Cooper on Morrow's inclusion in playoff lineup: 'Can you have 20 Gretzkys?'

Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports

After a taste of success very early in his career, Brenden Morrow has been waiting a long time to get back to this spot.

Two wins away from the Stanley Cup Final, the 36-year-old veteran is trying to soak in every moment, realizing this may be his last shot to return to the climactic point of the NHL season for the first time since his rookie year.

Five years older than his next closest teammate (Valterri Filppula), Morrow is being relied upon by Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper to set the example with his hunger and willingness to battle it out at all costs.

Cooper told Pierre LeBrun of ESPN:

Can you have 20 Gretzkys on your team? I guess you could, but how would that team play? Wayne Gretzky is arguably the greatest player to ever play in the game, but he had a complementary cast with him.

I look at guys like Morrow where you have a group of players that have a little speed, a little skill, well, who is going to be that guy that goes to those dirty areas? Who is going to be that physical guy? Who is going to be the guy in the locker room that, when things go a little bit awry, that can calm guys down? That's Brenden Morrow.

Cooper certainly has a healthy amount of skill at his disposal, including a 20-year-old offensive talent like Jonathan Drouin waiting in the wings and watching the Eastern Conference Final from the press box.

While Drouin's time will come, Morrow is taking the time to impart his years of wisdom on his younger teammates, reminding them these opportunities don't come around every year, especially in today's NHL.

"I just laid out how my career went, starting with a trip to the Stanley Cup final in my rookie year and how I’ve never been back since," Morrow said in reference to his message in the Lighting locker room.

"Don’t just take it for granted. Have no regrets, play hard, enjoy the opportunity because you never know, especially in a salary-cap world, how often a team like this can be put together."

Morrow has appeared in 15 playoff games for the Lightning, recording eight shots and 18 minutes in penalties.

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Cooper on Morrow's inclusion in playoff lineup: 'Can you have 20 Gretzkys?'
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