1980 Olympic gold-medalist, 4x Stanley Cup Champion and 23 year scout for the New York Islanders, Ken Morrow talks about retirement, his lasting, yet atypical, career with the New York Islanders, the biggest lesson he learned from the game and his advice to young players ...

 

On my Retirement...

I retired at 33 but regardless of age, no player is ever prepared to hang up their skates and give up something you've done for your whole life, even the guys who skate for 20-25 years. I had to stop playing after ten years in the league because of a knee injury and even though it was earlier than I hoped, I have no regrets. Four consecutive Stanley Cups and five playoff finals is certainly a fulfilling career, especially after joining the NHL as a 23 year old who just won a gold medal in the Olympics.

My 30+ Year Career with Hockey and the Islanders...

I didn't know what to do for the first six months after retirement. I was still a young person, trying to figure out what to do with my life. Some former players go into the work force and become stock brokers for example. They acquire professional experience while playing so they are more prepared than I was. I, like many, initially gave coaching a try with three years in the minor leagues and one year as the assistant coach with the Islanders. I knew coaching wasn't my calling so I got into scouting for the team. I didn't necessarily plan to have a career in hockey but the opportunity presented itself and I jumped on it. I am fortunate enough to have been able to stay involved with hockey and even more so, to scout for the team I played with my entire career. It's very rare in this business to stay with a team for this long. I was never traded during my ten years playing and have now scouted for the Islanders for 23 years. There have been many ownership changes over time and this usually results in scouting changes as well, but I've found a way to stay out of the fray and out of firing line. Maybe that is a talent in itself. When I started, I was the young guy on the block and am now probably the longest serving person in the organization. I bleed Islanders blue and orange.

The Biggest Lesson I Learned from Hockey...

I've learned a lot from hockey but the biggest lesson, sacrifice. Sacrifice is a common topic when I talk about the sport and it isn't just the NHL. Sacrifice is necessary at all levels, even youth and grassroots levels, from both players and their families with early morning practices, travel every weekend and the cost of equipment. I believe hockey requires more sacrifice than any other sport but it creates strong bonds and builds character. You'll find that most hockey people are very humble and they know the definition of hard work.

My Advice to Young Hockey Players...

I believe there needs to be real passion and you need to love what you do. This helps with the highs and lows because of course there are days when it is easy to lace up the skates, but there are also the dog days with early mornings putting on wet equipment, still damp with sweat from the night before. Everyone who has played knows what I am talking about. Those are the days when the passion needs to be there. It isn't always easy but you need to push yourself through the tough stuff and it all becomes worth it. Play hard, play smart and have fun because when the fun goes away, then it becomes a job.

Ken Morrow skating for the New York Islanders
Ken Morrow skating for the New York Islanders
Ken Morrow's 1980 Olympic Credential. Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Olympic Museum
Ken Morrow in New York Islanders jersey
Ken Morrow takes the Olympic torch from 1980 teammate, Mark Johnson
Ken Morrow with 1980 Olympic Teammates Dave Christian and Steve Janaszak in Lake Placid, NY
Ken Morrow takes the ice once again in Lake Placid, NY
Ken Morrow signs an autograph for a young fan. Photo courtesy of  KC Ice
Ken Morrow poses with 1980 teammates, Captain Mike Eruzione, Buzz Schneider and Dave Christian at the DO YOU Believe in Miracles fundraising event in Kansas City, KS. Photo courtesy of KC Ice
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