Brendan Morrison went fishing during the All-Star break and returned to find out he had been traded.
The former Calgary Flames centre was playing just his second game with the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday when they rolled into town to face the Edmonton Oilers.
Morrison was acquired by the Blackhawks last Friday, in exchange for defenceman Brian Connelly.
“Anytime something like that happens it’s a little surprising,” Morrison said. “There wasn’t much talk about it at all, so it was a little surprising at first, but I’m real excited about this opportunity. This is a tremendous hockey club with a lot of high-end talent. There are a lot of guys that can break games open by themselves and I’m looking forward to it.
“I understand in Calgary what they’re trying to do there, they’re trying to get a little younger. I didn’t play a whole lot this year. I thought something might happen closer to the deadline, but this might work out better. This gives me a longer opportunity to be with the team and mesh with guys.”
Morrison, 36, spent the better part of the past two years with the Flames after signing with the club as a free agent.
This season, the native of Pit Meadows, B.C., had four goals and seven assists in 28 games with the Flames.
“He helps us in the middle at centre ice and with face-offs,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “He brings some good experience, has an upside offensively and is reliable defensively as well. I think he can help us.”
The Blackhawks are Morrison’s seventh NHL team. He started his career in New Jersey, but made the biggest impact with the Vancouver Canucks.
“The toughest part about the trade is that I have four young kids at home and being apart from the family, that’s going to be the most difficult part,” Morrison said. “But they’re all on board with it. My wife understands this is a pretty good opportunity to go far in the post season and have a chance to compete for the ultimate prize. We’ll get through it and everyone is excited.”
As a member of the Blackhawks, Morrison is going from a club struggling to get into the post-season to one that is expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup.
It’s a prize that has eluded the 13-year veteran.
“This team, in my opinion, has as good a chance as anybody to compete for it,” Morrison said. “There’s no guarantees, we know that. It’s a long road and you have to have a lot of things to go in your favour in order to do that. But this team has as good a chance as anybody, so I’m excited.”
Conversely, the Blackhawks are excited to have another veteran presence in the room who has playoff experience, predominantly with the Canucks.
“That’s why we wanted that type of guy,” Morrison said. “We added some experience as well in the off-season, and he comes in with an opportunity to play with a couple of good guys in (Patrick) Sharp and (Marian) Hossa. And at this time of the year, down the stretch and in the playoffs, he can help us in key areas.”
As far as Morrison is concerned, it works both ways.
“It’s a two-way street,” he said. “I’m a veteran guy that has played a lot of games, but I’m in a room with guys who just recently won a Stanley Cup, which I haven’t done. I can learn from these guys as well.
“I’m just going to come in here and be myself, there is no need to be something you’re not. I just want to fit in with the group.”
Morrison has yet to see Chicago, having met up with the group in Vancouver. It’ll actually be some time before he gets a chance to play in the United Center as the Blackhawks’ encounter against the Oilers is the second of a nine-game road trip.
“Every day I spend here, I feel more and more comfortable,” Morrison said. “It’s a great group of guys, you can tell right off the bat, it’s a good atmosphere in this room. Guys like to have fun on the ice and enjoy themselves.
“It’s a good environment to come into.”