Brendan Morrison: ‘Am I a legend?’
The Abbotsford Heat sure think the local hero is
Brendan Morrison was the local connection when the Canucks had the top line in the NHL, the so-called West Coast Express, featuring himself, Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi.
The Pitt Meadows native played 934 NHL games — 543 with the Canucks — scoring 200 goals and 601 points. Morrison, 38, will be on hand on Friday night in Abbotsford when the AHL Heat take on the Rockford IceHogs as part of the Legends of Hockey series.
He will sign autographs on the concourse at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre on Friday night at 6 p.m., before the game.
The Province: How surprised were you when you were invited by the Heat to be part of their Legends series?
Morrison: It’s a fantastic phone call to get when Wally (Heat President Ryan Walter) calls you, but I immediately thought to myself: ‘Am I a legend?’ I think some people will have some fun with that. But I think a big part of it is about me being a local guy, growing up in Pitt Meadows, playing all my minor hockey in Ridge Meadows, so to be able to come out there for a night, I am very appreciative that they thought of me.
The Province: You stopped playing after the 2011-12 season with Chicago. What are you doing with your time?
Morrison: I am still based in Calgary (Morrison played for the Flames in 2010-11 and 2011-12), going into our fourth year right now. It’s kind of the way things worked out, the kids are settled in school. And, to be honest, we were kind of tired of moving because I’d done enough of that the last couple years I played. I started a company in Calgary a year ago in January that supplies equipment to the oil and gas industry. I also do some commercial real estate.
The Province: Your love of fishing was well known when you played in Vancouver. We understand you’ve become a TV star in that pursuit — with SportFishing Adventures on Wild TV.
Morrison: Yes, we’re in our third season, myself and Chris Burns, the ex-CFL player. We’re co-hosts, and to have the opportunity to travel to different lodges in different locations; it’s been a lot of fun.
The Province: You’ve always kept yourself well informed on the sport of hockey. Have you considered getting back into hockey on the management or coaching level?
Morrison: I was actually offered a position with a team last year to come back and be involved right away. I just wanted to take a break, a year off and spend more time with the family. I just felt I owed it to them after travelling for 15 years. Getting back into hockey still hasn’t been ruled out. I still follow the game and you never know if I’ll be back in it.
The Province: We’re sure you have followed the Canucks and their dramatic fall since the New Year. What’s your take?
Morrison: Obviously, they’ve been affected by injury. A lot of the guys they’ve relied upon on a nightly basis haven’t been there. And when they have been there, their numbers haven’t been the same as years past. Now is that the result of them playing with nagging injuries? But when your top guys aren’t producing, that’s when you need your depth guys to step up and almost have career years. They’re not getting that.
The Province: The Canucks’ following grew hugely during the time you were here with the West Coast Express. Are you surprised that the team’s popularity has taken such a big hit in the last three months?
Morrison: You look at the brand of hockey they’re playing. Vancouver has been accustomed to teams that score a lot of goals, are entertaining. Now they’re at the bottom of the league in goals. If you’re not winning and you’re not scoring, you’re not entertaining. Fans can deal with low-scoring games if the team’s successful and you’re in the playoffs. But if you’re not winning and not entertaining, you’ve got a real problem.
The Province: You’ve always been someone who’s involved in community initiatives. What is your latest fundraiser?
Morrison: I host a fishing derby in Tofino, where we have a summer home. It’s called the Tofino Salt Water Classic. This is our fifth year. Willie (Mitchell, former Canucks teammate and passionate angler) is a big part of it. The money goes back into community initiatives of some sort.
With the derby, we started a hot lunch program at the Wickaninnish Community School. Wickininish community school. For every kid who comes to school, they have fresh fruits and vegetables and a hot lunch. That’s been huge. It’s increased academic scores at schools, attention levels have gone up during class just getting a healthy diet. That’s something we’ve been really proud of.
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