When the Pittsburgh Penguins made Joe Morrow of the Portland Winterhawks their first pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, they acquired a mature young man with tremendous upside.
Morrow, who will celebrate his 19th birthday on Dec. 9, has since been signed by the Pens. The Sherwood Park, Alberta native had a stellar rookie and main camp with the Penguins, nearly cracking the team’s roster. However, given the opportunities for Morrow to further develop and thrive in a leadership role back in Portland, the Pens chose to ship him back to the WHL.
This season, Morrow will lead the Winterhawks solid backend, a group that features Troy Rutkowski (COL), William Wrenn (SJ) and highly-touted Derek Pouliot (2012). Brett Ponich (STL) and Taylor Aronson (NAS) have graduated, leaving Morrow among the veteran leaders in his fourth full season with Portland.
Morrow left home at age 15 to join the Winterhawks organization. It was difficult, yet Morrow looks back on it as an important family decision. Not only did he leave his hometown, he left for a new country. Morrow spoke eloquently about the transition, among other topics, when HF connected with him before a road game in Kelowna against the Rockets.