Tag: Brendan Morrison

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Chicago’s Morrison faces uncertain future, retirement looms


When Brendan Morrison was traded from Calgary to Chicago at the All-Star break, the 37-year-old center seemed pleased. He was going to a playoff team with a lack of depth down the middle and a slew of talented forwards to play with.

By the end of his tenure as a ‘Hawk, he was anything but pleased.

Morrison was a scratch in 21 of 32 games and skated on Chicago’s fourth line when he did dress. He got in for three of Chicago’s six playoff games — scoring a goal — but  suffered more disappointment as the ‘Hawks were bounced by the Coyotes.

Now, he’s facing an offseason full of uncertainty.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Morrison told the Calgary Herald. “This season was a long season as far as trying to get back to full health after knee surgery last year, but I feel good now. I’m going to prepare like I’m going to play and then we will have to make a decision later in the summer.

“I don’t think anything is going to happen early in the summer, but I’m going to prepare.”

Morrison was almost out of the league entirely two years ago before accepting a training camp tryout from Vancouver. After the Canucks let him go Calgary swooped in and inked him to a deal, and the veteran responded by scoring 54 points over 94 games in a season and a half.

He called his tenure in Chicago “a little bit disappointing”, which explains why he’s keeping in shape. Should an NHL team come calling this summer, he’ll entertain the notion of playing — so he can go out on better terms.

Not to say he hasn’t thought about calling it a day.

“If it’s the right situation then we might do it,” Morrison said. “But if it’s not, then it might be it.”

Blackhawks name Maciver assistant GM

Norm Maciver
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The Chicago Blackhawks knew they’d need a replacement after ex-assistant GM Marc Bergevin took the reins in Montreal.

It didn’t take long to find their guy.

Today, the ‘Hawks announced Director of Player Personnel Norm Maciver has been promoted to serve as GM Stan Bowman’s right-hand man. Maciver, 47, has been with the ‘Hawks for the last five years — prior to working with Chicago, he’d served as the assistant coach in Boston under bench boss Mike Sullivan.

“Norm has proven to be a valuable asset to our hockey operations over the past five years, so we are excited to be able to elevate him to this role,” Bowman said in a statement posted on the team website. “He has an excellent handle on the players within our organization, from recent draft picks to veterans, and a great eye for talent evaluating.”

A journeyman NHL blueliner (stops in New York, Hartford, Edmonton, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and Phoenix), Maciver promises to have his hands full this summer.

The draft is just over a month away and the ‘Hawks have a number of free agent decisions to make. A number of veteran UFAs — Andrew Brunette, Brendan Morrison, Jamal Mayers, Sean O’Donnell, Sami Lepisto and Johnny Oduya — could be retained on the cheap or be jettisoned in favor of younger players on entry-level deals.

Caps may be winning, but at what cost?

Caps win

Last night at Madison Square Garden, Alex Ovechkin spent just 13:36 on the ice, a career playoff low.

But Ovechkin wasn’t the only Capitals star that saw reduced playing time during Washington’s 3-2 victory over the Rangers: Nicklas Backstrom (16:18), Alex Semin (12:27), and Mike Green (18:14) each sat longer on the bench than they’re used to.

All told, those four account for over $28 million in cap space.

Meanwhile, career third- and fourth-liners like Jay Beagle (19:58) and Matt Hendricks (15:26) have become coach Dale Hunter’s go-to guys, particularly when the Caps are leading like they did for most of yesterday’s game.

“You need them players. They play hard every night,” Hunter said. “The press don’t write about them a lot. They’re the foot soldiers of the team. These guys come up and come playoff time, that is how you win games like tonight. It is a grind out there.”

With that in mind, here’s a question I’ve got for Caps fans – is winning the only thing that matters to you? Or, is there something to be said for the entertainment value of the product?

I’d also ask Caps owner Ted Leonsis that question. Because if he hasn’t noticed, there aren’t many fans sporting Beagle jerseys at the Verizon Center.

For all those who say Ovechkin is overpaid, maybe he is from a pure hockey perspective. But he’s more than earned his salary from a business perspective.

According to Forbes, Washington’s franchise value has risen from $115 million in 2004, the year Ovechkin was drafted, to $225 million today.

Without Ovechkin, is it anywhere near that level?

All I know from living in Vancouver is that the Canucks didn’t become a license to print money until 2002 when Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison came together to form the West Coast Express. It wasn’t just about winning in this city — it was about winning and scoring lots of goals at the same time.

Clearly style matters when selling tickets. Just ask the New Jersey Devils, one of the most successful teams on the ice the last 20 years. Yet the Devils have rarely been a hot ticket. There are other reasons for that (arena location, less-than-fantastic marketing, etc.), but being associated with boring hockey didn’t help their brand.

Nor was the NHL’s brand shining particularly bright during the dead-puck era, which is why the decline in scoring should have it concerned enough to explore ways to encourage offense, not defense.