CALGARY, AB -- On Monday morning, Calgary Flames head coach Brent Sutter shuffled his forward lines and placed veteran pivot Brendan Morrison on the third line with Olli Jokinen and Rene Bourque.
The move sparked questions about whether or not Morrison, who has been out of action since suffering a knee injury on Mar. 2 and was forced to undergo surgery during the off-season, is ready to be inserted into the lineup. While neither Sutter or Morrison could provide any definitive answers, they are optimistic that the 36 year-old is almost ready to return.
"I think Mo is getting really close," Sutter stated. "We'll take it day-to-day and see where he's at."
The bench boss is leaving the decision in Morrison's hands, saying only he could know with certainty whether or not his body is ready for the rigors of game action.
Morrison would like to play on Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers but that choice will not be made until tomorrow.
"We talked a little bit when we were on the ice there during practice. We're going see how today went and see how we feel tomorrow. But I'm real close. "It will probably be a decision tomorrow, as to whether I go or not. But I feel pretty comfortable right now."
While he was cleared for contact in early October, Morrison did admit he is not fully healed. He feels he's ready to play but has some lingering issues when it comes to his first stride. Once he's skating, he feels fine but it's that initial explosive speed that hasn't quite rounded into form quite yet.
"Is it 100 percent? No, it's not 100 percent but I'm confident in it. I feel that I can be effective with the way it is right now. That being said, it will probably take a little while to get back in the groove."
Having to sit and watch the team play their first four games of the season hasn't been pleasant for the Pitt Meadows, BC native. He desperately wants to help his club get themselves back on track.
"It's a tough time when things aren't going well but a lot of times, a good team is a team that can deal with adversity. I think last year we proved that hey, we can be a good team when we do all the little things right. I know this isn't last year, a lot of things have changed, etc.
"But a lot of the guys that are here now kind of went through what we went through last year so the quicker we can get out of it, the quicker we can get ourselves back in this thing. It's still early - yes, yes, yes - but as we've learned over the past couple years, points now are as big as points at the end of the year.
Sutter feels Morrison's presence on the ice could provide his team with a spark and help shift momentum in their favour.
"He's an experienced player that is very smart. He's got such a good understanding of the game. He knows how the game needs to be played. He's certainly a very valuable part to our team, not just on the ice but also in the dressing room too."
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