Looking at the NHL schedule, it’s not where Brendan Morrison was planning to be or even imagining he would be.
When training camps opened throughout the league, Morrison was looking to earn a job with the Vancouver Canucks, a team he once had so much success with.
Instead, the 35-year-old veteran begins the year as a member of the Calgary Flames, taking on the Edmonton Oilers Thursday at Rexall Place.
“It’s funny how things work out, but I’m excited to be here,” said Morrison prior to the contest. “I’m looking forward to the season. I’m comfortable being back in the division, I’m familiar with all the rinks here. I think it’s a good fit here for me.”
One of the Canucks’ final cuts earlier in the week, Morrison was not out of a job for long, as the Flames offered the Pitt Meadows, B.C., native a one-year contract.
Having suffered a string of injuries already, Calgary was looking for some depth up front.
“What we expect from him is for him to be a good player for us and I’m sure that’s what he’s expecting from himself,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “He’s a guy that has really good skills and can still skate and has the experience.”
Last season, Morrison had 12 goals and added 30 assists in 74 games with the Washington Capitals.
He became an unrestricted free agent this summer and believed there would be some teams interested in his services.
However, when his phone didn’t ring, the 13-year veteran had to settle on a tryout contract.
“I thought something was going to happen in the summer, but the way the market went this year for guys that were getting a little bit older, it completely went south,” Morrison said. “I didn’t know what to expect going into the year, I thought I would still be playing.
“I was coming off a pretty good year in Washington. If this was the season previous, when I was in Anaheim and finished in Dallas, I didn’t have a very good year. I was coming off knee surgery and I didn’t have my legs and maybe I would have been able to understand it a bit more. But coming off a year where I was healthy and had a pretty good year, it was tough to swallow.”
Despite reservations about going to camp without a contract, Morrison took the Canucks up on their offer. His best years had come in Vancouver where, in just over eight seasons, Morrison scored 136 goals.
“I think when I look back on my decision, it was a good one, because for the longest time I wasn’t going to go to a camp unless I had a deal,” Morrison said. “But I think that did help me, going to camp. I felt good, everything was fine, I skated well, and I thought I played decent in the exhibition games.
“I thought I had made the team or had a real good chance to make the team. But they told me that they wanted to get a little bit younger and another issue was my size. I don’t think I shrunk during camp, I think they kind of knew what they were getting into when they asked me to camp. But that’s the nature of this business — you never know what’s going to happen. I had a good feeling there, but they went in a different direction.”
Morrison registered an assist in four exhibition games with the Canucks.
Now with the Flames, he’s looking to contribute to a team heading into the year with high expectations.
“This is a veteran group,” Morrison said. “By league standards it would be an older team. There may be a lot of question marks about this team, are we too old? Can guys still perform and play? I guess time will tell.”