November 22, 2011
Mo needed second time around
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
Brendan Morrison is on the comeback trail again. This time, he hopes to stick around in the Calgary Flames lineup.
Skating on a line with Tom Kostopoulos and Tim Jackman at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit during practice Tuesday, the 36-year-old centre is much more confident in his surgically repaired knee than he was when he first attempted to play last month.
“I think the biggest issue early on was not really trusting it, not engaging anybody for fear of being beat and having to chase guys,” Morrison said.
“I think that’s improved over the last two-and-a-half weeks here.
“I think we’ll try it again and get back to work.”
The Pitt Meadows, B.C., product played eight games between Oct. 18 and Nov. 4 before being sent to the injured reserve list because his knee wasn’t quite ready for NHL action.
But it was hard for the veteran to admit he wasn’t.
“It’s easy to sit here and point fingers or blame yourself. I think it’s just natural when I came back. I felt good in practice. There was no issue at all,” Morrison said when asked if he rushed himself or was hurried by the team initially because of the way they started the NHL season.
“We’re all competitive guys, and when the opportunity is there to go in the lineup, I don’t think you’ll find one guy that will say, ‘No.’
“I thought I was ready. Going into the games, it was evident I was still lacking a little bit.”
Although Morrison was on the top line by his second game and suited up for more than 19 minutes that evening during an overtime loss to the New York Rangers, Morrison’s ice time gradually decreased, along with his role.
He didn’t contribute a single point and looked very tentative and uncharacteristically slow.
He was nowhere near the kind of player he was last season for the Flames, when he scored nine times and totaled 43 points in 66 games before injuring his knee — which required surgery in April.
It was the second major knee surgery of his career.
Where he goes from here is anybody’s guess. But the hope is he can be a trustworthy and versatile centre capable of playing with any combination of wingers and put in time both on the penalty killing and powerplay units.
Morrison also offers an extremely even-keeled voice in the locker-room.
Flames head coach Brent Sutter said the time is definitely drawing near for Morrison to give it another go.
“He’s much further ahead now than he was when we went through the process to start with to put him on IR. He just wasn’t where he needed to be, and he needed more time. He’s certainly farther ahead,” Sutter said.
“I’m not 100% sure if he’s gonna play yet (Wednesday) night (against the host Detroit Red Wings). I wanted him to get on a line (in practice) and get going a little bit, because at some point on this road trip, we’re certainly going to need him.
“It may be (Wednesday) night. If not, it could be in St. Louis.
“I just wanted him to practise on a full line.”
On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane