Brendan Morrison Welcomes Second-Line Opportunity With the Washington Capitals
Friday, July 31, 2009
Brendan Morrison received a handful of offers when free agency opened earlier this month, including a few that were more lucrative than Washington's.
The Capitals, though, offered the veteran center three things worth more to him than a bigger paycheck: the chance to play on a team widely expected to contend for a Stanley Cup, no small matter for a player who turns 34 next month; the potential to skate on the second line with Alexander Semin and maybe take some shifts with two-time MVP Alex Ovechkin; and the opportunity to prove his worth to NHL executives in the hope of securing a multiyear deal -- if not in Washington, elsewhere -- next summer.
"As you get older, you want to go to a team that has a chance," said Morrison, who came to the area this week to house hunt with his wife, Erin, and enroll the eldest two of their four children in school. "And I think this team has a good a chance as anybody."
The allure of replacing Sergei Fedorov in a top six group of forwards that includes two of the game's most dynamic wingers didn't hurt, either. Morrison, when healthy, possesses the speed to keep up with Semin and can be used in any situation, including on the penalty kill.
"I'm not going to lie to you, it definitely factored in, no question," Morrison said about the prospect of playing with Semin. "When I found out Washington was interested, right away I told my agent, 'Let's work as hard as we can to get something done there. That's where I want to be.' "
It's possible, if not likely, Morrison's tenure in Washington could be a short one after he signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract on July 10. But that doesn't mean he can't have a major impact on a young team that appears ready to take the next step while simultaneously securing his own future, he said.
Morrison skated in 542 consecutive games from 2000 to 2007. Then hockey's one-time Iron Man suffered one injury after another to his wrist, knee, hip and abdomen, all of them requiring surgery to repair. Because of his checkered medical history, and the drop in offensive production the injuries have caused, it's no stretch to suggest that this could be his last, best chance to show that he's closer to being the durable player who averaged nearly 58 points during a seven-season stint in Vancouver than the fragile one who was waived after six months in Anaheim.
"Being put on waivers was my most embarrassing moment as a player," said Morrison, who was picked up by Dallas and finished a mostly forgettable season with six goals and three assists in 19 games with the Stars. "There's a team basically saying they don't want you. It made me upset, all these emotions. But more than anything it's been a motivating factor for me to [prove] myself this year and show I can still play, that last year was an aberration."
Pothier's Shaping Up
Brian Pothier, the only Capital who spends the majority of the offseason in the Washington area, said he has been working out almost daily at the team's practice facility with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish, rebuilding the "foundation" after suffering a career threatening concussion in January 2008.
"I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been in," said Pothier, who returned from the long layoff in March. "For me, it's about building up that foundation that I lost. Whether it was injury or another reason, the last three summers, I haven't really been able to get after it."
Pothier said he is doing a mix of conditioning drills on and off the ice. He is training six days a week but plans to reduce the workload as training camp approaches.
Pothier's wife, Gwen, is expecting the couple's third child next week.
Boudreau Helps Out
Coach Bruce Boudreau's charity golf tournament in Toronto raised between $50,000 and $60,000 for youth hockey players struggling with the high cost of playing on top travel teams, according to a Capitals spokesman. . . .
As of late Thursday, neither the Capitals nor defenseman Milan Jurcina's agent, Allan Walsh, had received a ruling from Tuesday's arbitration hearing in Toronto.