SUN Hockey Pool

Morrison goes from zero to hero

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

DETROIT — A few days before the season began, Brendan Morrison was without a job.

A couple of weeks into the season, he’s the Calgary Flames leading point producer.

“Oh, it’s no big deal right now. It’s only five games in,” Morrison said. “I’m glad Calgary gave me the opportunity. I still believed I could play and contribute in the NHL and I was surprised I didn’t have a deal leading up to training camp, but that’s all in the past. I’m looking forward to playing for this team.”

The Flames are glad to have him.

The pre-season rash of injuries put the Flames in need of some veteran help at forward, and Morrison was happily waiting for the chance.

The veteran best known for his years in Vancouver was released from a tryout with the Canucks after pre-season action concluded. Calgary signed him to a one-year, US$725,000 contract.

So far, Morrison has collected one goal and five points in five games, including the assist on Rene Bourque’s game-winning goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 overtime victory against the Nashville Predators.

Imagine going from life as a castaway to a point-per-game player for a team which desperately needs offence.

“I’m really trying to be consistent. We’ve got some injuries right now, so I’m getting to play in key situations,” said the 35-year-old, who’s played both centre and right wing. “At this point, winning is important. We want to get a good start, and when we get healthy, we’ll have even more depth.

“A lot of times, it’s about having an opportunity, and right now, things are going well. But let’s be honest, we’ve had three good games and two really bad games.”

So is scoring depth, which is why Morrison is helping the Calgary cause in a big way. The top line, currently consisting of Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Matt Stajan, has not stormed out of the blocks to start the 2010-11 season.

Olli Jokinen, who is currently skating on the second line with Morrison on one wing and Niklas Hagman on the other, is also struggling to light the lamp.

Morrison has been the most consistent point producer, if such a thing is possible for a team which has been shut out in two of five games.

Could being written off be providing an extra spark?

“At this point in my career, I want to win and want to help the team win as much as possible,” he said. “But I still have a little extra incentive not having a deal coming into camp when I felt I could still play and contribute.”

Curiously, Morrison’s old West Coast Express linemate — and former Flame — Todd Bertuzzi is the leading scorer for Thursday’s opposition, the Detroit Red Wings.

Keeping Morrison in check would be how things went last year with the Washington Capitals.

He was on nearly a point-per-game pace before Christmas playing on Washington’s second line, but the Caps put Tomas Fleischmann into that role and then acquired Eric Belanger at the deadline, which pushed Morrison down the depth chart. He finished the season with 12 goals and 42 points in 74 games.

His solid start reinforces Morrison’s belief he can do the job.

“You’re going to go through stretches where you have games that you’re putting up numbers, and you’re going to have some stretches when you’re playing well and don’t put up numbers. But I never doubted it and figured I could still play,” he said. “Still, it is nice to prove to others who don’t think you could do it that you can still do it.”


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