Flames Today: 05.10.10
Flames add veteran center Brendan Morrison and assign three more to AHL
The Flames concluded their pre-season schedule with a perfect 7-0 record. The last two against their Alberta rival Edmonton Oilers.
As the regular season that opens for the Flames on Thursday night in Edmonton, management and coaching staff continue to shave down their roster bit by bit.
After Sunday’s game against the Oilers, the Flames assigned John Armstrong, Jon Rheault and Leland Irving to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League.
Today the team assigned Cam Cunning, Staffan Kronwall and Matt Pelech to the Heat to continue their development at the pro-level.
Missing from practice Tuesday due to injury were Ales Kotalik, David Moss, Daymond Langkow, Matt Stajan and Ryan Stone.
Media filled the chilly Westside rink to find out where recently acquired center Brendan Morrison would be playing. What line would he play on and with who?
The lines looked a little like this:
Brendan Morrision arrived in Calgary Tuesday in time to join the Flames for their first practice after the pre-season and one day after signing with the team as a free agent to shore up the injured center ranks.
Initially the Flames are going to put Morrison in the top six forward ranks, meaning he will center the second line, which included Rene Bourque and Niklas Hagman on Tuesday.
“It feels good to come here,” Morrison told media following practice. “They’ve all been great to be on the first day. It’s very exciting. (to be on the second line) I enjoy playing with guys who can shoot the puck. I can finish as well but have the tendency to pass first and it’s always nice to play with guys that can score.”
The Flames have run into early injury issues with four of their centers -- Daymond Langkow, Ryan Stone, Matt Stajan and David Moss currently hurt.
Initially that opened the door for some younger players to move up the line ranks. Mikael Backlund was up playing on the second line during the pre-season and seemed very comfortable and was able to fit in very well but, with that said, the Flames felt they needed a veteran presence both in the room and on the ice.
“He’s still a young guy,” head coach Brent Sutter said of Backlund. “He’s played under 25 games. Let’s allow these young kids to grow as they grow. He’s going to get his fair share of ice time in different situations. He’s a young guy who has a lot to learn in this game and we’re going to develop him the way he should be developed.”
After the Vancouver Canucks released Morrison on Monday morning, the Flames snatched him up without thinking twice. They needed a center with the experience and skill to help fill the void and help the team get through their current injury situation.
“He brings experience,” said Sutter. “He’s been a top six forward for most of his career. That’s why Brendan was acquired, to improve our top six position right now so it’s a positive thing.
“He brings skill, experience, strong skating and is a very intelligent player. We want to be a high-tempo, top-speed team that plays at a top level. We need to be able to do that with some skill and he’s a guy that can still bring that.”
Morrison isn’t a stranger to the Calgary Flames. Having played for the Vancouver Canucks for eight seasons, he’s had many opportunities to play against the flaming 'C'. Jarome Iginla was quick to recognise his capabilities and sees the talent that he can bring to the Flames line-up.
“He’s a fast guy, seeing him out there today,” Iginla said after his first practice with Morrison. “He’s always a good competitor. We’ve had a lot of injuries and he can be very versatile, whether it’s a scoring position or a set up guy, he always works hard. We’re excited about it and excited to get the season started. It’s good to have him.”
Author: Kristi Hennessy