When Brenden Morrow became a Pittsburgh Penguin via trade late last month, my first action was to read the bombardment of text messages I received, given that I’ve been a huge fan of his since my early college years.

My second action? I responded to each and every text and said, “The Penguins just acquired their new cult hero.”

After his first few games with his new team, I sensed many fans were unimpressed by his play. I’ll admit that even I was wondering if anything was left in the 34-year-old’s tank. After all, his body has aged well beyond its years due to a demanding style of play over a long career.

Since then, though, he seemingly has put it together, tallying nine points over his previous six games, a span that has included two consecutive multi-goal, three-point games.

But, as strange as it might sound, his offense won’t be what endears him to fans.

Take, for instance, last night’s game. Sure, he factored heavily into the team’s offensive outburst, but it was his ability to antagonize the opposition that reminded of another cult-hero who wore number 10 – Gary Roberts.

With just over 10 minutes remaining in the third period, Morrow tangled with Norris Trophy favorite P.K. Subban and the duo ultimately ended up in a fight. Once in the penalty box, Morrow took exception to Subban’s arrogance and engaged in a bit of chatter.

As Bob Errey said on the Root Sports broadcast, and I paraphrase, “Subban may be laughing on the outside, but he’s shaking in his bones on the inside.”

When the two left the penalty box five game minutes later, Morrow hadn’t forgotten the exchange and pointed the blade of his stick at Subban, who wanted nothing to do with the veteran.

Before long, the Canadiens had sent Brandon Prust after Morrow, and soon after Subban appeared to intentionally take himself out of the game with an unnecessary gloved punch to Brooks Orpik’s face amidst a scrum.

Subban’s a clown. He runs around showing little respect for his opponents. But he’s one of the best defensemen in the NHL and would have been much better served on the ice trying to score than in the penalty box and in the dressing room.

But Morrow took him off his game, then had the Canadiens roster focused on retribution rather than winning.

Morrow finished the game with the Gordie Howe Hat Trick – 1 goal, 1 assist, and 1 fight – while adding another goal and a hit for good measure.

Though he’s in the twilight of his career and has taken a steep dive in offensive production (despite evidence from the last six games), Morrow still has a lot left in the tank and will prove to be an invaluable piece to the Penguins’ puzzle.

He is a leader in the room, well-respected around the league, a physical monster on the ice, and capable of scoring the unexpected, yet timely goal when it’s most needed.

As we saw last night, Morrow is a fierce competitor who just might become this team’s new fan favorite..