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Flames add Morrison to center mix

by Brian Hunter
Having played 543 regular-season and 43 playoff games for the Vancouver Canucks between 2000 and 2008, Brendan Morrison experienced his fair share of battles against the Northwest Division rival Calgary Flames.

Now he'll get a taste of things from the other side. After being released from his tryout contract with the Canucks on Monday, Morrison promptly signed a one-year deal with the Flames. Terms were not released, but the Vancouver Province is reporting it's a one-year, $750,000 contract.

"It's going to be a different feeling pulling that (Flames) jersey on," Morrison said during a conference call to announce the signing. "When I played in Vancouver, we had a lot of battles over the years with the Flames, big playoff series, etc. It definitely will be different, but you've got to move on and I'm excited about this new chapter here."

Morrison became an NHL iron man while with the Canucks, playing in all 82 regular-season games for six-straight seasons. He also produced offensively, recording a career-high 25 goals and 71 points during the 2002-03 campaign.

But following an injury-plagued 2007-08 season in which he totaled just 9 goals and 25 points in 39 games, Morrison bounced around the League, splitting a season between Anaheim and Dallas, then putting up 12 goals and 42 points in 74 games last season for Washington.

Morrison was attempting a return to the Canucks, where he once teamed with Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund to form one of the League's flashier lines during the early part of the decade, but it didn't pan out.

"I had a good feeling after speaking to them that things would work out," he said. "They wanted me to come to camp to see if I could still skate, was healthy, etc., and I had no problem doing that. I came in and thought I had a pretty good camp overall, but they were looking to go in a different direction. But one of the benefits of attending camp was other teams were able to see me play, and that helped my cause, for sure."

With centers Matt Stajan and Daymond Langkow currently injured, the signing bolsters the Flames' depth down the middle.

"We did have an inkling they would be interested because of the situation with injuries there," Morrison said. "Initially it's a great opportunity to step in and prove you can still produce night in and night out. I'm excited, even though it's at the cost of some guys on IR now, but I anticipate coming in and contributing and when the team gets healthier it's only going to help the cause and our depth.

"I had a good feeling after speaking to them that things would work out. They wanted me to come to camp to see if I could still skate, was healthy, etc., and I had no problem doing that."
-- Brendan Morrison

"I'm versatile, I'm a center but I can play the wing -- I don't have any issue doing that -- I can play most special teams, power play, penalty killing. I think I'm going to help them in a lot of different facets."

A 1993 second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils, Morrison, 35, has 187 goals and 547 points in 829 games with the Devils, Canucks, Ducks, Stars and Capitals. He also has 29 points in 58 playoff games.

The Flames finished third in the Northwest last season, 13 points behind the division-winning Canucks and out of the playoff picture, but they added some offensive punch during the summer by bringing back Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay, and Morrison feels the team is quite capable of contending.

"I do think the team has a good makeup," he said. "The lineup is still strong right now, but when guys get healthy we're going to be even stronger. We have two good scoring lines and the potential to have three really good scoring lines, a solid fourth line. This has always been known as a pretty good defensive team, strong on the back end, with Miikka Kiprusoff in net a world-class goaltender. We're definitely in the mix in the West, which is another reason why I wanted to join this club."

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