wednesday night.
Hynes said he didn't fault Morrow individually — the Baby Pens played poorly as a team — but the game was emblematic of where Morrow stands.
He still has some developing to do, which is not unusual for young defensemen.
Rob Scuderi spent more than 300 games in the AHL before graduating. Brooks Orpik did a 150-game apprenticeship. Even Kris Letang had a 10-game Wilkes-Barre boot camp under former coach Todd Richards.
Add the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Morrow to that list.
His play in the offensive zone is already close to NHL-caliber. The brilliant skating, predatory offensive instincts and big shot that got him picked in the first round of the 2011 draft are still there.
Coming into this weekend, he had a goal and four assists in 17 games, respectable numbers for a defenseman who turned 20 last Sunday and hasn't seen a ton of power-play time.
“The offensive side of things always came naturally for me,” Morrow said.
In the defensive zone, there are plenty of areas to shore up.
“How to use his stick. Taking away ice when he's playing in one-on-one situations. Defensive habits and certain things he needs to learn down low that are just small little details that will help his game,” Hynes said.
Morrow has received plenty of individual instruction in those areas in recent weeks, several times staying on the ice after practice to work with Hynes, Baby Pens assistant Alain Nasreddine and Penguins assistant Todd Reirden.
He's also been a healthy scratch six times while his defensive game gets a makeover.
“They weren't impressed with how I was doing things before,” Morrow said. “They addressed it. I tried to get better, but I wasn't getting better quick enough. I wasn't progressing at the rate they wanted.
“So I really appreciate them taking more time and showing interest in me and putting in that effort.”
Jonathan Bombulie has covered the Baby Pens for the Citizens' Voice in Wilkes-Barre since the team's inception in 1999. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins center Sutter is thriving despite unsettled 3rd line
- Penguins’ Neal apologizes, vows to be better
- Penguins notebook: Thousands pack Consol for practice
- Penguins players are not out looking for fights
- Penguins notebook: Scuderi could practice within a week
- Penguins notebook: Ex-Flyers coach welcomed inside Penguins’ dressing room Thursday
- Penguins have never been better on power play
- Penguins notebook: Sill thrives on penalty kill
- Penguins notebook: Injury keeps Malkin out against Sharks
- Penguins’ Orpik taken off ice on stretcher in loss to Bruins
- Penguins’ Orpik out; Neal to have phone hearing