WINNIPEG - An afternoon of watching football and checking in on his fantasy team turned into a celebration for Josh Morrissey.
While he'll have to wait another day to find out if he was victorious in the team's fantasy football league this week, he was thrilled to learn he had a new two-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets, and the 23-year-old defenceman would be joining his teammates at training camp.
"I was watching it with (Blake Wheeler), (Mark Scheifele), and (Andrew Copp). They knew right away and gave me the big hugs and stuff like that. That's what makes it special," said Morrissey.
"That's what is great about team sport and that's why I love playing here, we have such a close group of guys and great friends and teammates to play with and compete with all the time. It was pretty cool to be with those guys when I got the news, and obviously talking to your family and those people close to you, it was a pretty cool day as well."
Video: CAMP | Josh Morrissey
The new contract - worth $6.3 million with an average annual value of $3.15 million - took a couple weeks to iron out, but Morrissey was happy the negotiations ended "amicably" between the two sides.
Having been in the league for two full seasons, Morrissey knew the Jets had a busy off-season, and that his contract would be one of the last to get done.
"You look at the timeline, there is a lot of stuff that had to get done throughout this summer. When you're a UFA, July 1 is a big date. If you have arb rights, all of a sudden your arbitration day becomes a big date. Being in my situation as an RFA without any of that other stuff, I guess training camp is the big date," he said. "I think because of all the things going on, we had a later start on things… I'm really happy to be back at the rink and getting ready to go on the ice today."
In two full seasons, Morrissey has 13 goals and 46 points, and spent the majority of the season paired with Jacob Trouba going up against the opposition's best.
While Morrissey has plans to continue to improve in both sides of the rink, head coach Paul Maurice is ecstatic to have Morrissey back in the fold.
"We watched him skate in the last couple weeks and he looks stronger and faster than ever before," said Maurice. "What I didn't want was for this thing to go to a point that he lost some of it. All he did was miss the first day of grind, so he'll be better.
"It's good it happened early, and that he's back. You find the guys that miss training camp - not all of them, but some of them - really have a hard time recapturing that and getting up to speed. I'm glad it happened early."
Video: PREGAME | Paul Maurice
Missing the first couple days of camp meant that Morrissey wasn't present for the on-ice or off-ice fitness testing, something that teammate Dustin Byfuglien texted Morrissey could be a "silver lining" for the team's leading shot-blocker from last season.
Although Morrissey expects to have to do those tests eventually, he'll gladly take that over the weight he's had on his shoulders the last few days.
"It was a tough few days and it felt like an eternity over the weekend," said Morrissey, who doesn't know when he'll get in the line-up, though he joked about trying to play in the team's preseason opener against Minnesota later that day.
To stay as ready as possible, Morrissey skated with skills coach Adam Oates once over the weekend. That in addition to attending all the informal skates leading up to the start of training camp.
"I'm just excited to get out there and get back to what I love to do," said Morrissey. "I know when I'm on the ice it's the best place to be."
On the ice, Morrissey knows the team faces heightened expectations after reaching the Western Conference Final last season.
"Last year was a huge year for us, and obviously there is a lot of excitement in our room and the city," Morrissey said. "We'll have to match that excitement and those expectations with hard work and getting back to the grind of what got us to be in the position we were last year. I'm really excited about the future here."