Pivotal move for Flames

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:55 PM ET

While the Calgary Flames are cleaning out their lockers next week, doctors will be cleaning up Brendan Morrison’s knee.

Revealing after Wednesday’s loss he was in fact sidelined the last five weeks with a torn ACL, Morrison held off on surgery with hopes he’d somehow be able to help during the playoffs.

However, with the Flames mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, Morrison is now finalizing plans to go under the knife.

“I wanted to do everything I could to see if

I could get back to playing,” said Morrison, the Flames’ first-line centre when he went down with the injury March 2 in Chicago.

“If I didn’t try, I think

I would have always been wondering if I could.

I just ran out of time.”

With the help of a knee brace, Morrison had been skating gingerly by himself the last several weeks but had been hampered by repeated setbacks that made it clear the knee needed surgery.

The only question was when.

“When I tried to push it, it would blow up — it was sending a clear message,” said the former Vancouver Canucks iron man who has been through season-ending knee surgery before.

“I went through it three years ago, so I know what to expect. It won’t be an issue to get ready for next year.”

Question is, where will the 35-year-old play next year?

Signed to a one-year deal with the Flames for US$725,000 after being released from a training camp tryout in Vancouver, the pending unrestricted free agent was a brilliant addition to a team thin up the middle due to Daymond Langkow’s year-long recovery from neck surgery.

However, with Langkow back next year at $4.5 million, the Flames will have three centres making at least $3 million next year, as Olli Jokinen will earn $3 million and Matt Stajan will collect $3.5 million each of the next three years.

None of that is to mention the franchise’s top young prospect — Mikael Backlund — is also a centre.

With 43 points in 66 games and a plus-13, Morrison proved to be the perfect fit between Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay, spearheading the club’s second-half surge.

While it would appear he’s clearly in line for a solid raise thanks to his numbers and importance to the team this year, his age, his injury status and the Flames salary cap issues might make it tough to squeeze him in.

Versatile enough to anchor any line this year, Morrison can also play wing as he did to open the season.

“I’d like to come back for sure,” said Morrison, who has played for four different organizations the last four years and would like to add stability for his family of six.

“It’s a good fit. Obviously, it’s very disappointing the way it ended, but you can’t dwell on that.”

Many believe it ended the way

it did largely because of the injury to Morrison and replacement David Moss, which left a gaping hole on the top line Backlund tried filling.


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