Could Vancouver Be Morrison’s Last Chance?
For certain players like Kesler, Samuelsson and the Sedins, the next few weeks will be a chance to prepare themselves physically and mentally for the start of the new hockey season as they are guaranteed a place on the Canucks roster; however, there are some individuals who face uncertainty about their future.
Like most teams this time of year, Vancouver has more than one vacancy, and there are a myriad of hopeful applicants who are eager to impress the coaching staff enough to secure a home on the Canucks squad.
One such player is former Canuck Brendan Morrison, who was invited to camp on a professional tryout. Like most people, he is fighting to make the team, although he is actually faced with a somewhat gargantuan ordeal - he’s literally trying to save his hockey career as he currently doesn’t have an NHL contract.
The Canucks ended training camp this Monday and the focus now turns to pre-season hockey. The veteran center will face what could potentially be his final test, when he is given the opportunity to prove that he still has what it takes to be an effective player in the NHL.
Of course he wont be the only one, newcomer’s like Manny Malhotra, Joel Perrault and regulars like Rick Rypien, will all be competing for head coach Alain Vigneault’s attention. If Sergei Shirokov or Victor Oreskovich had an outstanding pre season campaign they or anyone else could inadvertently slam the door shut on Morrison and prevent him from gaining employment with Vancouver.
Last season with the Washington Capitals he had 42 points and tallied for 12 goals, an 30 assists in 74 games, that’s his greatest point total since the 2005-06 season with Vancouver. Morrison may actually be a good fit with the Canucks as a replacement for the previous years fourth line center Ryan Johnson. Or perhaps he will find himself playing the wing, like he did last year in on a line with Backstrom and Ovechkin. As Burrows is recovering from a shoulder injury, the BC native might be able to fill a temporary role on either of Vancouver’s top two lines.
When making a decision as to a players future coaches and management will look at many variables like skill, raw talent and experience to name but a few. At thirty-five Morrison is no spring chicken, and for some players in his age bracket it maybe time to hang up the skates. Being thirty-five isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the erstwhile member of the west coast express, his experience would be valuable if the organization were looking for someone to fill the role of mentor to the likes of Cody Hodgson.
The Canucks are roughly three million dollars over the cap so in the coming weeks GM Mike Gillis and his staff will be dusting of their abacuses and furiously working to reduce the salary limit to $59.4-million, they have until October 6th to achieve this. Management will need to juggle many salaries just to get under the cap, before they can consider signing anyone else.
There is undoubtedly a long line of forwards waiting to complete the final roster; Morrison isn’t likely to be at the front of that queue. He will have a mountain to climb just to get his name on the back of a Canucks jersey. A player like Morrison is probably more capable of reaching the top of the proverbial mountain than most veterans, but if he does make it he could ultimately discover that a younger more talented group has already set up base camp and he’s the odd man out.
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