How I Got It Wrong About Ken Morrow

Editor’s Note: Stan (The Maven) Fischler will write about his favorite memories of Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum. The Maven has been covering hockey there since the arena’s inception and he was part of the first telecast from the Coliseum in March 1975 along with Spencer Ross. Here’s another look backward:

The trail to the Islanders first Stanley Cup in the 1979-80 season was a precarious one with many a strange event taking place.

None surprised me more than the ascent of Ken Morrow to the Islanders defense corps.

A graduate of Bowling Green University, the Flint, Michigan native was a star for the 1980 U.S. Miracle On Ice Olympic team and was promptly signed by the Islanders.

By this time, I had been around a long enough time to understand that there’s a difference between college hockey and the NHL. Even though Ken had starred for the Olympians, he had not convinced me that he was ready to move on to Al Arbour’s varsity.

His first game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum after the Olympic heroics was on a weekend afternoon — I’m not sure whether it was a Saturday or Sunday — but what I do recall was that Morrow’s performance did not impress me at all.

He seemed out of place and lacked the skating ability — at least in my view — to keep up with the Bossy’s and Trottier’s.

What I do remember was an incident immediately after the game.

Our television studio was just across from the visitors dressing room and who should come along than my sidekick at SportsChannel, Jiggs McDonald.

“What did you think of the rookie, Morrow?” Jiggs asked.

I didn’t hesitate with my reply.

“He’ll never make it up here, Jiggs,” I answered with no equivocation. “The guy just doesn’t have it.”

“Oh, really,” McDonald shot back; and soon I began to think that I had shot myself in the foot with my retort.

And we all know what happened from that game on, don’t we? Ken’s efforts thoroughly de-Mavened me.

He proved to be the perfect big-leaguer and a key component in the four-time Stanley Cup machine.

I saw Kenny around the Old Barn during the spring and every time we shook hands, I thought of my thoughtless prediction from 1980.

In conclusion, I will say that you can’t win ’em all when it comes to hockey forecasts.

And, in this case, I am so pleased that I was wrong!