Visa problem could keep Morrow out of Blues' opening night lineup

News-DemocratOctober 2, 2013 

— While he doesn't believe it is because of the current U.S. government shutdown, a delay in getting his work visa could force new St. Louis Blues winger Brenden Morrow out of the lineup Thursday for the season opener.

A Canadian citizen from Saskatchewan, Morrow explained Wednesday that his previous work visa expired at the end of his last six-year contract. He began the application process for a new one last May through his wife, who had previously gained U.S. citizenship.

"I don't know if it has anything to do with the process, but my wife is a citizen and I started the green card application process through her," Morrow said Wednesday. "It's been almost three or four months, so I don't know if that's slowing or delaying things or what's going on with the government."

Morrow said his attorney and the Blues are working to gain a quick resolution to the problem. He signed a one-year deal with the Blues on Sept. 23.

"Obviously I'm worried and I'm going to be really disappointed if it doesn't get worked out," Morrow said. "I'm still very hopeful that its going to get done, but I don't know. They go the length of your contract, so the last one I had was six years. I didn't really have to worry about it."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said winger Magnus Paajarvi would fill Morrow's lineup slot if the veteran winger is unable to play.

"He's still up in the air, day to day," Hitchcock said of Morrow. It's just part of the process. If he's got to miss a game or two he's got to miss a game or two. It's not the end of the world."

Magnus Paajarvi update

Paajarvi, obtained from Edmonton in the offseason trade for winger David Perron, was slated to start the season as one of the Blues' extra forwards.

He began training camp on a line with Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko before being bumped off that line by Jaden Schwartz once the Blues signed Morrow.

Paajarvi didn't score in three preseason games, so how does Hitchcock view his progress?

"Getting better and better every day," Hitchcock said. "He's starting to use his speed as a mechanism to get on top of people and create turnovers. He's starting to use his speed to attack the net, he's getting more and more comfortable with the way we play.

"We saw it at practice again today; he just drove the net like crazy and put our defensemen in tough spots all practice."

Game night rundown

Along with the Blues moving the start time to 7:30 p.m. Thursday for their season opener against Nashville at Scottrade Center, the pep rally outside Scottrade Center begins at 5:30 p.m.

It features live music along with appearances by Blues alumni and team broadcasters.

Hockey Hall of Famer and new Blues vice president Brett Hull will handle the ceremonial puck drop before the game.

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or on Twitter @NormSanders

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