Blackhawks VP/GM Stan Bowman added depth to the middle of his lineup Friday night by acquiring veteran center Brendan Morrison from Calgary in exchange for minor-league defenseman Brian Connelly. In moving from a team fighting for their playoff lives to one in the heat of a divisional title race, Morrison, a 14-year NHL veteran, says that he’s excited for the chance to support the Blackhawks’ young core.
“I’m ecstatic,” Morrison said on a media call Friday night. “I just received the news a short while ago, but I’m thrilled. This is a tremendous opportunity; the core of this team is a tremendously talented group of guys and this is a team that has as good a chance as any to win the Stanley Cup.”
Morrison, Bowman said, gives the Blackhawks both depth and versatility down the middle. As a top-six forward, he has played with and supported the likes of Jarome Iginla and Markus Naslund, but he is also capable of chipping in on both the power play and penalty kill. Plus, it gives Chicago another true pivot in the lineup.
“I think there are a lot of attributes Brendan brings to the table that we’ve been looking for,” said Bowman. “He’s a centerman and he’s got a long pedigree of being a good offensive performer. I think having that experience and that ability gives us a lot of options depending on where Joel wants to use him.”
Bowman also noted Morrison’s leadership and strong personality within the locker room, which will be helpful with a seasoned, but young core.
“He’s got a lot of leadership,” he said. “He’s well-respected by his teammates and opponents. You can never have too many guys with good character in the locker room.”
Morrison’s first game with his new team may well be in a very familiar setting: when the Blackhawks return to action after the All-Star break, their first game will be in Vancouver against the Canucks, with whom Morrison spent eight seasons.
“I don’t think you could ask for a better first game, really,” he said. “It’s going to be a playoff-style game. These teams have battled hard the past couple of years. As a fan and a player, those are the types of games you like to watch. I spent a lot of my time in Vancouver, had a lot of good years there, but I have kind of moved on. But it’s fun to go back to the city where you established yourself.”
In the meantime, Morrison awaits the first practice with his new club, and is willing to do whatever he has to in order to help the Blackhawks achieve their ultimate goal.
“Whatever the team wants me to do, I’m willing to do,” he said. “I still think that I’m a guy who can be counted on to supplement what Chicago has as far as offense goes. But I’ve also played in defensive situations and killed penalties. Wherever this team wants me to play is what I’ll do.
“It’s exciting for me to step in and find my niche with this team. I want to help, but I don’t know how much help this team needs – it’s a really solid group of guys.”