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Morris back to Phoenix

by Mike G. Morreale
Defenseman Derek Morris is heading back to Phoenix.

The Boston Bruins made it possible when they kicked off the final day of trading Wednesday by dealing the veteran blue liner to the Coyotes in exchange for a conditional draft choice in the 2011 NHL Entry.

Morris, who spent parts of five seasons in Phoenix before earning brief stints with the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, was willing to waive his no-trade clause when approached by the team on Friday after realizing his destination would be Phoenix.

"We are very excited to have brought Derek Morris back to the Coyotes organization," Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. "Derek is a talented, versatile defenseman who will strengthen our blue line. His leadership and tenacity will be welcomed in our dressing room."

Morris, a pending unrestricted free agent on July 1, still owns a home in Scottsdale. In 58 games for the Bruins, Morris had produced 3 goals and 25 points while averaging 22 minutes a game.

In 850 career games spanning 11-plus seasons with five different clubs, the 31-year old Morris has 79 goals and 286 assists.

During his previous tenure with the Coyotes, Morris scored 25 goals and 93 points in 288 games. He recorded at least 25 points in each of his three full seasons in Phoenix and appeared in all 82 games during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns. He ranked second on the Coyotes with a plus-8 rating and in average ice time (21:42) during the 2007-08 campaign, when he collected 8 goals and 25 points.

Morris served as alternate captain with the Coyotes and was the recipient of the Club's Man of the Year and Booster Club Awards following the 2007-08 season. He was traded to the Rangers at the deadline in 2008 for Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Prucha and Nigel Dawes. The Bruins had signed Morris to a one-year contract on July 24, worth $3.3 million.

The Coyotes are on the cusp of earning a berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, perhaps another reason Morris was certainly willing to move back West.

The Coyotes are currently fifth in the Western Conference with 79 points -- one point behind fourth-seeded Los Angeles Kings.

Drafted 13th overall in 1996 by the Calgary Flames out of the Western Hockey League, Morris also spent parts of two seasons in Colorado. Despite producing a career-high 11 goals and 48 points for the Avalanche in 2002-03, Morris was shipped to Phoenix on March 9, 2004, along with Keith Ballard, in exchange for Chris Gratton, Ossi Vaananen and a 2005 second-round pick (Paul Stastny).

In his first full season with the Coyotes in 2005-06, Morris had 28 points in 53 games before notching consecutive 25-point seasons the next two campaigns.

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