Flames trade Morrison to Blackhawks

Calgary Flames Brendan Morrison at practice in Calgary, Alberta, on Oct. 17, 2011. (MIKE DREW/QMI...

Calgary Flames Brendan Morrison at practice in Calgary, Alberta, on Oct. 17, 2011. (MIKE DREW/QMI Agency)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:00 PM ET

Topping the Calgary Flames talk of the day so far, which centered around captain Jarome Iginla's lack of a suit jacket on media day at all-star weekend in Ottawa, was the evening's announcement on Twitter veteran centre Brendan Morrison was heading to Chicago.

Traded to the Blackhawks in exchange for prospect blueliner Brian Connelly, who is at the AHL all-star game for a second straight season, the Flames determined the 36-year-old Morrison wouldn't be a big part of their on-ice product the rest of the year or in the future.

So, they decided to get something for him rather than let his contract expire with nothing in return.

The 25-year-old Connelly shows promise, with 11 goals and 52 points in 80 games last season for the Rockford IceHogs and 36 points through 44 games so far this season. But it might be a little puzzling for Flames fans wondering why they would add Michael Cammalleri with the intention of making a charge to the playoffs and then decide to dump a veteran leader in Morrison, whose experience is valuable.

"As we projected our lineup going forward, we felt it was going to be difficult for us to find a spot for Brendan or get him significant icetime," Flames GM Jay Feaster said in a statement. "Given his pending UFA status and the fact that we were not going to re-sign him, we felt it important to try to move him for another asset.

"In Brian Connelly, we obtain a 25-year-old, highly skilled AHL all-star defenseman who is still a legitimate prospect. We are excited to have Brian in the organization."

Morrison went home to B.C. for the all-star break and said his "head was still spinning" after finding out about the deal around suppertime Friday night.

He hopped on a conference call for his new club and quickly put to bed the idea he still holds a grudge over some of the Blackhawks chirping him as he was helped off the ice after tearing his ACL during a game against them last season.

"To me, it's a dead issue," he said on the call. "It's a done deal."

This deal gives him new life.

While he found his ice time diminishing with the Flames, playing a season-low 8:39 in the loss to the San Jose Sharks before the break, Morrison has the potential to fill a bigger role with the Hawks, who needed more depth down the middle.

Jonathan Toews is ready to return from a minor injury that kept him out of the all-star game, but behind their top man in the middle, the Hawks have been relying on youngsters like Marcus Kruger and Brandon Pirri along with super pest Dave Bolland.

Morrison gives them another strong locker-room presence and hockey smarts they hope translate into stronger numbers than the four goals and 11 points he's earned in 28 games with the Flames this season.

"I've played with some high end wingers before and found success," Morrison said. "I think I still can be counted on."

One thing he can count on is the potential for a Stanley Cup being much higher in Chicago than Calgary.

As disappointing as it might be to leave some friends behind, he was excited about that aspect of the deal.

"I'm thrilled," said Morrison, whose first game in Hawks colours Tuesday will be against another former team in the Vancouver Canucks. "This is a tremendous opportunity to come to a team that I feel has good a chance as anybody to compete for the Stanley Cup.

"I'm going to come in and be myself. I'm going to try to be a leader wherever I can and be helpful wherever I can -- special teams, 5 on 5, any situation. I'm excited about core of this team."

steve.macfarlane@sunmedia.ca On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane


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