The Chicago Blackhawks announced that they acquired Brendan Morrison from the Calgary Flames in exchange for AHL All-Star Brian Connelly earlier tonight. In exchange for the minor-league defenseman who would probably never get a chance to crack the Blackhawks roster, the team acquires much-needed depth at center… if Morrison stays healthy.
“I’m ecstatic,” Morrison said on a media call Friday night. “I just received the news a short while ago, but I’m thrilled. This is a tremendous opportunity; the core of this team is a tremendously talented group of guys and this is a team that has as good a chance as any to win the Stanley Cup.” (Chicago Blackhawks)
Melissa from The Yost Post wrote up a comprehensive article about Morrison’s time in college at Michigan. To learn about his more recent playing history, look no further than the write-up from Flames fan (and friend of mine) Ari after the jump.
Morrison’s best days definitely come from the West Coast Express line back in Vancouver with [Marcus] Naslund and [Todd] Bertuzzi. He’s a centre so definitely a very key part of it. While he isn’t necessarily the greatest player ever, he’s extremely smart and has fantastic vision. Unfortunately, age and injuries have kept him down more often than not.
He came to Calgary after being cut from Vancouver’s training camp at the beginning of the 10-11 season, because everyone on the Flames was injured and he needed a home. He started off as a second line winger, moved down to be the third line centre, and ended up striking gold when he had chemistry with [Alex] Tanguay and [Jarome] Iginla, thus making him Calgary’s first line centre. His move up to the first line was a pretty key part in Calgary’s resurgence last season when they almost made it back into the playoffs but just fell short (Morrison getting injured in early March against the jerkass Blackhawks you jerks was a pretty big reason it never ended up happening). He re-signed with Calgary while rehabbing his hurt knee, and has made most of his appearances for the Flames this year as the fourth line centre.
What you can get from the above paragraph is he is extremely versatile. He can fit into basically every single spot in the line up. He’s naturally a centre, so that’s best for him, and I only saw him on the wing a little bit at the beginning of last season, but he looked fine out there as well. He’s a smart enough player to be able to adapt to basically any circumstance so if the Hawks run into injury trouble down the line, he’ll likely be able to slot in wherever the injured forward was playing.
This is assuming he himself isn’t injured, though. He’s a lot older now and his body’s been beaten up a lot, the most recent injury being a knee injury back in March (he’s hurt his other knee before as well). This season he was a scratch for the Flames a fair amount because he was injured or recovering from injury. He’s more beat up now so you can’t expect him to be able to step into every single game ready to go, and you can’t expect him to take on a lot of ice time in every single game. But what you can expect is a good, smart, reliable player.
And he’s also a fantastic leader. Right when the trade happened Flames media on twitter were all tweeting about what a class act he is, what a great guy, how he’ll give smart and articulate answers for just about everything. He cares really, really deeply — sometimes to too great an extent I think because some of his post-game interviews after Flames losses have been downright weird, like he says what he has to say but he won’t be able to look at the camera properly or he’ll be twitching or shaking or just acting somewhat abnormal in general, but I’m pretty sure that’s just an extent of how much he cares. He wants to win and he’s a great teammate. Last season both he and [Mikael] Backlund (who was 21 then, 22 now) both talked about how he was helping Backlund adjust to the game. He’s a leader and a team-first kind of guy.
You’re going to love him.
Also he has really pretty eyes.
After this initial email, she sent an addendum that sums up what kind of player the Blackhawks have picked up:
So the Flames are playing against the Avs, and they’re entering the third period down 1-0. They’ve had four powerplays in the first two periods and obviously have been unable to capitalize on any of them (this has been a pretty common theme). Brendan Morrison had no PP time at all beforehand, and was left to watch them on the bench. And he noticed a few things.
So they come out for the third period, and an Av takes a double minor for high sticking. Bam: two PP goals, just like that. The big difference being that Morrison had been out on that powerplay (and collected the primary assists on both goals) and, as we learn after the game, had apparently drawn up a few PP plays during the second intermission, based on his observations from the bench. (I can’t remember in full but I think he was along the boards, near the area behind the net – but not quite – when he made both his passes that would then result in goals.)
So that’s the kind of guy you’re getting: the kind who will sit on the bench for failure after failure of a PP, watch them keenly, and then proceed to singlehandedly fix the entire powerplay.
Seriously, you’re gonna love him so much.
Follow Ari on Twitter here: @40to12.