Morrison considers Tuesday return

Flames forward Brendan Morrison skates during practice in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 17, 2011. (MIKE...

Flames forward Brendan Morrison skates during practice in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 17, 2011. (MIKE DREW/QMI Agency)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:18 PM ET

CALGARY - Only an eternal optimist can find positives in something as serious as a torn knee ligament.

But there was Calgary Flames centre Brendan Morrison at the Westside Recreation Centre Monday afternoon, talking about how his second recovery from major surgery in a three-year span has been better than the first.

“The first time I went through it, every single time you have a tweak, you think, ‘Geez, did I do some damage?’” said Morrison.

“All that stuff’s normal. So this time, I haven’t had any concerns about pushing. Nothing. I have no concerns as far as the stability goes.

“I’m not wasting my time thinking about that.”

But the 36-year-old is now thinking about playing.

He’s likely to make his season debut when the Flames host the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night at the Saddledome (7:30 p.m., Sportsnet).

Morrison skated on a line with wingers Rene Bourque and Niklas Hagman Monday, and head coach Brent Sutter said it was up to the veteran pivot to decide when he can come back and contribute after a torn ACL in March resulted in surgery on the left knee in April.

“It’s his call when he feels he’s capable of coming in and playing and being good health-wise and physically that he can handle the pace and everything that’s involved in a game,” said Sutter.

Morrison tore his right knee in 2008, so he knows exactly what he’s dealing with now.

“I’m real close,” Morrison said, not wanting to commit. “It’ll probably be a decision (Tuesday).

“A lot of excitement. A little bit of nervousness, as well. A lot of emotions.

“I feel I’ve put in the work. I feel it’s healed. Is it 100%? No, it’s not 100%, but I’m confident in it. I feel I can be effective with the way it is right now.”

After a 1-3 start to the season, the Flames could use his presence.

Their game has been criticized by Sutter as lacking intelligence, at least consistently.

There may not be a more intelligent centre on the squad than Morrison.

He’ll need to use his head more than ever if playing at less than top speed.

“I think anybody will tell you, it takes probably a full year to get over it, until you feel back 100%,” Morrison admitted.

“The biggest thing for me right now, I would say, is that explosiveness. When I get going, I’m fine, there’s no issues. It’s just initially. A lot of my game depends on my quickness — getting in spots, getting out of spots. That’s what I’ve been trying to work on the last couple of weeks, the first couple of strides.

“I think it’s come a long way here the last month.

“That being said, it’ll probably take a while to get back in the groove. I haven’t played a game since March 2.”

Morrison was the middle man on the team’s top line at that point, playing between Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla.

The Flames went 8-5-3 without him down the stretch, missing out on the playoffs by three points.

Signing him this summer was on the team’s agenda, even with the knee issue lingering.

“He’s certainly a very valuable part to our team,” said Sutter. “Not just on the ice but in the dressing room, too.”


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