Born in Pitt Meadows, BC, Brendan Morrison had a stable hockey career.
After lighting up the league in his final years in midget, Morrison hopped on the Trans-Canada Highway to BC’s interior and stopped in Penticton.
Morrison played in the Peach City when the team was known as the Panthers during the 1992-93 season. In 56 games, Morrison tallied 35 goals and 59 assists for 94 points before committing his future to the University of Michigan of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Panthers finished second in the Interior Conference, and Morrison received the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. Despite scoring a league-leading 350 goals, the Panthers were eliminated in the Interior final in the playoffs.
Before joining the Wolverines in the fall of 1993, Morrison was selected 39th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the NHL Draft that summer. Despite being drafted, Morrison spent all four years in college, and what a decision it was. Morrison had over a point per game in his first season in college with 48 points in 38 games during 1993-94.
He was named to the all-rookie team while adding rookie of the year and a CCHA championship as Michigan was loaded with future NHL players. His sophomore season saw no slump, with 76 points in 39 games. He was named to the first all-star team and one of the finalists for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey.
With a new letter on his chest, Morrison was named captain of the Wolverines in 1995-96. He saw a slight point reduction in his junior year with 72. However, his best came in the playoffs as he torched the opposition with 15 points in 12 games.
Michigan won the NCAA and CCHA titles, while Morrison earned NCAA championship tournament MVP, and was named to the all-tournament team. For his regular season exploits, he was named player of the year, to the first all-star team, and once again, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
His senior year with the Wolverines was bittersweet, knowing his collegiate career was coming to an end, but his NHL career just about to get started. But Morrison didn’t turn pro before adding a bit more silverware to his trophy case.
Morrison dazzled in the regular season, having a career year in points with 88. Once again, he led the Wolverines to the CCHA championship, where Morrison was named tournament MVP. He was an NCAA first team all-star, NCAA player of the year, and finally won the Hobey Baker Award. Morrison finished his time with the University of Michigan as its all-time points leader with 284.
Welcome to the NHL
Morrison’s National Hockey League tenure got off to a rocky start, like most careers. He only played in 11 games during the 1997-98 season due to the Devils’ depth at centre. Morrison spent most of the year with their American Hockey League affiliate in Albany, New York, where he scored 35 goals and 84 points. It earned him an all-star game spot and he was also named to the AHL all-rookie team at the end of the season.
The following year, Morrison had a full-time spot in New Jersey and finished fifth in the Calder Trophy race for NHL rookie of the year. However, the 1999-00 season was interesting for Morrison as he spent some time overseas.
He was a restricted free agent in the summer of 1999, and Morrison and the Devils couldn’t agree to a new contract. So, Morrison packed his bags and joined New Jersey teammate Patrik Elias in the Czech Republic.
They both played for Pardubice HC for one month. Morrison tailed seven points in six games before agreeing on a new contract with the Devils. He and Elias made the trek back to North America at the end of October. In his return to New Jersey, Morrison recorded 26 points in 44 games before being traded to his hometown team.
He played in 12 games with the Vancouver Canucks during the 1990-00 season and scored nine points. The 2000-01 season was Morrison’s first full season in the Lower Mainland. He helped the Canucks reach the post-season for the first time in four years before getting eliminated by the Colorado Avalanche.
However, this was just the beginning for Morrison in his time in Vancouver. He didn’t know then that he was about to embark on his best playing days.
The West Coast Express left the station in January of the 2001-02 season. Morrison riding shotgun with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi made for a lethal attack and they were the most dangerous line in hockey for a handful of years. Morrison finished with 67 points and another two in the playoffs, but it wasn’t until 2002-03 that the line took steam.
Making the rounds
With a career-high in points with 71 during 2002-03, Morrison, Bertuzzi, and Naslund, made hockey look easy while putting the fear of sorrow in the NHL’s eyes. The Canucks reached the second round of the playoffs, where Morrison registered 11 points in 14 games.
The following season his numbers dipped a bit to 60, but the Canucks were still strong and made it to the post-season for a fourth straight year, where he extended the series against the Calgary Flames in overtime.
With the NHL and the NHL Player’s Association in full dispute, 2004-05 became a lost season and many players went overseas. Playing in Europe was nothing new for Morrison, who decided to go to Sweden and play for Linkoping of the Swedish Hockey League. He had 44 points in 45 games while playing alongside a few other NHLers, including former Wolverines teammate Mike Knuble.
After reaching an agreement, the NHL was back in 2005, but Morrison and the Canucks struggled, missing the playoffs for the first time during his time in Vancouver.
Changes were coming, and the West Coast Express disbanded. Morrison played in all 82 games in back-to-back seasons but missed a number of games in 2007-08 due to a wrist injury. Limited to 39 games in his final year in Vancouver, Morrison had 25 points heading into free agency in the summer of 2008.
Morrison signed a one-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks in July 2008. He struggled to make an impact in southern California and the Ducks waived Morrison in March 2009.
He had 22 points in 62 games prior to the NHL trade deadline that season and the Dallas Stars took a chance and claimed the centreman. Morrison finished the season off with nine points in 19 games in the Lone Star State.
Hitting July 1st, once again without a team, Morrison chose the US capital for his next adventure.
He returned to the post-season with the Washington Capitals in 2009-10. Morrison had a bounce-back season with 42 points in 74 games. Despite having a better season, Morrison wasn’t offered a contract by the Caps and became an unrestricted free agent.
This time, Morrison didn’t get a contract and opted to take a pro try-out with the Canucks, hoping to rekindle some magic with his old club. The Canucks offered Morrison a two-way deal, but he ended up going to Calgary on a one-way contract.
Morrison played parts of two seasons with the Flames before the injury bug hit again. He tallied 54 points in 94 games in Calgary before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in January 2012, where he skated in 11 games and couldn’t overcome his knee injury.
Morrison’s career took him all over North America and over 14 seasons. He’s a prominent figure in Vancouver hockey and, while he only played one season in Penticton, it was a dominant year that landed him in the team’s Ring of Honour.