|Hoisting the Stanley Cup is something every NHL player dreams of doing.
Spending an extended period of time on the injured reserve certainly isn’t.
But the quest for Lord Stanley’s Mug can be formidable at times with injuries taking their toll on even the best of players.
It’s all part of the game though, and when lady luck runs out, there’s no avoiding injury.
Brendan Morrison, the NHL’s former ironman, found that out early on this season when he was forced to miss his first game in over seven seasons with a wrist injury.
The 32-year-old was first injured in pre-season when he was checked into the boards in a game against San Jose, but it wasn’t until early December that the nagging injury became too much for him. Despite tallying 20 points (8-12-20) in 30 games to start the year, Morrison opted to have surgery on his wrist instead of continuing to play through the pain.
After appearing in 542 consecutive games dating back to the 1999-2000 season, Morrison has now missed 17 straight contests and he will likely be out of the line-up until mid-March. You won’t be shocked to hear that the native of Pitt Meadows, BC, is having a tough time adjusting to life outside the locker room.
“It’s difficult,” said Morrison. “It’s tough seeing your teammates out there, especially in a game where they lose. When they're winning everything’s great and they don’t miss you, but when they lose, you would like to think that if you were in the line-up it would be a different outcome.
“The one thing with this injury is I knew right from the day I had surgery that I’d be out a significant amount of time, so it’s not one of those things where every single day I’m waking up and wondering if I’m going to be back or not. So mentally, it’s been easier that way, but it’s still tough. You miss the daily banter that goes on in the room, before practice just sitting there putting on your gear with the guys and all the daily shots that go with that.”
For nearly a month Morrison sported a cast that ran from his right finger past his elbow to his upper arm, preventing him from taking part in any physical activity. Sweating could have caused an infection in the incision in his wrist, setting him back even further.
Thankfully that’s no longer the case as the feisty centreman switched to a gore-tex cast, which is shorter and ends below the elbow, at the beginning of January.
“It’s nice to be able to get active again. It’s been a week and a half since I’ve had the new cast on so I can finally get back in the gym and start working out and focus on getting back into shape with some cardio and some weighs; it’s a step in the right direction.”
That step will hopefully lead to a full out sprint before long, although it’s still too early to tell when Morrison will be back on the ice lighting the lamp.
“It’s tough to say right now and until I get this cast off, this one comes off at the end of the month, then we have to evaluate where I’m at,” said Morrison. “Then it’s going to take time to get the range of motion back and build the strength, so that’s really where the rehab will come in as far as my wrist goes.”
The Canucks have clearly missed Morrison’s spark on the ice, as evident by some recent offensive line juggling, and although some were concerned solely about how Vancouver would play without the 5-foot-11, 181-pound mighty mouse, most were fixated on the fact that his consecutive game streak would be coming to an end. The ironman was not one of those people.
“At the end of the day I knew it was going to end. I think a lot of times it was hyped up more for the sake of something to talk about or a story, but I think when I look back it’ll be something that was pretty neat. But by no means was I disappointed or upset that it was over. I knew it was going to happen at some point.”
Ironman or not, Morrison can’t wait until he’s cleared to return to battle with Vancouver – something he specializes in with 388 career points (135-253-388) as a Canuck – but this injury hasn’t been without a perk or two. It’s allowed the father of three to spend some valuable time with his family.
“The first couple of weeks I didn’t do anything, so it was boring when you’re used to being active all the time, but at the same time it was nice to spend some time with my kids and my wife.
“It was a lot different over Christmas because I had more time than usual. Normally we come home and have two days off and we jam everything into two days, so I think the silver lining in having the cast on initially was being able to spend more time with my family. With the kids being on break and not having any school, I was able to spend some good quality time with them.”
One would assume that Morrison, an avid fisherman, would also have the chance to spend some good quality time out on the water while he plays the waiting game, but that isn’t the case.
“Unfortunately I can’t reel, or I would be out there. Maybe I can work that into my rehab program,” laughed Morrison.
Most fishermen are in search of the one that got away and that’s exactly what Morrison is to the Canucks right now, but it won’t be long before Vancouver’s trophy ironman is back playing with a vengeance.
1 - Career hat trick
6 - 50+ point seasons in Vancouver
20 - Points this season
71 - Points in 2002-03, a career high
388 - Career points in Vancouver
542 - Consecutive games played before his injury
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